Monday, January 06, 2014

A is for Africa

Hi all, and welcome to the new year, I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and New Year celebrations. Hope that it may be a great and successful new year for you all!

I am taking part in the VA Tips and Tricks Blogging Challenge whereby we write a post twice weekly working through the alphabet from A to Z. I'll be doing the challenge across two blogs, this one and Pop Speaking, so for the other posts that make up the series, e, head on over there.

I live and work in South Africa, and I thought that to start with, Africa would be a good subject as I'm not sure how many of the others taking part in the challenge live or work in Africa, or what they know about it. It's a good topic to introduce myself to you with.



Firstly, let's blow some misconceptions out of the water. Okay I know most of you probably DON'T have these kinds of misconceptions, but they're fun to hear of anyway and I giggle about them.

- We don't have lions walking in the street - recently when I heard there was a baboon on the loose, I was as surprised as anyone else may have been!
- We don't travel around on camels or horseback - we have cars and motorbikes
- We live in houses not huts :-)
- We have ATMs
- We have internet access.
- There are schools, and cities, and shopping malls.
- Most stuff is available here - food, DVDs, CDs.
- Most of the things that you've heard about Africa that seem crazy to you are probably misconceptions!

Africa is beautiful, and for the most part the weather is fantastic. However, at times Africa CAN be a challenging place in which to live. We're very far away from the Western world. We have governments who are - let's just say, greedy, useless and corrupt, and unemployment and poverty which ensures that they keep on getting voted back in. We have apathy, and people who are prepared to settle for far less than the best, in terms of service, in terms of government, in terms of, well, just about everything. But we also have people who in the face of these challenges rise above and beyond the normal expectation of any human being, and get on with sorting stuff out.

From a business perspective, I think it's fair to say that we have a number of challenges all our own. Public transport is pretty much non existent and what we do have is quite dangerous. We have problems with electricity, and infrastructure, and ways of doing business such as BEE which makes it harder for some companies to get business and easier for others. So how to get around all this? Quite simply, make it happen. It can be done.

I have a can do attitude and it's attitude that gets you anywhere in life. If you have a no can do attitude, you won't get anywhere wherever you live, and I strongly believe it's why I have successfully been able to run my business for nearly nine years now. The 1 April 2014 will be my ninth year running this business full time. So it CAN be done, even in Africa. I was inspired some years ago to write an ebook about it because I know that working in Africa is probably a lot different to being a VA or transcriptionist in, say, America, and I must admit that I'm looking forward to reading about how other VAs work in this blogging challenge. It's going to be a great experience. I have also been running this blog a long time and I encourage you to browse through it and see if you find anything else of value in the posts here.

The specific challenges we face in our country is one of the the reasons my colleague Alison Fourie and myself formed a forum for transcriptionists and VAs in South Africa called TAVASA.  Alison has been running AMF Typing since 2001 and has been my mentor and friend for many years. Together we like to pool and share our knowledge with those in our field.  TAVASA has been running since 2009 and together we have built up a fair network of people in our field, in our country and disseminated rather a lot of information.

As I mentioned above, I also am the author of a book - Working From Home as a Transcriptionist in South Africa, which tells of the things I have done in my own business, which I started in 2005.

If anybody has any questions about Africa and South Africa and how we work here, I'd love to hear from you and will do my best to answer them.

On Thursday a post entitled A is for Rick Astley will appear on my other blog Pop Speaking., and next Monday, you can read B is for Back to Basics here on this blog once again. Thank you for reading and I'm looking forward to participating with you!

7 comments:

Kelly Williams said...

I love your bit about the misconceptions about Africa. However, the baboon was a pet that got loose in South JHB and was living in the Koppies behind the townhouse where I was living!

Awesome article - can't wait for the rest

Shawn said...

I love reading about Africa. One of my dreams is to do an African safari. I enjoyed your misconceptions I grew up in Montana a state that people think of as Indians and outlaws in the wild west. So I know something about misconceptions. Looking forward to reading more.

Jesenia Montanez said...

Wow, I didn't realize you were joining us from Africa. Love this article and love your positive attitude when facing challenges that many of us in the states don't deal with. Thanks for sharing!

Amanda said...

Great post! It's so awesome to meet people from all around the world. Sounds like you had a few challenges getting started but I LOVE your Can Do Attitude! Thanks for sharing!

Damaria Senne said...

Thank you for writing my post, Gaynor. Most people I meet online are well-informed individuals, but every so often, I feel the urge to debunk those very same myths, and to add that Africa is a continent, not a country, and each country has its own unique challenges.
It doesn't help that I actually live in a village:-)

susan said...

What a great blog! I like others really enjoyed the tips on the "misconceptions" of living in Africa. Thank you for sharing.

astromei said...

I think that it's great that you live in S Africa and that you are a part of our group. Thanks for the encouragement, I do appreciate it!