Africa Expert Forum convened its first session in New York at the iconic Cadillac House located on Hudson Street in TriBeCa Manhattan. Victor Madubuko shared invaluable insights on bootstrapping and scaling businesses on the African continent. He addressed some of the challenges facing prospective entrepreneurs, executives, and businesses seeking partnerships with government.
In decades past, Africa seemed to be forever cursed by a “brain drain”, robbing it of its most valuable resource: People. But today it is readily apparent that increasing numbers of professionals are returning home in response to economic growth across the continent and sluggish growth in the West. Experienced professionals are increasingly turning to specialized recruitment agencies in search of promising opportunities across a broad range of industries, including telecommunications, mining, oil, manufacturing, hospitality, financial services, and even dynamic SMEs. These so-called “re-pats” are attracted to the greenfield opportunities which Africa presents.
Furthermore, multinationals and many leading national firms are able to offer prospective candidates lucrative salaries and significant perks enabling them to maintain their lifestyle. But Mr. Madubuko cautioned participants to: “Learn before you Leap into a Careers in Africa”. Many professionals under-estimate the challenges they will face and the time that is required to adjust to very different business environments in which there are many things that you cannot take for granted.
Nevertheless for those who are committed the opportunities are attractive, including faster promotions, greater responsibility and scope for growth and personal development than in the West. The recent downturns in some of the leading economies such as South Africa, and Nigeria, and Kenya have increased competition for jobs, meaning that many companies will only seek out diaspora if there is a strategic business case to do so. Participants observed “Moving back isn’t for everyone. Many find it difficult adjusting and find that the corporate culture is not as progressive as are used to”. But for those who can weather the transition, the potential rewards are significant. “In the West where mature economies are the norm it really has to be creative and imaginative- but this is not the case in Africa’s fast-growing economies, where opportunities are to be had every day”, observed Mr. Madubuko.
Faced with increasingly competitive labor markets, many “re-pats” are opting to set up businesses on their own and thereby provide a much-needed boost to private sector growth through the establishment of home-grown firms. Without a doubt, Africa is in urgent need of such entrepreneurs to play their part in expanding the economy to thereby absorb the enormous youth bulge many countries are facing. The meeting concluded on the relevance of the Africa Expert Forum New York as a monthly networking event to share knowledge and know-how on some of these most critical issues facing business leaders and entrepreneurs.
Mr. Madubuko is an entrepreneur and a certified professional with 20 years of experience aligning talent management with business strategy. Fluent in five languages, his career reflects success in entrepreneurship, international business, government, and consulting across the United States of America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. He has worked on a variety of companies including Toksifecks Holdings Moscow, Consolidated Edison of New York, The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, and as Director of Talent Management at Equinox Fitness Clubs in New York City.
In 2003, he founded CareerNation, a New York-based international management consulting firm with offices in Accra, Ghana; Abuja, Nigeria; and Nairobi, Kenya. He joined CareerNation full-time as its Chief Executive Officer in 2007. Twelve years later, CareerNation can count some of the largest institutions in the world amongst its clients as well as select government agencies in North America and across the Africa continent.