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“Go Write Your Own Story”

This address was delivered by the Chief Executive Officer of BEIGE Capital, Mr. Mike Nyinaku at the 7th Congregation of The University of Professional Studies Accra; on 15th August 2015.

Mike Nyinaku addressing the Congregation.

Mike Nyinaku addressing the Congregation.

Honourable Minister, The Chancellor of UPSA – His Royal Majesty (HRM), Drolor Bosso Adamtey I, The Vice Chancellor, Graduands & distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, my presence at this event and on this campus brings back a lot of memories, some, quite gripping. You have no idea what honour you have done me by this invitation. I thank you dearly.

As I take account of the state of development of this place, I cannot help but salute the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Joshua Alabi for the amazing transformation his leadership has brought unto this institution. As an alumnus of this school, I can only imagine what it took to achieve this feat. It is my belief that the founder of this institution, The Venerable Opoku Ampomah, would be proud of what we have turned his legacy into.

As we mark the 50th Anniversary of the school, I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations – on behalf of all alumni – to the entire administration and the student body. And most of all, I profoundly would like to congratulate the graduating class – It’s your day. Enjoy it.

Before I pour out to you, let me share with you this piece I heard only weeks ago.

The story is told of two Professors from African Universities who had been invited to the United States by another university there. One of the Professors was Ghanaian. The 2 boarded the private plane which was set for their journey. Before the plane took off, the pilot announced, “this plane is about to have its maiden flight.” The Pilot further added that the plane was built by the students of these 2 Professors. One of them jumped out immediately. The other, upon hearing this announcement, asked for a drink and adjusted his seat to relax. He said, “well, if this plane was built by my students, then I know it won’t even take off”

I know it’s an expensive joke, but believe me, it’s the stark reality facing Corporate Ghana today.

Today I would share three stories with you. First, I would share some stories about my life on this campus. Then I’d share with you lessons I have learnt as I left school to face real life. And finally, I would share with you my hopes and aspirations for tomorrow.

My personal stories
I was raised by a less than average family. My mum, the rock around which my small family revolved, had given her all to see me – the first of three kids through high school. My mum had lost her formal job as a secretary in one of the defunct banks following a mass retrenchment exercise carried out during my time in high school. And I recall so vividly, the tears in her eyes as I read to her the contents of my admission letter to the then IPS. With teary eyes, she held my hand and confessed that I may have to abandon it as she had no clue how she was going to finance the registration fee. That was in January 1996 and the amount is the equivalent of GHc 28, in today’s terms.

Thanks to the kindness of an amazing woman, Mrs. Gifty Affenyi Dadzie – I finally got enrolled into IPS in 1996 originally to read ICAG. That was the beginning of more adventure. Barely a month after I enrolled into first year, the results of the last held ICA exams were released. This was around March of the same year. The pass rate was under 15%. This alarmed me and my then new found friend and course mate named Zimbo. So out of curiosity, we enquired why the pass rate was that low.

The general feedback we got, which of course no one could substantiate to us, was that it was difficult to pass the ICA exams. And at the time, this seemed true because there were quite a number of students in their third year at the time who had still not completely passed the foundation stage. So for freshmen like Zimbo and I, who had similar circumstances, this was alarming as already our living in school was borrowed – if you know what I mean – and one could not contend with the possibility of going through the entire three-year stay only to come out with nothing.

As crazy as it may seem, we decided to switch courses. That was a very absurd option at the time, because the only courses to choose from were ACCA and CIMA – both UK based courses which were far more expensive than the ICA.  To make matters worse for me, ACCA had been removed from the curriculum of courses being offered by the school at the time so there was no official class in our year group that was pursuing ACCA. These odds notwithstanding, my friend Zimbo opted for CIMA and I chose ACCA.

