For our interview series “We made it!”, we share our clients’ success stories in South Africa. This month we would like to introduce you to Kristin Ellen Jensen – the CEO of MEMETOR in Cape Town – a not so regular business consultancy with a ready-made model for how a company should run their business successfully.
IBN: What made you decide to relocate and why did you choose South Africa?
Kristin: I kind of ended up in South Africa by chance. I have always loved travelling and I have been living in a lot of different countries through my studies and work. At my previous job in New York I was offered a management position here in Cape Town 8 years ago.
I had been to Cape Town and South Africa earlier for a few days as part of an amazing overland tour in Southern Africa.
It was not difficult to accept the offer, and I thought it was worth a try for 6 months or so at least, and take it from there… I never left.
IBN: How long have you already lived in South Africa?
Kristin: I have lived in South Africa for 8 years now.
IBN: What do you do in South Africa?
Kristin: Together with my colleague, I started up a franchise of a Norwegian business consultancy concept called Memetor. We have offices in Oslo, Brussels, Singapore and Cape Town. I am facilitator, co-owner and CEO of our Cape Town office.
IBN: What makes your business idea special/what sets you apart?
Kristin: Memetor is not a regular business consultancy with a ready-made model for how a company should run their business successfully.
We believe our clients are the experts in their field.
That is why we custom-make workshops and programmes according to their specific needs and requests; to help them develop a more attentive management; durable alignment of their entire company; and to create a common ground for strategic onboarding for all employees.
The feedback we get is amazing.
As we introduce tools that are meant to stick, our clients learn how to use them in their professional lives, and the outcome is very effective for the company, both on an individual and collective level.
The founder of Memetor developed a unique and interactive methodology. It is based on different scientific genres and it enables the workforce to think more clearly, work more efficiently, and communicate better across various barriers such as organisational structures, cultures and different perspectives in and between all levels of an organisation.
IBN: What would you say are the advantages/disadvantages living in South Africa?
Kristin: I have travelled the world, and I think South Africa has it all, almost. Wonderful people, great climate (despite the recent drought), stunning landscapes and nature. As a Norwegian I especially enjoy the proximity to both the ocean and the big mountains. You also meet such great people here from a vast variety of different cultures, and a vibrant creative and innovative atmosphere. It is impossible to get bored here, and every day brings new adventures and unexpected experiences.
I love to hike the mountains, to cycle Cape Town Cycle Tour every year, enjoy the amazing food and wine, the music, festivals, safari, all kinds of markets and road trips with so much beauty to see.
It is also a challenging society to live in, with terrible contrasts between the rich and the poor, with high crime-rates and violence, and a very turbulent political and economic environment.
But on the other hand, in a global world, no matter where you are situated – you are still part of the inequalities and the huge contrasts between people with and without means.
By living here – and by witnessing it all close by – it has a positive side effect as it challenges you and is a constant reminder of what the real world looks like. It inspires you to become more involved and to try and make a difference, to try and contribute towards a better future for all.
IBN: What was your experience in relocating/setting up a business in South Africa?
Kristin: You obviously need all your papers in order – and the right connections. When I first moved to South Africa, I got my working-permit for shorter periods of time, so I had to reapply every second – and third year.
When we decided to set up our company, my colleague already had her permanent residency in South Africa, which meant it was easier for us to register and set up all the formalities for our Company. And, I had the management background that was the requirement I needed for my critical skills visa.
As with all start-ups it takes time to introduce your own concept to a new market – and to find the right networks, to market yourself, and to compete with already established businesses here.
IBN: How is your life in South Africa different from your home country and what do you like most about South Africa?
Kristin: Living in South Africa has broadened my horizon and keeps me alert and attentive. It inspires me in a very significant way. I interact with people from all over the world, and from all walks of life.
Here in Cape Town there is a special creative energy and a diversity dynamic that give you a special kind of buzz: the different people, all the cultures, the languages, the humour and the passion.
South Africa is called the Rainbow nation – and I think that is what I like the most about this country. It is colourful, beautiful and strong, and people like Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Thuli Madonsela were raised here. It gives you faith.
IBN: What do you dislike about South Africa?
Kristin: What makes me sad about South Africa is the history of racism and apartheid that is still affecting this country in such a negative way. The corruption, the poverty and the strained political situation of the country is disheartening.
However, it is encouraging that this country has so many talented and pro-active people, who are willing to fight for each other and to keep on working for the greater good. The South Africans never give up. That makes me proud.
IBN: What do you miss most from home?
Kristin: Most of all, I miss my family and friends. And, even though the nature here in South Africa is stunning, I still miss the snow and the mountains back home, and to go skiing.
IBN: What advice would you give people thinking about moving and/or setting up a business in South Africa?
Kristin: Do your proper due-diligence, prepare your move and stay up-dated. The immigration laws to set up a new business in South Africa, and all the paperwork needed, are changing all the time. So I would advise them to get professional help from someone who has the expertise in this area and can guide them through it.
IBN: What are your plans for the future?
Kristin: I plan to keep on working with my company so it will succeed and grow in South Africa. We have a unique and a very effective methodology that will help both local and international businesses and organisations to reach their goals here in South Africa – and beyond.
IBN: How was the IBN Team able to assist you in reaching your goals?
Kristin: The IBN Team has been amazing. They have been so easy to deal with, and their competencies, swiftness, and not the least their structured ways of handling the process made the whole experience completely stress-free.
It all went so much easier and faster than if I had tried to figure out all the laws, requirements and documents on my own.
They also advised me to hand in my application for Critical skills permit through the South African embassy in Norway. I could tell that the lady at the Embassy was impressed by the folder of papers that IBN had assembled in a very neat and professional manner.
In Norway it took them less than a week to give me my 5 years Critical skills permit. When I got back here again – IBN helped me with my Permanent residency application. After just a couple of months they accompanied me to the VFS office for the submission. I thought I would have to wait at least a year to get it – but with great surprise I received my Permanent residency after just a couple of months! I would never have got that without the help from the IBN Team.
IBN: Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. We wish you all the best in all your future endeavors!!!
Please do not hesitate to contact us for advice regarding immigration & visa, setting up business, property transfer & investment.
by Teri-Anne Hermans