Creating Global Opportunities When You Branch Out

Here’s a clip from the BBC about Martha Makuena, an African woman from the Congo who emigrated to Beijing more than a decade ago. She operates the city’s first official African hair salon – and  look who her clientele includes! What does it say about the appeal of black women when so many people want to emulate our style?

There’s a video interview at BBC you can view, but the embed links didn’t work to post. Here are some excerpts:

“We have customers come in from all around China, they catch their train at night, they arrive in Beijing early in the morning. They come here and get their hair done and they catch their train back home at night. The other time we had one, she saw a Chinese artist that braided her hair and she wanted her hair braided the same way. For them they say, ‘I want to look cool.’”

“When I’m with [my kids] we speak Chinese. When doing business in China, the most important thing is the language. When you understand the language, you understand the person.”

“People when they look at Africans, they mostly they think about bad things….but now people are seeing that I’m here, so they respect me. They don’t look at me as an African, they look at me as a person doing business.”

Did you notice she stated her fluency in that she speaks Chinese (at home) to her children?

She left her war-torn, strife-filled environment and moved to a place where she could thrive. So can you.

The Voice (UK) also has an article about a London-based hairstylist who conducts trainings in Bulgaria to meet the beauty needs of the growing black population there. If you’re surprised about Bulgaria being a hotbed of ex-pat living, I can guarantee there are other places where the adventurous woman can go to seek out new experiences.

I wonder if the fact that native-born black women in the United States are more reluctant to branch out compared to our African and Caribbean sisters (from moving abroad to interracial marriage) because we’re US citizens and arguably have it so good here.  I’m not going to debate the intricacies of the benefits and the pitfalls of the current status quo, but as always it is something worthy of further review.  The great thing about our living abroad is that we have the option of returning.

Black women are any/everywhere they choose to be!

12 comments to Creating Global Opportunities When You Branch Out

  • This is such an inspirational story. Who would have thought that an African hair braiding business could thrive in China? This woman didn't know that her business would be successful-she just knew that securing a safe home was a priority. Putting first things first is SO important-the rest will work itself out.

    I've researched how it's possible to completely start over without being rich, highly educated, or "lucky". There are so many resources for anyone that wants to live well-I can't understand any of the excuses given for why these things aren't "possible." People are doing impossible things (like running thriving hair-braiding businesses in China!) every day.

  • L, Higgins

    Love this article, I am a nursing major and attending Pasadena City College. I currently taking Mandarian Chinese 1; planning to finish the complete course of classes.When I tranfer to university for BSN, I will be certified in Mandarian Chinese.

  • Patricia Kayden

    Such a nice post. Kudos to Ms. Makuena. Kind of ironic that she's doing Chinese people's hair in China when here in America all you see are Black women flocking to get their manicures/pedicures from Asian businesses. Nothing wrong with that but wonder why Black businesses aren't patronized by Asians here.

    "She left her war-torn, strife-filled environment and moved to a place where she could thrive. So can you."

    Amen. I came to the US after not being able to get into graduate school in my former country. My dad used to always say that when you're young, you should be willing to go anywhere to be successful. A good friend also encouraged me to stop applying for graduate schools in my former country and apply in the U.S. Got accepted in all three schools.

    Get up and make your dreams come true is a message that needs to be said over and over again to BW. There's no need to stay in dangerous inner city communities where people are dragging each other down and literally killing each other over nothing. My heart bleeds for the young women who feel stuck.

  • BWLivingWell

    "She left her war-torn, strife-filled environment and moved to a place where she could thrive. So can you."

    This why I very rarely buy excuses from bw, especially bw w/ children on why they can't move from Blackistan to a safer neighborhood.
    When you have a bw like this who makes a significant move like this, what is your excuse for not moving literally 30 min away from the ghetto??? I know I sound harsh, but when child's safety is at risk, these parent's complacency drives me nuts.

    Speaking of hair braiders, there seems to be a growing braiding community of bw from African countries, particularly the French-speaking ones (Cameroon, Senegal, Mali, etc). Just like the Vietnamese have a hold on the nail salon biz, I these group of women are taking over the braiding business in the U.S., at least where I live. They sure are creating opportunities for themselves.

    When they aren't braiding, they are holding down minimum wage jobs and going to school pt and ft. Oh and what do you know, they are in the US LEGALLY :) Another reason why I don't want to hear excuses of illegal immigrants from south of the border, but i digress.

  • MesaATLien

    Yes! Black women should travel more and see what's out there, especially when we're young and have the opportunity! No one's saying you have to pack all your belongings and start all over again, but it was a joy for me to experience new things when I traveled abroad for the first time last year.

    • Faith

      J, If you wrote a blog post about your travels it would encourage so many other young women college-age and younger. Think about it.

      • MesaATLien

        Hmm, I've thought about starting a blog for while now, but I'm afraid I'll never keep up with it and/or I'll run out of things to talk about! I guess my Facebook has kind of turned into my own little blog, since I DO update that a lot and talk about what I'm up to.