In the late 90’s Nelson Mandela planted a seed with Angel Jones when he visited London.
Jones was living in London at the time and part of the crowd on Trafalgar Square where Mandela addressed “a sea of freezing cold South Africans who had gathered to hear the global icon speak on the balcony of the South African Embassy,” reads the introduction to the Homecoming Revolution story.
The legendary Madiba told the crowd: “I love you all so much, I want to put you in my pocket and take you home. “I had this thought of ‘what am I doing here’ and came back home a few years later,” says Angel Jones, CEO Homecoming Revolution.You reached the view limit for this month.
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“Coming home I realised people have this perception of the grass is greener on the other side,” she says. In London Jones worked at M&C Saatchi. Once back in South Africa she set up Morrisjones&Co Advertising with business partner, Nin Morris.
Homecoming Revolution was created by Morrisjones as a non-profit organisation in 2003 with a sponsorship from First National Bank. With Martine Schaffer as the managing director the campaign to reach 20 000 South Africans worldwide started small, but quickly grew into a global movement.
The campaign accelerated with thousands of South Africans around the world wanting to come home and telling their inspirational stories. It was also boosted with an endorsement by President Thabo Mbeki in his 2004 State of the Nation Address. He underlined the importance of reversing the country’s brain drain.
Since then the organisation has grown into a thriving recruitment firm. On Homecoming Revolution’s 10th birthday in 2015 it became a commercial Pan African operation, when Fay Tessendorf joined as director and shareholder, with strong recruitment experience.
Tessendorf says: “On the journey, as we privatised, we became a fully-fledged Pan African recruitment firm. We were worried we could lose some of the credibility of being this ‘feel good, home-coming story’.
“But if anything, we have gained credibility in the market because now clients are seeing that we are experienced successful businesswoman attracting top talent back to the continent and placing them with our clients.”
The process sounds quite simple, but with added value. Homecoming Revolution engages with candidates abroad and help them find their feet back home with employment, the perfect home and the ideal schools for their children.
According to Tessendorf, this is their niche. “A lot of recruiting firms do not do that for their candidates. They are only interested in getting employment, not their well-being.
“We are also working across the continent in Nigeria and Kenya to bring professionals back home from those parts of the world,” says Jones, adding that coming home is not only about the jobs, but about friends and family. A sense of purpose, wanting to make a difference and experience a feeling of belonging.
Homecoming Revolution targets highly skilled candidates across financial services, strategy consultants, healthcare, consulting and technology, construction, media and technology with a strong focus on senior management to executive level. The idea is to bring back South Africans who had left to study abroad. To bring back a those skills, needed on the continent.
“When you are a banker sitting in Wall street, New York you are doing tiny roles but when you come back to Africa you are building bridges, hospitals, real roads, and really making a difference to the continent. I think that is our niche and making us really stand apart.
“In the past five years, 400 000 South Africans professionals have returned home, “which is really exciting”, says Jones.
Tessendorf says Homecoming Revolution is unlike any other revolution. “The fact that we almost married that marketing and branding expertise which Angel brings with her in the recruitment world is unique and no other Pan African recruitment firm has that.” Homecoming Revolution has about 37 000 Africans from all over the world on their database and has hosted over 40 international events, since its inception.
“We host our own unique global events in New York, London, Nairobi and Lagos where we connect with like-minded Africans who are interested in coming back to the continent. And we are actually an end to end fully-fledged Pan African firm. So a lot of skills that this country needs is sitting abroad. A lot of us leave to study abroad and end up working there. We headhunt those skills abroad and bring bring them back home to fill their skilled roles on the continent,” says Tessendorf.