Mar 30

‘Ensure you have a clear reason why you want to return’

Business coach Stephanie Onwunali was born in Nigeria. She moved to the UK for 12 years and is now back in Lagos for good. Here is her homecomer story.

I moved to England in 2005, at the age of 14, as my parents wanted me to get a head-start on the education system there. I studied Accounting and Finance at the University of Birmingham and trained with Ernst & Young post-graduation for 4.5 years.

After leaving my job at Ernst & Young London, I set up my business “What Next, Coach?” in late 2016. 2017 was great in terms of exposure as I spoke at Google, got featured in the Daily Mail and was even invited to No. 10 Downing Street. However, business was very hard in the UK, especially for what I really wanted to do and the pull to return home got stronger.

After losing 4 client deals with companies in September and being depressed for the whole of October, I decided on the 1st November 2017 that it was time to go explore what Nigeria might have for me and by 2 December, I was on a plane home.

It’s been 4 months as I write this, and it has honestly been an amazing decision! I relaunched my brand in February 2018, have 6 retainer clients so far (won within February and April), been recognised as a #WomanWithDrive by Taxify, and have secured a regular slot on a national radio station helping SMEs solve their business problems.

My best thing about returning home is that communication and collaboration is far more seamless. Nothing beats being with people that look, talk and think like you! Other amazing things are being able to eat my mum’s food, being driven everywhere without paying through the nose, and just that general “I belong here” feeling.

Something would always remind me that I wasn’t home when I was in the UK, and thinking long term, I don’t want to raise my kids in London. I wouldn’t want their only experience of Africa to be what they see on TV. I want them to know where they are from.

The worst thing since returning is not being able to access some of the toiletries and cosmetics brands I’m so used to.

My advice for those considering returning is make sure it’s your decision and you have a clear reason why you want to. That way when the commentaries and opinions come, you don’t get lost in what others think. Be mentally prepared as well because being here on holiday is not the same as living here.