Photo Credit: The Exodus Collective
How One Grenadian Woman Is Inspiring The Diaspora To Move To The Caribbean
Zoe Smith wants to make it easier for Black people to move to the Caribbean. The British-Grenadian single mother of three is a former journalist turned diversity and inclusion consultant. She founded The Exodus Collective as a platform to inspire people in the African Diaspora to relocate to the Caribbean and to help equip them with the knowledge they need to do so.
“The goal is to empower more Black folks to start making their exodus,” she told Travel Noire. “I want them to realize that they can choose to live in beautiful, tropical surroundings where they can thrive and sustainably contribute to the development of the islands.”
Through weekly video interviews sharing their experiences, people who have made the decision to move to the Caribbean provide advice and inspiration. There is also an packed with practical information and useful tips.
Zoe initially had the idea to create the platform when she realized so many second generation individuals in the diaspora were thinking about moving to Caribbean, but found the absence of easily accessible digital information to be a stumbling block.
Having experienced living and working abroad in Italy, Spain, and Grenada over the years, Zoe knows first-hand how helpful it can be to start researching and building your network in advance of moving. This can help reduce the number of uncertainties you’ll face when you finally touch down in your destination.
She noticed there were a number of amazing, resourceful sites encouraging Black people to move to the Motherland. And though she was convinced there was demand for a similar offering in the Caribbean, she had not found any sites of this sort.
But it was the murder of George Floyd that finally made Zoe feel that now, more than ever, there was a dire need for this type of platform. She had to bring her idea to fruition, and she wasn’t going to wait any longer.
“The idea for The Exodus Collective had been in my head for years. But it was a conversation with a friend from the U.S. in the heady days following the killing of George Floyd, and the subsequent uprising, that made me feel an urgent responsibility to show Black folks that there is another way of being, and that escaping ‘Babylon’ can be done. So, I decided to put my skills as a journalist to use and started creating content.”
Black people looking to leave the U.S., the U.K., or whatever ‘Babylon’ they may be living in, can enjoy many benefits through a move to the Caribbean.
Whether it’s enjoying the slower pace of life, a deeper connection to nature, or even just the chance to live in spaces where we are less impacted by racism, the Caribbean offers many idyllic places to just simply be.
“Of course, although it may look like paradise, no Caribbean country is a utopia. Island life can come with unique challenges. Despite this, the opportunity to live in a space where you can truly feel balanced and connect to a greater sense of community in which you can make a visible impact is one that I highly recommend exploring.”
Zoe wants to combat the narrative of the typical person to move to the Caribbean being a multi-millionaire or retiree looking to put their feet up. She tells the stories of those who’ve made the move in the prime of their youth and who are committed to contributing to positive social change on the islands.
Rather than depicting the West Indies as just a holiday destination for those looking for purely fun and enjoyment, she aims to encourage young, talented, innovative individuals to come live on the islands, where they’ll have a real opportunity to make a positive impact.
“I hope to reverse the brain drain that the Caribbean has been experiencing for decades. What better time than now? The region, which has also been hit hard by the pandemic, is in need of a real boost.”
With both of her parents hailing from Grenada, the Caribbean’s Spice Isle, Zoe has been visiting the region since she was a child. The COVID-19 pandemic has been preventing her from traveling, however, she looks forward to giving people a virtual view of island life, once she is able to leave the U.K. again.
Later this year, The Exodus Collective will be launching an extended stay program for Grenada. This program aims to bring creatives and innovators from across the African diaspora to the island for a unique opportunity to work remotely while enjoying curated experiences that help them feel plugged in to the local community.
“It’s a bit like the Barbados digital nomad program, but it’s designed with Black folks in mind. So whether it’s immersing yourself in the local cuisine with group sessions hosted by local chefs, collaborating and connecting with local artists, or even just getting a helping hand to select the finest Black-owned properties for your stay, from beginning to end, it’ll be about community-building and empowerment.”