Tanisha Colon-Bibb always planned on spending her life in New York — until love brought her halfway across the globe.
The 33-year-old entrepreneur grew up in Harlem as the youngest of four children. After graduating from Spelman College in 2010, she launched her first business, Rebelle Agency, helping clients in entertainment, non-profit and other fields coordinate their marketing and advertising strategies.
“I’ve really tried to work with talented people that want to use their voice for good,” Colon-Bibb tells CNBC Make It. “That’s led me to work with a lot of minority voices, whether it’s women, Black and Brown people or members of the LGBTQ community … it really brings me joy to help give a voice to marginalized people.”
In 2018, she launched her second business, a talent management firm called Rebelle Management. Running two businesses, however, became draining for Colon-Bibb and by the end of 2018, she says she felt “stuck” in New York. “I felt like all of my time and energy was spent toward building my business,” she notes. “I realized I wanted to experience new things and travel more.”
‘Love made me move to South Africa’
One trip to Cape Town would change her life. In November 2019, Colon-Bibb visited South Africa’s legislative capital for her friend’s wedding and met her boyfriend Malusi Siboto, a professional cricket player from Cape Town. “There were instant fireworks, it was love at first sight,” she recalls. They spent the next few months traveling throughout Africa and Europe together before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Tanisha and her boyfriend Malusi Siboto
Photo: Walter Randlehoff
The pair navigated a long-distance relationship and a seven-hour time difference for several months until international border restrictions were lifted in October 2020. Colon-Bibb moved to Johannesburg, where Siboto lives, that month. “It wasn’t even a second thought for me to come here, live with him and build our relationship,” she says. “I would definitely say love made me move to South Africa.”
While some of Colon-Bibb’s friends were skeptical at first about her moving in with a new boyfriend, they (along with her parents) have been supportive of her decision. “Most people are excited, but they also have a lot of questions, like ‘What are you doing there?’ and ‘How could you live in a completely different country?'” she says.
Getting a tourist visa from South Africa
In fall 2020, travelers from the United States were still considered high-risk for coronavirus transmission by the South African government, so Colon-Bibb couldn’t fly directly from New York to Johannesburg. She quarantined for two weeks in Ghana with a friend and flew to Johannesburg from there.