Start With Your Father’s House

This is advice I wish someone had shared with me when I first got into business in Ghana: fix and rent your father’s home, first.

Many of us want to do business in our respective home countries and come with 1000 ideas, all brilliant and needed but often requiring capital, partners, resources, and time investment we do not have.

Yet, our parents and extended family own property and land in our home country which remains largely unoccupied or underutilized. This property is a personal asset you can quickly and easily gather resources to turn around and build into an income stream.

My Dad & His 20+ Siblings

My grandfather on my dad’s side married a number of women and had many kids. I recently learned that he left farm land for his children, and some of the women he married also have land inheritance in their respective villages. My dad and his siblings have done nothing with these lands.

My dad and his siblings in the U.S. have also acquired land and each built a home in the city. These are the proverbial “when I return home” houses which sit large empty for decades, usually waiting for a day which never comes or does not come soon enough.

While I understand the “our house in Ghana” phenomenon, I would not understand the extent to which my dad and his siblings were under-utilizing their assets on the continent until I moved to Ghana. My dad and his siblings have been sitting on their pot of gold in Ghana while mining for dollars through hard, menial work in America.

A Look At Existing Assets For Wealth-Building

Our generation has been exposed to more and can therefore do more with what our parents have lacked the imagination or ability to do with what they have.

We know that real-estate is booming in Africa. There is currently a housing shortage in African cities as more people move from the village to the city. While this is good thing for developers and landowners, it has sad ramifications for the average African who cannot afford rising rent. My friend Kwame Botchway recently wrote a piece about this trend in Accra for Huffington Post SA.

You may find that like myself, you are privileged to have a father, mother, or someone in your family who has a house or even farmland which sits largely unoccupied or neglected somewhere on the continent. Taking on the project to fix up, maintain, and put the property on the market would not only bring your family extra income which you can use to alleviate the burden of caring for family back home, but it can help ease a housing crisis which is crippling many Africans. AirBnB is also looking to expand in the African market and is another option for monetizing existing assets.  

Ask your parents about their home, cars, and farm land in their hometowns and the city. They probably have these assets and have not thought to do anything with them. Housing, agriculture, and transportation (uber) is growing on the continent and you can use what your family idly sits on as a tool to propel yourself into business on the continent.