Diaspora Returnee| The Courage To Return Home By Jaffar Tonda

Posted January 15, 2017 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Inspirational Stories! ~ 5,481 views



By Jaffar Tonda — From inception, the plan was never to settle in the USA. A similar feeling resonates with most diaspora immigrants – the typical plan is to achieve a target and return “home.” I staged a plan to graduate from University, work for one or two years to get international experience and return to my motherland. Being coined an immigrant/foreigner was never appealing. After graduating with a degree in Accounting at Brigham Young University (BYU) Utah USA in 2006, I received numerous job offers from all the leading accountancy firms I applied to, thanks to BYU’s highly ranked accounting program.

My stint in formal employment entailed working as a treasury analyst with Morgan Stanley, New York and thereafter with Ernst & Young in Boston. However, despite the glamour that came with working at renown top firms, I chose to stick to the plan to return to Uganda. I chose to be proactive and remained committed to my return strategy. In this regard I encourage those towing with this idea — to avoid procrastinating their intended return home. Set a target, and execute it despite the general fear that may abound.

In 2008, Synergy Partners – a real estate development company was born. Why real estate? The numbers in the real estate sector were/are glaring: according to the National Planning Authority, Uganda faces a housing shortage of 8 million units. Therein I saw an opportunity to work towards bridging the housing gap. I did not have adequate resources when I embarked on becoming a real estate developer – it is a capital intensive business.

In all honesty I had no money. I chose to overcome the self-limiting belief that you cannot start a business if you do not have capital. Instead, I worked towards being knowledgeable, hardworking, and honest/trustworthy in my business dealings. I formulated concepts and like most entrepreneurs undertook the difficult patient task of prospecting capital until I found investors who believed in me.

Network, network, network. To aid my transition to home, I actively sought to expand my contacts/circle of friends. I encourage returnees to join various groups for example: health clubs, rotary, health clubs, business and professional associations, religious groups, and harness varied volunteer opportunities. I made an effort to not only join as many groups as I could, but also sought advice from established business leaders/mentors. If people trust you, they are typically willing to share their experiences. Learning from past experiences of others can help encourage, and/or help you avoid potential pitfalls/mistakes that you would otherwise make.

Uganda being a developing nation presents numerous opportunities for self-driven individuals to create additional value – both through formal employment and self-employment. I have discussed various tenets like planning ahead (and saving as a result versus “buying” that nice car on credit), being proactive, persistent/dedicated, overcome self-limiting beliefs, and networking.

Above all the aforementioned, I will close with persistence! From the inception, you will find challenges returning home – right from the airport! Eight years after my return, I am still saddened by the under development I see right from the airport to Kampala. You will face challenges finding a job that adequately rewards your skill set. You will face challenges registering and operating your business. However, remain positive by the reminder that the challenges you face are OPPORTUNITIES to add value!

This article was first published in the Ugandan Diaspora Event Magazine — 2016 edition as a way to inspire those wishing to return home but find themselves in the valley of indecision — Here is a story of someone who walked away from a successful accounting career in the US and is now doing well back in Uganda.

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Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


    Eddie Meddie

    Many thanks for this article, am at the start of this journey however I can vissibly see where you been and where I am it’s one hell of a challenge I must say . I promise not to give up and will hopefully look for you midway my journey and compare notes

    Kenneth DDamba Kanyike

    Such an inspiration! it’s all in the attitude! I also took the plunge…must say it ain’t an easy road but I see a future here! Thanks for the tips!

    Elsie R Kalule

    Thanks ? for the inspiring article jaffer Tonda.
    But I have a lot of friends who followed your journey with a lot of determination and ended up falling and failing. They tried so hard to make it work when they returned back home and lost even the few investments they had in Uganda ??. After trying so hard , lost everything, they end up returning back to foreign countries and start from Zero. I think some of you jaffer come from good family, with good connections which some how makes it easy for you to settle in. Not everyone will succeed on returning back to Ug, but good Looking luck to all those who returned and Planning to return to Uganda


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