Tuesday 14th June 2011

Expat entrepreneurs who start their own business

The move to a new country can often signify time for a change. Many expatriates find that they are inspired and motivated by their new surroundings in a way they never anticipated, and it is not unusual to hear of expatriate entrepreneurs who have left behind the stability of their jobs to branch out on their own. Setting up a business can also be an ideal opportunity for the trailing spouses who are looking for their own challenge and role in life. It offers individuals an opportunity to use their professional skills while gaining professional and personal fulfillment.

Today we’re looking at some inspirational stories of expatriates who have branched out on their own and established successful businesses in their host countries.

China

Jill Cole from Imports Oriental Beijing

Jill Cole is somewhat of a seasoned expatriate. She attended high school in Hong Kong, lived in China for a year while studying Mandarin and, after finishing her education in the US, finally returned to Asia with her husband.

After working as a teacher in a non-profit school in Beijing, Jill found the entrepreneurial spirit and started her own import/export business, which she named Imports Oriental. Her initial efforts were so successful that her husband was able to quit his job and join the team. She now provides a range of products that specialize in travel wear and knitwear.

Nicola Wakley from Tree

Nicola was born in London and started her professional career as a Lawyer. After a career move took her to Hong Kong in 2000, Nicola developed an increasing interest in sustainable products and eco-furniture. After traveling around the Asia sourcing sustainable products region she slowly built her furniture retail business, Tree. The business now operates two retail stores in Horizon Plaza, Ap Lei Chau and Soho, both in Hong Kong.

Italy

Megan McCaffrey from Bella Vita Italia

Megan McCaffrey is a US expatriate who left behind her native Los Angeles in order to start a new life in the country of her dreams: Italy. While initially running a small bed and breakfast business Megan started to realize that there was a gap in the market for guided excursions and so her business was born. Bella Vita Italia is boutique travel company that aims to provide tailored excursions and sightseeing experiences for visitors to Italy. They offer a range of different hosted tours including 'A Taste of Sicily', 'Walks, Wines & Wonders of the Italian Riviera' and 'Pleasures of Puglia'.

Singapore

Karen Lucas from www.baobabphoto.com

South African expatriate Karen Lucas and her husband fell in love with Singapore while visiting on a business trip and were delighted to be eventually relocated to the Lion City. After initially working in the corporate world in Singapore, Karen searched for a new challenge and eventually launched Baobab Photography in 2007. Her business has grown from strength to strength and she now freelances on a regular basis for a major Singapore magazine as well as offering studio and outdoor portrait photography.

Thailand

Benjamin Lord from Urban Pantry

Benjamin worked in Bangkok in the financial services industry for 10 years before taking the plunge to translate his love of baking artisan breads into a real business opportunity. Last year he launched Urban Pantry and sales of his artisan breads have gone through the roof, with the majority of his products being sold out within a few hours of the distribution of his weekly bakery list.

Email: urbanpantrybangkok@gmail.com.

United States of America

Rochelle Peachey from iloveyouraccent.com

Rochelle moved from Britain to Florida in the US as a result of her spouse’s work relocation and although she initially spent her time helping her husband with his work, she craved her own opportunity and challenge. Rochelle launched her online dating site, www.iloveyouraccent.com, after observing the interest that US citizens had in dating Brits and vice versa. The site now has over 10000 members and has successfully matched many happy couples, eight of which went on to marry.

Naomi Levine of Tipsy Cake Chicago

Naomi Levine is an Australian expatriate who moved to the USA in 1998. After working in the corporate world for many years she grew frustrated with her lifestyle and wanted to be her own boss. Cakes and pastries presented her with a challenge that motivated and inspired her and eventually her company Tipsy Cake Chicago was born. Her business has supplied cakes to Mike Ditka, Tyrus Thomas, and Sam Witwer, Kanye West and the President of Senegal, amongst others.

Are you an entrepreneurial expatriate? If you’ve started your own business and you would like us to feature it in an online article please drop me an email at sarah@expatinfodesk.com, explaining your venture, the motivation behind it and any success stories you have and we'd be delighted to share you story with out readers.

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