Tips for Kenyan Professionals Planning to Return Home


A 2012 survey by pan-African private equity firm Jacana Partners more than three in four African students at the top 10 American and European business schools said they hoped to work in Africa upon graduation. But finding a job back home can be “very hard” depending on one’s area of expertise. 




Things to consider:

A pay cut:

Some people take even half the pay they were getting abroad while a few are able to get the same amount here. You may be getting lower pay but hopefully you can see the results of what you are contributing to your country.


Work culture:

If you’ve never worked in Kenya before, you might experience some form of culture shock in the Kenyan work culture.


Education system:

Depending on your children’s ages, it might be easier to let them complete their education here instead of relocating them but if you insist on taking them with you, consider if they will be able to continue with the same education system they have here or if they will have to change. Also keep in mind the cost of maintaining or switching the education system.


Creating jobs:

Consider turning what you learnt abroad and some of the “innovations” you saw there into business ideas that can make life easier and/or faster in Kenya. You’re moving back to a country with a potential 40million clients and if you include the whole East African community, you’re looking at 200million clients. If you can provide some sought of solution to any problem they might be having, even if they pay a shilling a month, you’re looking at cashing in 200million shillings a month 😉 😉 😉 think about it.


Aller Anfang ist Schwer:

Beginning anything is harder than doing what you’re used to. I know you’re used to driving to work via the Autobahn within 10mins, to an air conned office with a guaranteed 4-5digit salary end of the month. Now you have to move to a country that’s dusty and you might have to spend hours in traffic, with a fluctuating salary but if listening to the experiences of those who’ve gone ahead of all of us is anything to go by, “The move is definitely worth it”.


Tips to make the transition smoother

Have added value, a foreign degree isn’t enough:

You need to have something that is a notch above everyone else. Gone are the days when having academic qualifications from a university in the west was a guarantee to get a job. If you come back home with an MBA you will find many other people with the same qualification and even PhDs in business. 


Plan your return:

I know people who have come back home to look for jobs and within a year or two they have gone back abroad because they did not necessarily plan their entry back into the country well enough. Are you returning to a job or to a job search? Will you have enough money to pull you through the job search? For how long? A month? Two? A year?



Google is your friend. Take time to find out the cost of housing, school fees, living costs. How much will it cost to maintain your living standards? Will you be able to continue with activities you might have picked up here (zumba, yoga, etc)?

For those planning to go back home to start a business, do your market research before the big move. Some of us haven’t travelled home in years, so something we might have thought was a problem back when we left home was already solved in our absence.  You might be trying to do what was already done.


Use your network:

If you work in a huge corporation in Germany, look into finding out if they have any projects in Kenya. Most organisations would prefer to send one of their “own” who understands the organisation and the clients in the new country. With you understanding the cultures on both ends, you can act as a buffer/translator/bridge in addition to your qualifications, making you a perfect fit.


Strengthen the home front:

Make sure your significant other and/or children agree with the move. The move will be hard for everyone, but it doesn’t help to have to deal with the difficulties of a move as well as a sulking spouse and/or children.

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