In our blog-series “WE MADE IT” we introduce our clients and their companies. Usually emigrants and company founders come to South Africa with a vision. This time we interviewed Brigitta Schmidlin and Franz Kunz, who gave us a little insight on how it is like to move from Switzerland to South Africa and how they started their guesthouse 4-Heaven in Somerset West.
IBN: What made you decide to relocate and why did you choose South Africa?

Franz & Brigitta: Brigitta and I have fallen in love with this beautiful country on our travels years ago. Although the social differences are nowhere near as great as in South Africa, the pulsating life, the friendliness of the people, the beauty of nature, the impressive animal world and the level of gastronomy have always inspired us. For us, however, was clear when South Africa, then in the greater Cape Town area. Here we feel more in Europe than in Africa. If you live and work here, it is also important that you get everything in the supermarket and shops are quickly accessible.

 IBN: How long have you already lived in South Africa?

 Franz & Brigitta: We now live exactly 1 year in Somerset West

 IBN: What do you do in South Africa?

Franz & Brigitta:  We have bought the 4-heaven Guesthouse in Somerset West as we want to fulfill our passion to be a host. We are also infected with the Mountain bike virus. In the future, we want to focus on mountain bike enthusiastic guests and bring them closer to all the beauties of nature, the culture and the animal world. The fact that our region is also called the “gourmet temple” of Africa makes it even more exciting.

IBN: What makes your business idea special/what sets you apart?

Franz & Brigitta: In Switzerland, we handed over our cycling business 2 years ago. We organized around 50 events every year, including mountain bike holidays. Therefore, we have a very large network. We know the most beautiful Bike spots in South Africa and have also built up the necessary infrastructure and let our guests the perfect equipment. The tourists in South Africa are also convinced that mountain bikers will be the guests of the future and invest in a huge, marked trail network and organize great mountain bike events.

IBN: What would you say are the advantages/disadvantages living in South Africa?

Franz & Brigitta: Even though we love the snow, we appreciate the perfect climate in South Africa. 3700 hours of sunshine says already everything. Here everything is much more relaxed and there is a saying word; God gave the clocks to the Europe’s – and the Africans the time.

As we have mainly guests from Europe we therefore still tick after the clock. Since the Africans tick after the time, it is sometimes very tedious if you need a craftsman until he is finally on the spot. The duty of care at work is what makes us the most trouble.

IBN: What was your experience in relocating/setting up a business in South Africa?

Franz & Brigitta:  In South Africa, there are many obstacles to the immigration and opening of a business. Here I find it important to take a professional, who knows the customs of a country and the laws. We have found the right partner with IBN, which also has the necessary network. I would not recommend to anyone to do this on their own.

 IBN: How is your life in South Africa different from your home country and what do you like most about South Africa?

Franz & Brigitta: Here everything is less hectic, people take more time. When we were back in Switzerland for the first time in 9 months, everything felt so small and tight that we missed the broad space we are now used to.

IBN: What do you dislike about South Africa?

Franz & Brigitta:  In Switzerland, you can also move around freely at night and you can also do your jogging round at night. You are not surrounded by surveillance and gateways. Here, however, the social differences are so great that you must adjust to live with it.

IBN: What do you miss most from home?

Franz & Brigitta: We mostly miss family and friends as well as a week of skiing in Switzerland

 IBN: What advice would you give people thinking about moving and/or setting up a business in South Africa?

Franz & Brigitta: It needs the necessary financial resources and a good business idea. I believe that in South Africa one can not become rich, but most rich in quality of life. One must not underestimate the work environment. It is also important that in a partnership both want the same, otherwise it will be very difficult. Discuss the whole idea way in advance with your loved ones, because they certainly have trouble with your thoughts to emigrate. It was extremely important to us that we did not completely break down our tents in Switzerland and can go back at any time. We spend the South African winter (June-August) in our old swiss home.

IBN: What are your plans for the future?

Franz & Brigitta:  From autumn onwards, we offer 2-week mountain biking trips to the Cape. In the future, however, we would also like to offer tours more towards inland of South Africa and Namibia, because this huge country has so much to offer. But we want to remain faithful to our motto – small and fine.

IBN: How was the IBN Team able to assist you in reaching your goals?

Franz & Brigitta:  We can recommend IBN 100%, the whole team around Dirk Meissner supported us excellently. When our plans were clear, we were still 100% engaged in our sports business with 30 employees and did not have time to travel to South Africa all the time. We have communicated with IBN much via WhatsApp, Skype and via e-mail. The team always stayed on the ball, even when we did not always send the requested documents immediately. They have accompanied us through the various stages and official departments as well as the necessary documents were always 100% prepared and available. Many thanks to Julia Moss, Kyle Ernstzen and Dirk Meissner.

IBN: Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. We wish you both the best in all your future endeavors!!!

207 Helderberg College Road
7130 Somerset West
Tel:  +27 (0)21 855 5061
Cell: +27 (0)72 013 8010

Please do not hesitate to contact us for advice regarding immigration & visa, setting up business, property transfer & investment.

by Dirk Meissner