In my quest to give solutions to or movement towards a more progressive ideal, I think its more important for Africans to be discussing what we can do instead of chiming on the constant racial inequities and racist propaganda that amounts to no more than complaining. Its important that we have dialog about the circumstances we find ourselves in, the circumstances of our historical past as racism is a system that has perpetuated itself in our lives for over 500 years. We are trying to find methodical and realistic solutions to free ourselves from its staggering impact, today this generation and beyond has better tools, communication and education to do that more than ever before. We no longer have to be complacent with complaining, but instead do something.
I wasn’t rich when I decided to repatriate to The Gambia, however I did work a regular job and made investments that allowed me to move to the next level, and that was moving to the continent. My first investment as a repatriate was buying land. I bought two pieces of land in The Gambia, I have since sold one of them and the other my family compound resides there. I’ve learned alot about the phenomenon of African economics, the poverty and the pervasive way in which people will redirect your funds if you aren’t there to watch them. My next investment in Africa was buying a tippa truck. A tippa is basically a dump truck. A beautiful 10 wheel dumptruck that was going to be used for shipping sand for construction outlets in The Gambia. The housing boom in the country has not decreased, but has steadily increased and shows no signs of slowing down. A dump truck is a highly accessible and useful item to be in simple business. Transporting cement, sand and other building materials, each trip garners a significant amount of money. However, due to my inexperience at running this business, something went wrong with the truck and if you can’t fix it yourself, be mindful that everybody that says they are a mechanic are many times not qualified but that’s their job. Your truck will be left in the hands of uncertainty. This is to say, know your business on the ground, know who will help you if something goes wrong or if it needs fixing, or when you need parts. While my business failed here, it didn’t stop me from trying further. I sold the truck, and later invested in fishing boats.
Fishing is a highly useful venture and business in The Gambia and most West African countries, due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. In The Gambia, people from all over the world come specifically here to do their fishing, the variety and types of fish is enormous and profit yields can be very good. Most Senegalese fishermen come to Gambia and do their business, using huge pirogue type boats that are built from scratch. These boats usually seat anywhere from 5 to 25 fisherman at a time, they throw nets out into the sea and stay overnight for their catch. On any given day a good catch can garner over $2000.00, or like any gamble, you can catch very little to nothing. You have your workers to pay and paying the expenses for the boat, fuel and bait. These types of ventures require experienced fishermen and equipment. Most importantly it requires you have solid tools to stay in business a top of the line engine and strong nets is fundamental. I had a good boat, but not a good engine, so I came across many problems trying to keep my boat in the ocean. But a loss in one hustle, you must learn how to move on to the next.
I’ve learned how to sell used clothing and shoes, people are always willing to buy these types of goods if you have good quality stuff. Children’s clothes and shoes, mens and womens wear of course goes a long way. Good quality shoes as simple as flip-flops are highly regarded, since most stuff you buy on the ground are the cheapest Chinese exports, they are of poor quality. You can get quality items rather cheaply in the US or Europe and have them sold for the market value in Africa. You may not make a large profit off of this, but it can keep you floating along. Another business I found very attractive and easy to do are Internet Cafes, the explosion of technology use in African countries is not slowing down, as more areas are becoming populated Africans are online and reaching out to the world. Have a few good computers, xerox machine, scanning and basic utilities to run a cafe and you are in business every day. The only downfall I saw in this business is when electricity goes out and it does quite often in Gambia and other countries, you can lose alot of business, so this is where my next interest comes in. Solar.
Having solar technology either using it in your business or making it your business is a sound investment. It goes a long way and has become more efficient and less expensive over time. Its important to understand this technology and its uses on the ground in Africa. But it is a very profitable venture as people are seeking ways to have electricity 24/7 and tire of power cuts that become annoying and absolutely tiring.
There are many other businesses that I found also to be good long term ideas, real estate. Real Estate in the Gambia is massive, all one has to do is either buy a building that is for sale or build one. The way to make money several times over, is by having store fronts on the bottom, rental units on top and have a constant flow of tenants that assure your longevity. Mini markets are growing in the Gambia as people look for conveniences and the opportunities for these are plentiful. Agriculture, there is no doubt people have to eat everyday, so investing in the land is always good business. Soil in the Gambia is excellent for planting all kinds of fruits and vegetables, Bananas, oranges, mangoes, mandarins, cashews, the potential is extraordinary if you have the land to plant and water to maintain.
These are just some ideas that I found and experienced on the ground myself, as there are many others that I could go on about, eco-tourism, guest houses, restaurants, taxi and bus services, sectors that are directed towards tourism are great ventures. I personally want to try to do business online in The Gambia should I return by selling the art and beautiful wares the country produces. But this gives the potential repatriate some ideas and lessons to learn from someone who has tried and failed, but I will always continue to keep trying… Trust me!