View images of the event on our flickr page HERE.
12 years ago Angel Jones started the Homecoming Revolution. I remember vividly those days when I myself was a post-graduate student in London through the Nelson Mandela Scholarship , when she used to literally wear wings everywhere she went as part of her drive to get South Africans who are abroad to return home. 12 years later, it is encouraging to see that she is still continuing with her campaign which has grown into a full revolution per se.
Brand South Africa saw a perfect fit between what Angel Jones is doing through the Homecoming Revolution and what we, as an organisation are trying to achieve through the Global South Africans Network (website : www.globalsouthafricans.com , twitter handle @glosaf) . The Global South African network is a network of exceptional people (read : all South Africans!) who have left South Africa either temporarily or permanently. To us ‘once a South African, always a South African’. We say that every South African is a Brand Ambassador for the country, mainly because you are the first point of call to people who have never been to South Africa. We rely on you to be knowledgeable enough about the country to tell them about the opportunities that exist for investment, for tourism, for arts & culture and for general economic development.
Around 800 attendees converged on London’s Olympia Conference Centre at the weekend for Homecoming Revolution’s Speed Meet Africa, demonstrating that the pull of home still resonates strongly among many expats.
Homecoming Revolution CEO Angel Jones said as an African, she feels like she lives on a constant rollercoaster.
“Sometimes I feel absolutely terrified, sometimes I feel so exhilarated. I often have those feelings within the same hour. But I feel more alive than ever living in South Africa. Yes we have the hard parts but the opportunity to feel and have a big life is for me the most important. South Africa and Africa as a whole continue to surprise us as we continue to do and achieve incredible things.”
Jones said Africa’s brain drain has reversed and thousands of skilled expats return each year.
She says “For every two (2) people returning to South Africa only one (1) is leaving. This is often for extended working stints versus full-on immigration. Over 350,000 South Africans have returned home over the past 5 years and that number continues to rise. The ripple effect of this is remarkable, with every one (1) skilled person returning creating nine (9) new jobs in the informal and formal sectors.”
Offering a taste of home at the homecoming Revolution, attendees encountered exciting career opportunities in a speed-networking format with 24 pan-African employers who flew in especially for the event.
Employers included KPMG, Deloitte, The Foschini Group, Accenture, Mace Group, Partners in Performance, Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters, Ipreo, GSK, Etisalat, Teach for All, Africa Health Placements, Dimension Data, Mediclinic, Prodigy Finance, LelapaFund, africapractice, Safaricom, Jacobs Matasis, LelapaFund, CSIR and Alexander Forbes.
During the HomeComing Revolution event , Pam Golding Properties hosted fun, interactive property workshops and showcased incredible properties from their pan-African portfolio, the South African High Commission in the UK provided immigration advice, schools in the ISASA group provided information on South African schools, Brand South Africa encouraged members of the South African diaspora to join its Global South Africans initiative, relocation providers White & Co and Doree Bonner advised attendees on the logistics around moving back and beautiful homegrown merchandise including an online clothing brand Kisua was on sale.
I, myself am a product of such initiatives such as the HomeComing Revolution. 12 years ago, a similar organisation, Global Careers Company held a gathering in London wherein each employment seeker was matched with a recruiter. I was fortunate to have been matched and recruited by a Multinational company based in South Africa. I returned home with the comfort that I had a job already so that I did not have to look upon my return. As they say that one door leads to another, every move from there was perfectly aligned to my destiny, which has in turn led me to my current role.
My advice to the companies that have initiatives that seek to bring members of the diaspora back to Africa is that even if out of a thousand people that attend, one person gets selected , that can still be considered as success because Africa gains. The ‘brain drain’ is reversed into ‘brain gain’.
Homecoming Revolution’s next Speed Meet Events are taking place in Johannesburg on 5 August 2015, Cape Town on 12 August 2015 and New York on 24 September 2015.
We also encourage you to join the Global South Africans Network online at www.globalsouthafricans.com . If you have already joined please encourage other South Africans to join so that together we can play our part in taking South Africa forward . The face of the revolution has changed, it is about each of us doing our bit to contribute to our beloved country to ensure that we address the triple challenges that continue to haunt us: poverty, unemployment inequality.
Vive la révolution!