And here’s the interesting part…The administration at the time did not allow you to switch courses so unfortunately, Mr. Vice Chancellor, I would have to confess what we did. We would always attend the ICA class just to sign the attendance register and walk out. This was important because if we did not do that, we risked losing the opportunity to access our students’ loan.  Then we would sneak into the CIMA class to listen to their lectures and in my case, I did particularly for those lectures that were relevant. This happened for about 3 months until we were caught and finally totally outlawed from the CIMA class.

So for the rest of the three years I spent on this campus, I combed around class to class, reading any material that I considered relevant to prepare me for my ACCA exams. How I funded the rather expensive choice of ACCA is a story I’d share another day – given the opportunity.

I hope this confession would not rob me off my alumnus status, because UPSA is all I have to show that I had some university education and any decision to take it away might cause me great stress.

I took these decisions personally without consulting anyone. I could not tell my mum at the time as it would further drain her. Looking back, however, it was one of the best decisions I made in life and you would understand as I explain further. It turned out that the decision to quit the ICA class coupled with the fact that my year group did not have any official class for ACCA meant, I was a freelance student and had a lot of free time for three years.

Mike Nyinaku, speaking.

Mike Nyinaku, speaking.

That was when I started my first company – Primeconsult. Please don’t get too impressed, it was a pocket-sized company formed out of a need to make ends meet. I did not even have a call card to show for it until after about 2 years. But I had enough time to go round prospecting for business all over Madina, from Red Lobster to Randy Pharmacy at Madina old road. There’s no corner in Madina that I do not know of. Rather strangely, I kept the news of all these private ventures to myself. My colleagues, not even Zimbo, had a clue of how I raised funds for my upkeep. At one time, I was a part-time bookkeeper for a communication centre that operated at the great hall of this institute and no one knew about this. Why I kept all that to myself, I did not understand but on hindsight, I realize that was very wise as it helped maintain my focus.

And now to the real life out there
Back in the then IPS, we used to have an idealist picture of life after school. Somehow, there was information on what some old students were earning as salaries, so we all had this idea of how much we would be paid, the type of car we would buy, and other fantasies.

But the experience I had when I got out of school, was entirely different.To be selected for an interview was even a challenge let alone secure a job. And to put it bluntly, there were a lot more candidates out there with same or more competitive grades who had not had any offers yet.

Experience further revealed that the stories we heard of people’s earnings were either not true or outrageously exaggerated. Incomes were average, jobs were scarce and life out there was tougher. That was the reality and I presume that, that reality still persists, unless otherwise proven.

And in your case, the Ghana you are going to face has evolved even faster. This is the generation of entrepreneurship and self-help. These days, the world has nothing to offer you but rather looks out for what you have to offer it. And I am going to share with you a piece of what to expect out there.

The type and nature of companies you are likely to work for
Most of the companies you are likely to secure jobs with are entrepreneurial by nature. They are barely 15years old, still struggling at maturity, their systems are not comprehensively structured, are mostly owned by one individual or a small group of partners who most likely would be actively working with the company on a day-to-day basis as well. Yes, we call them SMEs and they constitute about 90% of companies formally registered in Ghana.

Do not expect perfection from them. You would be asking too much if you do. And wait a minute, they are not anxiously expecting you, don’t kid yourself. This is because they have seen a lot of graduates who possess no skills, so really they cannot be bothered. I am sorry I have to be this blunt but it’s the truth.

The type of leaders you would have
The type of leaders you are going to encounter – be they CEOs, senior managers or regular supervisors, are ruthless – to say the least. They themselves have not reached their peak and are usually driven by a relentless passion to hurdle the challenges confronting them so they meet their aspirations.

I am afraid to say, these guys would demand a lot from you, put you through crazy tasks and routines and yet not be willing to pay you any much. It is true because they really do not have much or can’t afford it as their businesses are fairly young….Be prepared for a tough ride!

The kind / quality of remuneration to expect
Businesses now are beginning to hire and pay people for what they can do and not what academic qualification they have. The days of my mum, where one would be promoted at the workplace just because they had upgraded their academic qualification are long gone. Now businesses pay for what they get.

