A Discussion About Emerging Market Relocation

Significant segments of this article were originally published by Executive Expatriate Relocations Middle East (EERME).

As the world collectively attempts to combat the impact of the recent global pandemic, much of the focus is on rebuilding and strengthening economies. Governments and organisations continue to determine which avenues and actions will be most beneficial, both in the short term and the long term. One undeniable source of economic growth is geographical expansion, particularly into areas that will be a catalyst for new consumers and new revenue streams; this is where emerging markets come in. For many companies emerging markets offer a unique opportunity for development, but any potential prosperity is highly dependent on a successful relocation strategy, which can be more challenging than expected.

Our MD, Rene Stegmann, recently joined EER’s Marie O’Neill, Elite Woodhams Relocation’s Anna Kavelj, and A.P. Moller-Maersk’s Tamlyn Kuhn in a EuRA webinar about Considerations When Relocating to Emerging Markets. Together, they examined the crucial considerations required to take advantage of this lucrative arena.

The Importance of Emerging Markets

Coined by the World Bank in 1981, this phrase is intended to apply to any country or economy that has “some characteristics of a developed market, but does not fully meet its standards”.  Unsurprisingly many countries have found themselves shifting in and out of the moniker as their status adapts or circumstances change. Essentially though, markets that fall within and around the definition of ‘emerging’ continue to be of great interest when it comes to international expansion. Emerging markets offer enormous potential for diversification and growth. They often feature an ambitious population, fresh, creative talent, amenable governments and, of course, new demographics of consumers.  In the past engagement with emerging markets has helped propel the fortunes of organisations and the economies of their home nations exponentially and in turn transformed the landscape of the engaged market. In order to fully integrate with an emerging market, a company needs to facilitate a smooth relocation process and that is only possible if proper adherence is given to the challenges and obstacles that might be faced and expert help sought on how to avoid or overcome them.

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation

Just so you know we really mean it.  Preparation is absolutely critical when it comes to emerging market relocation. Ensuring that you can do this successful is entirely related to your local connections. Without the proper research and knowledge, it becomes almost impossible to navigate the nuances of new destinations and avoid costly mistakes. Those considering relocation must ensure they have trusted in-country partners with expert local knowledge and an unimpeachable sense of how things work on the ground. By investing in forging those connections it is then possible to determine key aspects that will be required from your employees, your administration and your budget. Regional insights are always invaluable when it comes to relocation and that expertise can ensure a smoother process that means assignees can focus on their role and get stuck in from day one. Local partners can advise on elements such as:

  • Relevant requirements and laws to abide by, including taxes
  • Time lines and compliance for immigration and visa services
  • Potential customer bases and audience demographics
  • Best-suited locations for commercial and residential properties
  • Cultural customs and unique attributes
  • Employee relocation considerations from housing to schools, bank accounts to utilities

A Collaborative Approach

When any company is looking at emerging market relocation, the chance of success can be significantly increased if they adopt a collaborative approach across the whole organisation.  Every department needs to be comprehensively briefed so that objectives are understood and actions taken that facilitate their achievement efficiently. Procurement, HR, Senior Leadership and others need to make sure they are on the same page.  By implementing a robust talent management approach they can ensure they have the right people helping them on the ground, the right people coordinating the company’s new strategy and the right people to cope with the stresses of relocating their life.

Communication is King

As with many areas of business, communication is incredibly important. Any company looking to relocate to an emerging market needs to make sure it can effectively communicate with:

  • Local partners on what their objectives are and important cultural understandings
  • Relevant authorities on what rules and regulations will be
  • Internally with teams managing relocation and assignees being relocated
  • New audiences within the market on raising brand awareness and generating interest

Prioritizing communication and ensuring it remains consistent throughout the whole process can be a huge factor in avoiding potential pitfalls such as complex business requirements and ‘lost in translation’ mistakes.  It will also help to manage expectations. Expert DSPs will be able to communicate key information and potentially surprising aspects. They can relay that things may well work differently than expected such as overall concepts of time, common cultural attitudes, political upheaval, technology holes and problematic infrastructure.  They can also coordinate cultural training that can provide invaluable knowledge for the company and the assignee to understand their new environment and hit the ground running.

Ultimately emerging market relocation isn’t right for every company.  They need to weight the risk and reward elements of any expansion decision to prevent costly issues. Companies need to research the proposed location, connect with local experts, foster effective communication and choose the right assignee to undertake the challenge. If they can successfully do those things then they are left with nothing but potential and opportunity.

To watch the recorded webinar, click here, or watch it in the media player below.

To discuss relocating to emerging markets in more detail with us, and to find out how we might assist you with relocation services across Africa, feel free to contact us via the details below, or visit our website by clicking here.


For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].