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Bom dia!

Thank you for checking out my blog.  It is my hope to update this blog regularly with stories from the field – humorous antidotes on daily life and success stories from the local businesses that CAE reaches.  I will be moving to Luanda, Angola soon through the MBA Enterprise Corps and joining a team of consultants help local businesses become viable options to provide services to the large multinational oil companies.  In this way, it is CAE’s hope to build up a local supply chain for the Angolan oil industry and put oil money directly into the hands of Angolan businesses, helping spur economic growth and job creation. 

My time consulting will be preceded by 2 months of Portuguese language immersion in the beach town of Benguela, Angola.  I hope to head out there any day now.  However, the Angolan embassy has its own timeframe in mind.  I received my entry visa after 5 whole weeks only to find out that what I really need is a work visa.  I was tentatively told over a week ago that I should expect to go in 2 weeks (aka, this weekend); however you can never be too sure with these types of things.  So until I hear the word, I’m waiting patiently and spending “quality time” with my parents before I’m off to the far-away land of Africa.  Even though my start date has been delayed, my 2 colleagues will be coming out after me (also due to visa issues).  That means I will be arriving in Angola solo.  I really hope I have no problems getting through customs!

Taking my colleague Eric’s lead, I’d like to share my goals for the upcoming year:

a)      The obvious 3: 1) become fluent in Portuguese, 2) work with SMEs and 3) learn how business is done in Africa.  Anyone who has spoken to me in the past 2 years knows that my passion is economic development and investment in Africa.  I believe that one way Africa can realize its true potential is through the power of business.  Investing in financially sustainable businesses poised for long-term success will cause a chain reaction throughout the economy, from increased GDP on a country level down to the improvement of the quality of lives at the employee level.  Small businesses in the US account for 60% of all new job creation each year, so you can see how important SMEs are to the health of developing countries that are beginning to set themselves on the right course.  This year in Angola will allow me to receive first-hand knowledge of the unique struggles SMEs face in developing countries (e.g. lack of access to capital, talent and knowledge; product gap, etc.) while at the same time learning how business is done in Africa.  This will be a huge asset when making investments in SMEs and other large businesses in the future.  Also, language skills are crucial and becoming fluent in Portuguese, though only spoken in 3 countries in Africa (Angola, Mozambique and Cape Verde), will add to my repertoire of skills. 

b)      I’m here to work!  This year is not a personal self-journey to discover who I am, I’m treating my assignment in Angola the same way I would treat any other job.  I’m coming to execute, to produce and to help CAE become more self-sufficient as an organization. I’m coming to teach CAE’s client companies (the SMEs) to have control over their finances, operations and their long-term futures.       

c)      Maintain a positive attitude.  It’s easy to be excited and rearing to go as I sit here in comfort and relative luxury.  In truth, I know this coming year will be full of challenges, obstacles and inconveniences, but until I’m actually there it’s easy to gloss over those details.  I know that in reality, maintaining a positive attitude despite all of the inconveniences may prove to be a bigger challenge than anticipated.

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