Do not get me wrong. Upgrading yourself is good but if it does not translate into an improved quality of work, then it would not mean anything for your employer.

The need for patience and apprenticeship
What you have gained as you graduate from school today is knowledge. It is powerful but limited. Unless combined with practicable application of your knowledge, it cannot turn into skill. But unfortunately, skill is also what industry really requires. So you should prepare to submit yourself through a process of learning through which you would acquire some skills. I call it apprenticeship.

But that process takes time and in present day, some of us are so hungry to acquire the material things of this life that we are unwilling to go through the process that would transform us. Truth be told, apprenticeship is a long painful process but it pays-this virtue is not only a cardinal principle in life but also biblical for those of you who share the Christian faith.

An example is, for us accountants; it is a known fact that practicing firms pay the least for the job grades. But indeed they also offer you the most valuable work experiences that any finance person worth their sort can have. I realized it later when I made a career move; that, the time I spent as an audit trainee at Deloitte & Touche – in spite of the salary – was the period that I developed my best skills in financial accountancy.

You have to resist the temptation to switch jobs at the least opportunity. It does not give a good account of yourself, to your would-be employer.

Failures are normal…they make the story complete
Be prepared for setbacks because they would come. Some of you may not make it much high on the corporate ladder, some of you would become employers of some of you…its real. Yes the truth hurts but that’s life,

I may appear composed today but behind me is an awful pack of failed moves. And in my case, I am still failing at a lot of things.

Remember that the stories of greatness are not only limited to the ones who succeeded ultimately, but also credited to the ones who pioneered but failed; for without them, the latter men would not have even dared to scratch the surface.

The many great inventions of today have come about as a result of the learnings gleaned from the failures of the original men who started it all.

Life is short
Life is incredibly short. It has been short in the days of our fathers and it looks to me like it’s even shorter in our time. I recall so vividly just a few years back when I was honoured as youth personality of the year. It is barely 3years ago. I’m 39 today and they don’t see me as youth anymore. Too bad. But my days are quickly fading away.

I am beginning to believe that most of you are averagely 24years…strangely enough, in Africa, they make you feel you are young, even when at my age. So there is the temptation to feel you have time…Do not fall for it. If you do, it would take you forever to realize your aspirations. The following statistics would further convince you.

  • When Steve Jobs started Apple in his parents’ garage, he was 20.
  • Reverend Mensah Otabil started Central Gospel Church at age 25.
  • Our own Dr. Sam Jonah was CEO of AGC in his mid-thirties.
  • And the late P.V. Obeng was an advisor to the head of state at the time at age 33.

You don’t have time at all…Today is what you have. Tomorrow might not be yours. So make the best of what you have.

My hopes & aspirations
I stand before you today not promising you an easy life but daring you to outdo yourselves. The reality of the world out there is harsh but if I have survived, you can too. This world has opportunities for every one of you, if only you are prepared to push beyond your comfort zones. Today in Ghana, you do not need to bear a particular surname to be recognized as important. University education is no longer a preserve for the rich. And if that young skinny kid with the Muslim middle name – Hussein, was daring to contest and win the presidency of the United States of America, then believe that anything is possible.

The single most powerful force that would influence and can also come between you and what you would become in the future, is you. I mean, you. If there is anything you must overcome as you step out…it is FEAR. Fear has the ability to crowd your imagination and keep you from unleashing yourself towards your goals.

The stories of the people you see as successful today should inspire you to eschew average performance. But as you look up to them, do not be caught in the web of thinking they are the standard. Resist the temptation to assume their stories to be the ultimate standards for now. Remember that theirs was then and yours is now. You also must have a story to write. I challenge you to go out there and raise the bar.

Having come this far alone is a testimony of your willingness and preparedness to succeed.  And if you are in doubt, listen to one of my favorite stories from the Bible.

