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Business, like life, is hard and full of uncertainties. If anyone doubted that, Corona virus has set that record straight. Introspection and reflection gives new perspectives, so I write these words as I reflect on the man I have come to respect as my hero as he celebrates his birthday.
For all the reasons he has been in the news, I have always been fascinated about the social commentary about him. I always compared those commentaries with the fondness on his 60th birthday when the overwhelming show of love made him cry.
I have had the rare privilege of getting to know the man personally and his heart is as beautiful as the man, with deep love for humanity. I write to pass on the hope he has always held on to, the hope that Ghana will get better. I write to a young entrepreneur who may per adventure read this. But I also write to highlight some things for which that hope may never happen if we do not change as a people.
He tells a story about his father, He says, his father told him “Oheneba, your grandfather before he died said, ‘Danquah and his friend, Nkrumah, says the ‘Obroni’ should go? Africans are wicked oooh, and if they go what we will do to each other will be worst.” His grandfather thus had very little hope for ‘change’ and progress but told his father, if even that change was possible, he was not sure he will see that dream with his eyes or in his lifetime and that since his father was younger, he was going to wait for him at the other side, hopefully he will come with good news of that ‘change’.
Well, his father when he told him this story also said, ‘I will tell your grandfather, I did not see this change, neither did it happen in my time but I told Kofi, maybe by the time he comes, the story will have changed.’
He then says, “I have committed to being that change irrespective of how dimming the flicker of hope may be, hoping one day I do not have to say to my ancestors, I did not find that ‘change’ and things have actually gotten far worst.”
There was a reason his company was called Unique Trust. He knew trust was fragile and yet it was the single most important thing we needed as a society, trust to work together and to build great legacies.
In trusting, he may have trusted some wrong people, loans were given to people who will ordinarily never get financing anywhere, all with the hope that, they will use the money to create a bit more wealth for our motherland Ghana.
When the man retired from the bank in 2015 far before the collapse of UT Bank in 2017, were there issues? Yes, but so was there life in the company. He had trusted a completely new management, fresh energy to believe in the Ghanaian project as much as he did, but some of those people proved to be a complete mistake.
He always said, “it is not as though, I did not know putting money in treasury bills as a bank was more secured and could guarantee the bank wealth for the rest of our entire generations, but I risked creating risk assets so the poor woman who sells at Makola market could also leverage and grow, so she could take her child to school too, expand the economy and can create more jobs.” He has been called all sorts of names for trying to do what he honestly believed was right for the economy, to solve the problem of lack for finance that has existed for the Ghanaian business for centuries.
He chose the more difficult path instead of being the banker who buys treasury bills, sleeps and makes profit. He sought the development and deepening of our financial services. We may debate the method but never question his intents and motives.
So to the young entrepreneur who is doing everything to get things working and yet fails at everything, remember the ten commandments I have learnt from Mr. Amoabeng:
- When you fail, you earn the right to the lesson. Failure can serve you a bit more than success can. Success can blind you of the obvious, but failure creates solitude that helps thinking clearly.
- Trust is sacred, don’t give it to everyone. Like pigs will trample on precious jewels so will your trust be wasted if you give it to the wrong people. You cannot afford to trust the wrong people; neither should you be paranoid to the point where you distrust the right people.
- Time is the summary of your life. Use it wisely.
- Anytime he says keep walking, he truly means that. Standing still guarantees no outcomes, moving forward does not guarantee success either, but it will at least guarantee growth.
- If all you have is cash, then you will truly be a poor man. Treasure people, respect everyone and seek uplifting communities. A productive culture is far more important.
- The fact that you broke your back for someone in their difficult times does not mean they will do the same thing for you. Learn, hopefully not the hard way, that, people forget your good deeds and may even rise with a ‘sense of duty’ and judgement when your own day of trail comes.
- There are still honest, good people out there, so do not give up on everyone.
- Success and intelligence are not the qualities most average Ghanaians admire in others, people will think you stole the money or are too known; be successful and smart anyway.
- Family will hold you together when everything falls.
- Nothing is impossible when God is on your side.
I have a lot to say about the man but I will only say this for today as I wish him happy birthday and pray AGAPE shall hold and guide him for his story is by no means over. Happy birthday sir, may God bless you and perfect all that concerns you