She quickly realised renting a modern flat would cost everything she’d saved. “Everything that’s nice, that’s UK standard, costs $3,000 a month,” she said. Worse, landlords typically want two years rent up front. When she finally found a place that was in budget, the house was a wreck.
“It had been empty for years. There were frogs in the living room, and the plumbing was out,” said Browne. “When I think back, sometimes it brings tears to my eyes.”
She found chasing opportunity in Ghana’s business world as hard as finding a place to live.
“I just thought there was so much more opportunity here. Ghana at that particular time was the shining star of Africa,” said Browne who was born in London. “When you try to operate in corporate Ghana and start building business relationships and establishing networks, that’s when you realise you’re an outsider.”
The turning point in her experience came when she started spending time with other returnees who were struggling with the same challenges. Through those relationships she was able to make friends and network. Browne is now head of investor relations at the Ghana Angel Investors Network, where she works with high-net-worth Ghanaians, and analyses pitches from start-up companies.
Costs can also feel prohibitive for expats and returnees alike. Cocktails and an Italian meal in Ghana, for instance, could set her back 200 cedi ($53), explained Browne.
“If I’d had the foresight (to understand) how hard it is to live and work here, I wouldn’t have done it,” she said. Ultimately, though, she’s glad she did. “I don’t want to go back because I feel like I’m missing my creature comforts or financial stability. I moved here because I wanted to have an impact, because I wanted to see change, that’s why I keep hammering away.”
Quest for equal opportunity
Emmanuel Gamor is blunter about his motivation and why he feels there are greater opportunities for him in Ghana. "There are so many things that I could do here as a black man that I can't do in the States,” said Gamor.