We have the great pleasure of sharing with you all another Africa “BRAIN GAIN” interview with an African Professional who moved back home – Kenya. Without further ado, here is Almas Ismail narrating his experience and encouraging others to do the same.
Tell us a bit about your background
I was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya – The City in the Sun, where I attended and completed both my primary and secondary education. I later moved to the U.S. and obtained a B.A. in Economics; an M.B.A with a focus on Project Management. During that time, I also consulted, supported and coordinated programs for non-profit organizations in Washington D.C., with emphasis on promoting education, community engagement, business, and trade.
What is your inspiration for your move back home?
Moving back to Kenya after many years, I must admit was a really bold move – although with it, comes great uncertainty! Yet, despite this, I believe my decision to return provides a great and exciting opportunity to be a change-maker and part of the transformation that is occurring across the continent. I felt it was also the right thing to do – to support the advancement of local projects and create positive change in communities.
What are you engaged in now that you have returned?
In addition to attending networking events in Nairobi, I oversee family and community projects – while I continue to search for work opportunities where I can apply my knowledge and skills, contribute and grow to reach my full leadership potential. I also serve as a Country Liaison for Kenya with Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) to advance the education agenda.
What would you say is the best part of relocating and working in Africa?
Well, let’s just say the bills rarely (not to say never) pile up as they do when you are abroad. I also think that proximity to family and social life is unique – not to mention the outdoors/nature Kenya has to offer e.g. camping and safaris. It is quite a different environment back here.
What would you say are the major challenges you encountered due to relocating/working and living in Africa?
The hardest part about relocating back to Africa so far is that it takes time to re-adapt to the environment back here. As expected, it is significantly different from other continents/places from a cognitive, cultural, social, and socio-economic perspective – especially if you have been out of Africa for quite a long period of time.
What would be your advice in terms of how someone can successfully find a job in Africa?
It goes without saying that networking plays a crucial role in finding a job in Africa (or anywhere). I highly recommend people to constantly interact with whom they know that currently reside on the continent in order to get a better understanding of the context. This would help greatly during the transition to change here happens very rapidly. They can serve as your “ear on the ground” and play a crucial role in offering you relevant information of various industries that are recruiting, recruitment agencies, recruitment trends/cycles, including jobs available out here. Networking can get you connected to the right people. I also highly recommend that you remain patient and not get frustrated during the job search process. It is NOT a race! Stay positive and things will come your way eventually.
By relocating back to Africa as a young African professional, I hope to…
I hope to build Africa into what I envision it to be. I see an Africa built on strong values, brilliant and collaborative minds. The continent has potential to be a place where professionals from all walks of life have an equal opportunity to contribute and thrive. I believe that this potential can and should be harnessed collaboratively using a cross-sectoral approach, converted it into something feasible and sustainable so that current and future generations may benefit.
Why would you strongly recommend that other young African professionals think of coming back to Africa to work?
There are opportunities of disruption in Africa and massive potential in the people that reside in it. Economies are growing and measures are being taken to improve governance structures. These are exciting times to venture into uncharted territory in technology, business and creating new ecosystems that would benefit its people. Young professionals have the ability to challenge the status quo and pivot Africa to become a driving force in the global agenda in the long run.
The mindset of the people in Africa is constantly shifting, and I believe the future of the continent is bright. Yes, of course, it will take some time – but with the youth as its core in development, I am optimistic that its potential will be fully realized.
Do you want to be part of the Africa BRAIN GAIN movement? Reach out to us on [email protected] to find out about how we can help you make the move back home.