Emigrant entrepreneurs: the secrets of their success
Four Irish entrepreneurs attending the Global Irish Economic Forum in Dublin Castle today and tomorrow share their tips for success overseas
Asia is not a destination many young people would think of moving to. When they get here, they are often surprised to see how modern it is, and that there is a tightly knit community of Irish business people and families willing to help them.
The culture in Asia is much different to Ireland and it can take time to adjust. You have to respect their way of doing things, while also bringing your own professional experience to the table. But there are great opportunities here for ambitious young people.
Living a nomadic, life like I have, can create a sense of rootlessness, a homesickness for the country you come from, but overall it has been a very positive experience for me, especially professionally.
‘Do your research, roll up your sleeves and work hard’
Francis Grogan, chief executive of Zambeef in Zambia, and nominee for the Southern African Entrepreneur of the Year 2013
In 1991 I spotted an ad in the paper looking for a meat-factory manager for Zambia. I sent off a CV and got the job.
The set-up there was primitive when I arrived, but I could see great potential. By 1994, myself and my Zambian employer’s son had taken over the business and set up Zambeef. We went from 60 employees in 1991 to 5,500 now, with an annual turnover of $225 million.
We buy the cattle, fatten them, slaughter, package and retail ourselves. There were very few people we felt we could depend on at the beginning so we decided to do it all ourselves.
We started off with beef, followed by pork, dairy and poultry. There is much more competition now, but we have diversified into crops.
You have to be passionate about something to make a success of it, and I was passionate about this business and still am. There are great opportunities out there all over the world just waiting to be grabbed.
But you have to do your research properly and be prepared to roll up your sleeves and work hard. Do things properly and professionally, give it your all, and you will succeed.
I’ve never said I am in Zambia to stay, but I do really like it there. It has huge business opportunities, a beautiful climate and scenery, very nice people, and it is safe. People think of Africa and think of wars and famine, but it is not like that at all. It is a very secure and peaceful place.