It’s about some lepers who had been banished from Israel because of their condition. And to make matters worse, there was famine on the land and Israel was also at war with her neighbors. The story can be found in II Kings 7 vrs 3-7.

Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate; and they said to one another, “Why sit we here till we perish”? 4 If we say, ‘We will enter the city,’ the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore, come, let us surrender to the army of the Syrians. If they keep us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall only die.”

5 And they rose at twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians; and when they had come to the outskirts of the Syrian camp, to their surprise no one was there. 6 For the Lord had caused the army of the Syrians to hear the noise of chariots and the noise of horses—the noise of a great army; so they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians to attack us!” 7 Therefore they arose and fled at twilight, and left the camp intact—their tents, their horses, and their donkeys—and they fled for their lives. 8 And when these lepers came to the outskirts of the camp, they went into one tent and ate and drank, and carried from it silver and gold and clothing, and went and hid them; then they came back and entered another tent, and carried some from there also, and went and hid it.

I derive a great deal of inspiration from this account of the lepers in the good book. It is one of the greatest testimonies of hope, in a time of adversity and I’d encourage you to take a read when you have the time.

And let me not forget this……for my friends in THIRD CLASS and below. Never mind, most of us CEOs were drop-outs.

My friends, if you have made it this far then you should be willing to trudge on.

Congratulations once again, it is time now to go out into the world and “WRITE YOUR OWN STORY”.

God bless!

“GHANA HAS LOST 20 YEARS OF HER ENTREPRENEURIAL EVOLUTION”

Chief Executive Officer of BEIGE Capital, delivered the address below at the Ghana Economic Forum 2015 on “Ghanaian-owned economy; setting the agenda for achieving it”.

 

The theme for this year’s event: Ghanaian-Owned Economy – setting the agenda for achieving it – is so on point to me. How nice a theme, ladies and gentlemen.  What this means to me in terms of numbers is an economy where at least 40% of GDP is derived from the economic activities of businesses of Ghanaian ownership…not origin. OWNERSHIP. So I checked up the profile of the top 25 companies in Ghana in terms of contribution to GDP. Data obtained from the GRA revealed that 7 out of the top 25 were of Ghanaian ownership. GCB leads the pack, followed by Ghana Manganese and some others including Banks. They are then followed closely by Nigeria with 4 and South Africa with 3. The US, Britain, France, America, etc. had two each and the rest split amongst some non-African countries. But you and I know that this is based on data that has been disclosed and I can bet that if we really have to dig behind the numbers, the concentration is not likely to be in favour of Ghana.

However, in the context of this forum, I believe that this data is an acceptable reference point for a discussion. But HEY! Is it NEWS TO YOU that our economy is not owned by us? Without a doubt, all of you here are more experienced and know better than I do so I’m not sure I’m qualified enough to explain why the situation is so and neither am I capable enough to propose solutions to it. For that reason, I request that you kindly should not expect too much from me but rather indulge me as I choose to share my thoughts on the case as a growing young man.

First, I’d share my historical thoughts on how entrepreneurship has evolved over the years in Ghana, I’d touch on why I believe in Ghana, I’d give my opinion on PPP and most of all I’d share a secret with you……it’s about me and the President. You know, I’m one of his biggest fans! Almost 60 years on, following independence and one has the right to say entrepreneurship in Ghana has evolved. I can speak of 6 entrepreneurial generations, at the least based on my limited experience.

