Coming home to SA 'a heart over head decision'

South African emigrants who return to the country do so mainly for emotional and lifestyle reasons, Homecoming Revolution research has found.

“The research, combined with our experience, has shown that it is often a heart over head decision,” Homecoming Revolution managing director Martine Schaffer said in a statement on Wednesday.

“What we have been seeing for the past nine months is that many people who have been torn about returning have made the decision to return partly because of the global crisis, but also because, on reflection, South Africa is where they want to be.”

The study found that, because of the economic downturn, 39% of respondents were likely to stay in their countries of residence, 11% to move another country and 50% to return to South Africa.

“This is a great opportunity, as we are gaining from international experience both in skills and entrepreneurship and, for many, the conscious decision to be home and make a difference,” she said.

The online survey involved respondents in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Dubai and Australia.

Schaffer said 72% of respondents indicated they were likely or highly likely to return to South Africa.

Most likely to return were those living in the United Kingdom and Canada.

“The research has confirmed that reasons for leaving and reasons for returning remained consistent.

“Where we have seen a shift is in the perception that South Africans living abroad have towards South Africa, the constant surprises that South Africa throws their way and the experience that they are having when they visit.

“All this combines to strengthen their feelings towards the country ...” she said.

The Homecoming Revolution is a non-profit organisation, sponsored by First National Bank, which encourages and facilitates the return of skills to the country.

The study found that 61% of communication emigrants had about South Africa with mainly family and friends was negative.

In all, 58% of respondents had visited the country in the last year, mainly from the UK and Dubai, with those in Australia last having visited three to four years ago.

These visits were a good experience for 78% of them, including 100% of those who visited from the US.

Concerns about returning included: finding employment, high crime, political uncertainty, no longer earning a strong currency and the impact on careers.—Sapa

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