WATCH: SA expats are losing out on their greatest asset


Cape Town – South African entrepreneurs who leave the country for good to live in greener First World pastures are giving up their greatest asset, according to an international businessman based in SA.

South Africans have been given the greatest gift ever, said Wealth Migrate CEO Scott Picken.

WATCH: Interview with Scott Picken

That gift is the ability to succeed in an emerging economy, “where chaos was the normality and change was something we all just got used to”.

Picken was recently on Richard Branson's private Necker Island estate, where he had the rare privilege of being inspired by the Virgin empire owner.

“If you think about how you have to succeed in the 21st century, that’s exactly what it’s all about,” he told Fin24 in a studio interview. “Especially in the emerging economy.”

His message to South Africans is that they should not jump ship to Australia or England. By jumping ship, you will “take your greatest skill and lose it, because you’re in a First World country, where change and chaos is not the normality”.

However, he said South Africans should not limit their prospects to South Africa.

The British Empire did not become great because it remained in England, he said, but because it travelled the globe for opportunities and brought its wealth back home.   

“My question to South Africans is: why can’t we do that as well?”

Picken said South Africans are formidable entrepreneurs around the world, with Elon Musk being the most successful.

It's nou, not 'no'

Someone once told Picken how the word “no” sounds like the Afrikaans word “nou”, which means “now”.

“So (to) the average South African all over the world, when they’re told ‘no’, other people just listen, but we feel we have to do it ‘now’,” he said.

Picken recently held a workshop series around South Africa called Plan B, which looked at plans entrepreneurs have for their future.

He said people were most concerned about their wealth preservation. “How do you get to live in Africa and enjoy this abundant, brilliant place, but also put your assets in First World currencies… so you can have the best of both worlds?” he asked.

“Some of the debates were about passports and whether you should go get a First World passport. The challenge is generally if you get a First World passport, you don’t end up buying a decent asset.”

* Scott Picken has responded to the below comments. He said: "Thanks for all the positive feedback. I think people need to understand what I am saying is live in South Africa and do business overseas. I live in Knysna, one of the most beautiful places in the world, but have a global business. It is all about hedging your bets and having the best of all worlds."

* Fin24 will continue to receive comments, but will moderate them to ensure positive feedback. For more in-depth comments or views, please send them now to Fin24.

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