Hello people..It's been a while since the last CAMpreneur and I excited about this one.. Why? because I think in as much as we tend to focus generally on criticizing our beloved country, there is hope and good things are happening in Cameroon. Some people are taking the initiative and making bold steps to make a difference. Here is to spreading positive vibes and good cheers...Enjoy!
..Meet the CAMpreneur behind the recently created CareersAndJobs4U.com
Give us a brief introduction of yourself and what you currently do in Cameroon?
My name is Venatius Tsi Fon originally from Mankon –Bamenda Cameroon. I completed my Ordinary and Advanced levels in St Pauls’ College Nkwen, and a graduate from Southampton Business School (Southampton Solent University) in the UK with an MA in marketing management, am also a qualified Chartered Marketer.
I currently work as the Communications and Fundraising Advisor for an International NGO SOS Children’s Villages International. An NGO that looks after orphaned children in 135 countries in the world. I am in charge of communications and fundraising in west and central Africa, Managing 18 countries in the region.
When and why did you leave Africa? Where did you travel to and for how long?
I left Cameroon in 2001 just after the September 11 (911) attacks; I flew in to the UK two Months after these attacks. Then it was every young man’s dream to “FALL Bush” and I being an urban kid also had this dream in me, and I decided to move to Britain to chase the British dream ie if such a dream actually exists.
I spent ten years in the UK studying for an undergraduate degree in marketing a master’s degree in marketing and the chartered marketing program CIM. I then used five years hustling.
What motivated you to move back home after the time spent abroad? Was there a particular incident/circumstance that made you say “This is it!" I am going back home? Or was a gradual well thought out process?
As a qualified chartered marketer with a master’s degree in marketing from a top business school in the UK I was only still getting jobs as either a cleaner or a security guard in a super market. Most people from Cameroon in the UK would do the CARE job i.e. working in the hospitals and caring for the old or mentally ill. I did not like that and preferred the cleaning and security job.
Being a marketing specialist I knew I had no space in a society that was even trying to cope with the credit crunch. I was very confident in the potential in my country has and I decided to use my skills there. My elder brother had studied in Leeds University and had moved back to Cameroon, my other elder brother had also studied in the USA and had moved back to Cameroon so these two were the pillars that supported me to take that bold step to come home.
Did you have doubt as well about what awaits you in Cameroon? What were your main worries?
My main doubts were one would I get a job, will I be able to integrate in to the Cameroon society after ten years, will I make it big, what would my peers say when I return. You have these thoughts in you making you to be afraid of your own country because you now suffer from what we know as reverse culture shock. I had lost touch also with friends and all I was not sure if I would make new friends and all. So it was really something I had to think of. But having two brothers who had returned back from the USA and the UK I had some inspiration from them and the support was immense.
If you had doubts about Africa and Cameroon especially, why did you insist on moving back?
Despite the doubts I moved back because home is home. I knew for sure with my wealth of education I will not lack a job I knew it will be hard but drawing from the experiences of others I knew I will get a job.
We all know how difficult the job market is out here. Can you explain to us how you handled it? How long it took and what got you to where you are today in the corporate world?
Moving back is a daunting process as you would have lost touch with old friends and coming back means making new ones. This also means you would not know the job market and it’s not easy integrating in such a society. Coming back to Cameroon is like starting life afresh in a new country. The job market is really tight as jobs are not advertised as you will think it should, professional jobs are there but how do you get to see them, we don’t have jobs centers or unemployment centers where you walk in to and say I am looking for a job, we don’t have career offices etc.
I arrived Cameroon and three months later, I had a job. Technology in Cameroon is evolving and most jobs are now are posted online, secondly most corporate jobs are advertised in the Cameroon Tribune and if you read that newspaper you are bound to see something that you like. It took me three months to get a job. The first two months I would say I use it to acclimatize the third month with the help of my brother I applied for hundreds of jobs target was minimum of ten per day.
I must say Networking is very also very important, I use to drop CVS in all the companies in Douala. And sometimes you may have to step up your search. I would come to a company and lie that I have an appointment to see the GM and when I go in I would say I just wanted to hand in my CV to the right person. I remember meeting the GM of UBA in Akwa and I walked to him telling him I had dropped my CV in his office. It’s also important to note that my choice of friends also helped me to succeed easily. I made friends with people who had come back from abroad and are settling in and this really helped as well. In the third month I had interviews with Maersk, British American Tobacco and Zenithe Insurance. BAT offered me a role but I was not keen on the salary I still had these big ideas of earning the biggest salary in Cameroon. Few weeks later Zenithe Insurance offered me the role of Marketing Manager for the Insurance Company.