Generation A; These are pioneers of the trade most of whom have passed on or are aged above 80 today. You can speak of the legendary Asoma Banda and the late Dr. Esther Ocloo. Then Generation B; Most of them in their 70s now…I’d respectfully refer to Mr. Kwabena Darko. Generation C; are in their 60s AND still very active in the game. They include my seniors including Mr. Kofi Amoabeng, Mr. Kwabena Duffour and Dr. Kwabena Agyei of Kasapreko. Then Generation D; men and women in their 50s…and they include my seniors, Edward Effah and Ken Ofori Atta. Generation E; are in their 40s…have gathered some momentum and started doing things. They are too many and I can’t single anyone out for now. Then my group….Generation F; …under 40 and now trying to figure out what to do with ourselves. Permit me to add a last group; Generation G;… I call them the ‘twitter generation’…they are under 30 years… watch that ‘G’ space.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve with intention drawn clear lines amongst these different generations of entrepreneurs because each have affected and are affecting Ghana positively and in varying ways. I personally believe that each generation depends on and therefore stands upon the shoulders of their predecessors to do their thing. Thus, all things being equal, the heights that any of them attained or can attain would be influenced not only by their skills and prevailing opportunities at the time but also the foundations that were handed over to them by their predecessors.

When we look around us today, it’s difficult to count 20 institutions that are aged over 30years and are of Ghanaian ownership. Why is this so? When you look around you see products of the generation Cs… and Ds…mostly. Does it suggest that generations A’s and B’s…didn’t produce anything?…NO. I strongly disagree. They did, but you know what…they did not have the opportunity to fulfil their full potential and thus were unable to pass on the skill and infection to the generation after them, due to the political upheaval in the 70’s and 80’s. I guess only Asoma Banda, Appiah Menkah & probably a handful survived. Today where are their institutions….Ladies and Gentlemen?

So you see, the generation C’s & D’s had to literally rebuild the foundation that they should have inherited. That is lost time!  Trust me, it takes not less than 10years to build the foundation of a solid business. If you would agree with me on this position then, simply said, by not allowing generations A & B to fulfill their full potential, we have lost for life, at least 20years of our entrepreneurship evolution. So we are doing today what we should have done at least 10 years ago. We dey back”. That is one of the reasons why there’s a big gap between the size of our businesses and that of our Nigerian colleagues. Thankfully, however, our generations C & D  have lived through and chalked feats that have put us back on track at least to prevent a further widening of the gap. We appreciate them.

This gives me hope that the idea of a Ghanaian owned economy is possible, if we create the room for our entrepreneurs to flourish. Believe me, we can and if you think it’s not possible, watch out for the twitter generation. They are CRAZY. So the reality today is that, we have entrepreneurs budding with a lot of energy but are we using them or creating room for them to flourish? Or we are stifling their growth using bureaucracies and political barriers.

Can you believe that in some cases the public service is in competition with the private sector? Yes. The Public sector that should facilitate access to resources is competing with the private sector instead of facilitating the so called engine of growth. Instead of complaining, I’m happy to say that in spite of all this I still have so much faith in Ghana. AND this is for a simple reason. We are so GREEN and the country is awash with opportunities.

The World Bank recently released an interesting report on the trend of urbanization in Ghana. Ghana’s urban population as at today is 14.6m and this is expected to hit almost 20m in 2025. Now listen to the juicy part. Do you know that the size of Accra in 1990 was 227sq km? This more than doubled to 563sq km in 2002 and as at 2012, the land mass was almost 1,200sq km. This means in a space of 20years the size of Accra has increased by more than 5 times. This is staggering and judging by the pace of real estate development, this figure would surely double 10 years from today. This means one thing. BUSINESS opportunities…. Accommodation, food, transportation, relaxation, recreation, energy, lifestyle, and a lot more. Ladies and gentlemen, ‘Jobs Dey!’

As a nation how are we going to harness these opportunities for the benefit of nationals and country? Public sector and policy makers…stay in your lane and let’s not stifle private sector. Rather, Public sector;   invigorate us to deliver so you get the praise for it because we cannot challenge you….you’ve got the power. Too many of us are hungry to work. Don’t waste this energy burning in us. I think the government should also consider building MONSTER corporations of Ghanaian ownership INTENTIONALLY. If we have to own our economy then we need to forcefully create big corporations in a short space of time. It’s been done elsewhere so why not in Ghana. UBA was built. Ecobank was built and so was Dangote. They were created. It can be done, so easily and of course through PPP, but not just talk, talk, PPP but PPP backed by action.

