Cheryl Ankrah-NewtonBy Cheryl Ankrah-Newton|October 14, 2022|4 Minutes|In R&G Season II

Risk and Glory

The first risk to glory.

The first risk came after doing what was expected of me. After seeing the sacrifices my parents made to get us to where we were, there was no way I was not going to try my best to make them proud by getting a good education and a stable job.

I studied hard, got my degree, and by the age of 21 I was a chartered surveyor working within some of the most prestigious property companies in the UK. I had a very cushy job in Mayfair and by the age of 29 had experience in several multi-million property investments, development and leasing deals.

The risk came when my then-boyfriend (now my husband) proposed that I leave the UK and join him in South Africa. At this point in time I had never even visited South Africa, had no ties to the country and it seemed so far away.

I was looking at where I could take my career in the UK. It would be a big risk for me to leave a very well-paid job that I actually enjoyed.

Although I was one of the few females in the industry and even fewer of the people of colour, I secretly liked this challenge.

Africa, however, had always been on my mind. Mainly because I had ties to Ghana and I often thought about my family legacy as well as giving back.

When I agreed to move it would be on the basis that I found a similar job/role in South Africa.

Unfortunately SA employment laws are not so kind to foreigners, but fortunately for me I was

able to work around this by starting my own property consultancy business. This is when I got the start-up bug, as I call it. This was the moment I became an entrepreneur risking the safety of a corporate job to start my own business.

The Pivot

This continent presents many opportunities in business due to scarcity of highly skilled labour coupled with an abundance of natural resources and growing economies. From bricks and mortar to digital, co-owning the consultancy business further exposed me to other businesses outside of property consulting due to a combination of varied skill sets and a bold approach .

During the last decade, I’ve had exposure within pan-African markets in consulting on

commercial property asset management,  to starting-up and owning hospitality, e-commerce

and digital businesses. The willingness to reinvent myself has opened doors within different



In conclusion, leaving corporate in Europe to become an entrepreneur in Africa has taught me several lessons: an entrepreneurial mindset requires constantly reinventing oneself and pushing boundaries of comfort zones; bootstrapping smaller businesses is a way of life in Africa as access to funding for small businesses is few and far between; approaching Africa as a vast diverse continent rather than a country helps when dealing in the different territories

Each has cultural nuances; the role of technology is not to be underestimated for its impact on the trajectory of development of small businesses in Africa.

Choosing partners carefully can determine the businesses success depending on the territory.