I took the Zenithe job and worked hard to make my impact. The secret to succeeding in Cameroon is hard work. I worked hard for one year there and carved out my career paths knowing that I may start in Zenithe but may not end there. When I knew I had reached my target and limits I decided to move on. I started applying for jobs again that were in line with my career plans and had interviews with UBA, ECOBANK, my Current office and Camairco. Had some interesting offers from the others but decided to go for SOS Children Villages International. Four years in Cameroon and am in top Management Managing 18 countries and am at the peak just where I had hoped I would be.
How would you describe the job hunting process here, compared to that abroad? What tools are available for job hunting?
Job hunting in Cameroon is different we don’t have job centers, career fairs or unemployment centers. We have word of mouth so and so company is recruiting, networking you meet the GM and HR people recruiting and they will tell if there are vacancies or not. Online most recruiters post jobs online and the Cameroon Tribune. Most jobs in Cameroon appear in the Cameroon tribune. The issue is most people return and think that Cameroon tribune is the government paper instead of reading and learning and integrating they stand alone and criticize. I had a book where I wrote the names of the companies I had applied to what role I applied and what they do so that if called upon I just refer to it and prepare for the interview. I would take a taxi for the whole day and we would drop CVs to all the companies in Douala. Job hunting is a very tiring and difficult process in Cameroon.
You are the CEO and founder of careersandjobs4u.com, tell us what motivated you to start this company.
Returning to Cameroon made me realize that it was difficult to know where jobs are. I also heard there were some online communities for jobs and I would search a lot on these and would see just a few jobs but not really what I wanted.
I then decided that it will be a good thing to have a forum for those people looking for jobs will not only search jobs, but companies will come and head hunt for talent as well.
A dynamic lady and friend saw the idea and its potential and liked it. She then approached me and encouraged me to take it to new heights. Her name is Betty Atia. She seemed to have a vision and a clear direction so I decided to go into a partnership with her. I am the CEO and Founder and she is the Co-founder. So in brief that is how careersandjobs4u.com was born out of passion to help job seekers.
You did mention that you manage 18 countries in west and central Africa in your organization so how do you manage careersandjobs4u.com and your responsibilities
I do work a lot in the evenings at home to catch up with the mails and inquiries and my partner also works very hard. We are planning to recruit one staff member for now who will be managing our office. When you are doing something born out of passion, you will enjoy doing it and will find the time as well. This may mean having very little sleep at the very start.
I can say that the small company was born out of passion. I had created a feature on my time line known as the TEE time show aimed at giving people tips on how to build Cvs and how to get the jobs of their dreams and I also taught them the difference between a career and a job. I had also created the groups Brain Gain on FB a group that helps to change the perception of Cameroonians in diaspora about jobs situations in Cameroon as well as UK Alumni Cameroon a group that helps Cameroonians in the UK who have moved back to get jobs and also to help those who are in the UK who wish to come back.
I realized then that the jobs I use to send on these groups use to help a lot of Cameroonians and I thought to myself why not create a forum where every Cameroonian can access these jobs and have access to the services we offer.
Was it a difficult task getting everything together?
Once we decided that it will be good to have a professional service that can coach Cameroonians and give them access to thousands of jobs, my business partner in the UK, Betty Atia bought the domain name and we starting working. The following week CRTV contacted me and mentioned that they had heard about what am doing for young people in terms of job search and will want me to feature as main guest on Hello.
On Hello I spoke about writing CVs and motivational letters and how to search for jobs. I gave my contact details on air and immediately I left the show I had over hundred calls and the emails started tolling. We have received more than a hundred emails for inquiries and we have over 200 likes on your Facebook page which is just one day old. Our company is just two weeks old and we see it growing.
What advice will you give companies in Cameroon about recruiting good talent for their companies?
Cameroonian companies and other multinationals should trust employment agencies like ours because we are impartial when it comes to recruitment. We can hand pick the five best candidates for them and they can do the final selection. This saves many of hours of work that an HR or organizational development guy who could have been working on appraisals and individual work plans would spend on it.
What will you advice Cameroonians looking for work to do?
I will tell them to follow their dreams and passion and stop applying for jobs just for applying sake.
Look at the job description and make sure you qualify before applying. Don’t be an accountant and be applying for a marketing job. If they don’t know how to package and sell themselves Careersandjobs4u can help them do that.
Any final words for those afraid to invest or look for work in Cameroon?
Cameroon is growing at a very fast rate as we are preparing for emergence. Africa is the next big thing and we would follow the steps of the BRIC nations it will be slow but we will get there. Will you be there when we actually reach there or will you stand by, gaze, bemused and say had I known.
|Phone||+237 79 51 69 19|
|Website (Coming Soon)||http://www.careersandjobs4u.com/|
Early career orientation, advice, job listings, interview coaching with a long way for potential employees and employers.
Thumbs up to you and your team,Venatius. People can already see the benefits of this new venture!The SKY is NOT the limit.
OK people, you know who to contact for jobs, advice, interview coaching and more.