Photo Credit: Courtesy of Certified Africa
How This Attorney Found Love And Started A Successful Business In Ghana
Despite what American society would have us to believe, leaving a job that no longer serves you to move across the world is totally okay. St. Petersburg, Florida native Kristin Tellis Quaye, realized this after beginning her career as an attorney.
“Deep down, I always knew that the traditional lawyer or corporate 9-5 lifestyle wasn’t for me,” Quaye told Travel Noire. “But there literally was no blueprint or map for the type of life I wanted. I dreamed of traveling full time with my family, taking a break from work whenever I wanted and being able to work remotely from anywhere. However, I didn’t know anyone personally, especially any lawyers who were doing anything close to this.”
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While in law school she made her first trip to the Motherland through a visit to Ghana for a 3-month legal study abroad program. She felt if she didn’t take the trip before starting her career, she would have never gotten the chance.
That trip would literally change her path and open her eyes to the possibilities that the world had to offer outside of corporate America.
“I found my purpose of connecting the African Diaspora to the Continent, and I found acceptance in an amazing culture that I love to share with the world on a daily basis.”
Not only was she inspired to start her company Certified Africa, but she also found love.
During those 3 months of study abroad, she met her now husband Nii, who happened to be the assistant for the program. They initially locked eyes on her first day, during a tour of Accra. But, instantly found there was something real there.
“We literally spent every day together,” Quaye said. “He shared his life, family, friends, traditions and customs with me. I immersed myself in the culture, the foods, took the local transportation, spent time with Ghanaian families, learned and practiced Twi (local language) as much as I could, visited schools to volunteer with Jodeb Foundation, traveled to
the tallest waterfall in west Africa, visited Elmina and Cape Coast castles, went to the movies and mall, partied with friends on the weekends, attended church, learned to negotiate, learned what was socially acceptable, and the dos and don’t of the country.”
At the end of those three months Kristin and Nii realized they couldn’t be without one another. So a year later they got married. They spent the first year engaged living on different continents, so Kristin could finish law school. But Nii eventually moved to the states, so they could begin and build their new life.
Together again, the couple began the foundation for Certified Africa, and Nii was Kristin’s biggest supporter in the endeavor. Once she completed law school she took a two-year contract position, but found herself using her weekends and free time to put her all into her new company.
“When my two year contract with my job was up, I had to make a tough decision to get another job or cut ties with corporate America altogether. I chose the latter. It wasn’t easy, many of my family and friends didn’t understand why I would want to leave corporate America, and they didn’t believe that I would actually follow through.”
But Kristin found that it was definitely easier to leave the corporate life behind. Just two weeks after finishing her contract, Certified Africa took close to 100 people to Ghana, and the rest was history.
The couple now splits their time between Florida and Ghana, while running their business. They work to help Black travelers and entrepreneurs
connect with the culture, do business on the African continent, and share their entrepreneurial talents while contributing meaningfully to the development of Africa. They also offer a relocation service for those wanting to fully move to Africa and start a business.
“Ghana has been inviting Black people to come home and relocate, but the reality is that there is not a clear cut step by step process of how to do this,” she explained. “Instead there are a lot of people piecing together their relocation plans with YouTube videos, Facebook groups, and hearsay. Our program solves this problem by providing a formal step-by-step program, that goes into everything that is needed to make a move to Ghana successful.”