Africans in the Diaspora who go back to their homelands cite several reasons. Some are tired of racial discrimination, others want to be reunited with their families, and then there are those who want to enterprise in their native homes. It is no secret that Africa is increasingly becoming the investment destination for many, due to its vast business opportunities and rising economic growth. One of these opportunities is in the agricultural sector. Africa’s population will double in the next 20 years, and by 2050, the continent is expected to have 2.2bn people. However, the continent is still dependent on imports.
Some Africans who have lived in the US have returned to Africa and ventured into agribusiness. Below are the stories of four such African-American agri-preneurs.
1. Cornelius Ghane Ndimba from Cameroon
Cornelius Ndimba worked and studied in the United States for 27 years. He left his country in 1983 to further his education so that he could return home and develop his country. At the time, he was barely 25 years old. While in the US, he obtained his bachelors’ and master’s degree in education and business administration respectively.
Using his savings, he started his 15-acre oil palm farm in his Ngeptang village in North-West Cameroon, while he was still in the US. The business now has more than 15 permanent employees, and about 30 temporary employees during the harvest season.
Some of the challenges he faced while settling down was his different way of talking, dressing, and his mannerisms. He, however, got past that and achieved his dream of developing his community. He also owns a primary school in the village where he teaches for free.
2. Emmanuel Koranteng from Ghana
Emmanuel was thinking about his farm when he was away from home. He had been working as an accountant in the US before he decided to quit and go back to his village in Ghana. He now runs a successful pineapple business known as Koranco Farms Ltd.
Adapting to farm life was not easy, as people saw him as a guy from the city. Emmanuel produces pineapples for export and has employed many locals whose expertise has also helped him build his business.
3. Tony Kiragu from Kenya
Tony Kiragu is the owner of a poultry farm in Kenya. He left for the US 11 years ago after winning a green card. Holding a degree in Veterinary medicine, he secured two well-paying jobs abroad and was even able to get a practicing license as a vet. Tony was, however, home sick only after three months of being abroad. He longed to return home soon, and only managed to do so after 7 years.
The decision to return home was not well taken by his family members, who preferred that he stay abroad as he was doing so well. He returned nevertheless, and started his poultry business. He now runs Kuku Nature Farm, the biggest supplier of chicken supplies to local farmers in his home place in Nakuru County. Additionally, he trains local farmers on best practices in poultry farming at a subsidized fee.
4. Father Godfrey Nzamujo from Nigeria
Godfrey Nzamujo believes that ‘agriculture can be a weapon of mass destruction.’ He has established the largest and most productive farm, the Songhai farm, in Benin. He has made heroic contributions in terms of research and eradicating poverty in the agricultural sector.
He obtained an M.S in electrical engineering at the Maymount University in L.A California and a Ph.D in the same at the University of California, Irvine. He also has experience in biological sciences. He later worked as a professor in California. In the year 1984, while he was still a professor, Africa experienced the worst famine in history. People starved to death, and nations were pouring aid into the continent.
Father Godfrey envisions more than food aid for his starving people
He was disappointed that nations were only offering aid to Africans and not opportunities to prevent similar calamities in the future. That was his drive to return to the country and create self-sustaining opportunities for the poor. He returned to Nigeria and pitched his agricultural idea to local government officials who turned him down.
He then decided to try his luck in the neighboring country, Benin, where national officials gave him 2.4 acres of land. That is how he began his first Songhai Center. He converted a section of the land into an agricultural oasis and this attracted people from all over the country to learn agriculture and entrepreneurship.
Songhai center today
Today, there are a total of 13 centers which are equipping entrepreneurs with the tools necessary to be economically self-sufficient and at the same time conserve the environment. The farm produces a wide variety of assorted crops and vegetables without the use of fertilizer. Songhai recycles wastes from its plants, fish ponds, and birds; and uses water from the ponds and lakes to irrigate the farms. Currently, there are four Songhai centers in Benin and more in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, DRC Congo, among other countries.
The continent is full of unexploited opportunities in agriculture. Coming back home, these entrepreneurs have developed their communities and spurred real economic growth through farming. That proves that the answers to Africa’s problems lies with us. These are just few of the successful stories of Africans in the diaspora who have given up their promising jobs abroad and created invaluable businesses in the continent. Do you know of other Africans who have returned home from the diaspora to become agri-preneurs?