At this point, kindly permit me to share with you my most practical example of an effective PPP. I’m sure most of you have been to Dubai and in so doing used the Emirates Airline. And once you’ve been to Dubai you would know about the BURJ KHALIFA…the tallest building in the world. The inflight entertainment programs on emirates include a collection of audio interviews granted by various personalities including One Mohammed Ali Alabbar. He is the Chairman of EMAAR Properties, the firm that built the Burj Khalifa…In the interview Mohammed recounts the events that inspired their decision to build that structure. He recounted that the first concept they came up with was a fantastic project with a lot of facilities.

They then sought the audience of the Sheikh of Dubai to present the project to him. After they had finished with their presentation, the sheikh asked him Mohammed one question. “What’s the height of the tallest building in the world?”  The tallest building in the world at the time was about 86floors. When the chairman responded to the question, the Sheikh simply walked out of the room. I mean he walked out on them. This action baffled the Chairman so he wondered why the Sheikh would just ignore them like that. Then upon reflections he got it. He realized that the Sheikh was not impressed. So he and the architects had to go back to the drawing board to rethink the project. Lo and behold they came up with a masterpiece which outclassed the then tallest building in the world.

They sought the attention of the Sheikh again to present their concept to him. This time he sat glued to his seat and after the presentation he asked only one question. “When is the crane going on site”? Today the Burj Khalifa towers arrogantly in the sky, boasts of 7,000 visitors a day …the rest is history. For me, that feat is the result of a PPP relationship.  Beat it if you can.

I envisage a new dawn of PPP. A partnership between an AMBITIOUS AND COMMITTED Government on one side and a CAPABLE PRIVATE Sector on another side. By walking out on Mohammed, the Sheikh proved to him that he didn’t have time for small stuff – he wanted big ideas – that’s what I call AMBITION. By asking “when is the crane going on site?” I see a commitment to see that the project actually happens, I call that EXECUTION and ACTION. All this Ghana Economic Forum, Akosombo declaration, Senchi Creed, etc would be an academic exercise if we would keep them on the bookshelves and not back them with action. There’s a lot of action documents already, I believe that what we need are EXECUTORS, DOERS, and DEVELPOMENT ARCHITECTS, who don’t fear who or what!!

And it can only be achieved by only ONE crazy leader who is; AMBITIOUS, AUTHORITATIVE and a DOER. Our PPP could best be described as the case of a willing government on one side, a civil sector that cannot be bothered on another side and a hurriedly formed inexperienced private sector institution on the other side. Word has it that sometimes some of our government institutions whether intentionally or not, just stifle the initiatives of government. What stops us from being united in a manner for progress and nation building?

Finally I’m sure you’ve been waiting to hear why I’m a fan of the President. Ok I’d tell you. The last time I checked, my president is a nice guy by all standards but I think we need to help him bite. In my opinion, nice alone may not be good enough for the kind of results Ghana needs. Thanks to the foundations laid by my fore-bearers.  Today it is my responsibility to handover to the next generation, a foundation fit for them to compete on the world stage of entrepreneurs. As a citizen of the land I have no other identity but my Ghanaian ID and I believe the same applies to most of you. As a student of entrepreneurship, Ghana is where I have my competitive strengths and I believe this applies again to some of you. Also, I realise every day that time indeed is short and waits for no man… again I believe this applies to all of you

Above all of these, I’m committed to Ghana to the core, regardless of who is in control and I’d give the nation my best….As for this one, I would not know if it applies to you or not. As we prepare to dive deep into the issues, I pray that those who matter – just for God and country – would give a thought to the need for execution.

I wish you a successful event.

 

 

SOURCE:Business & Financial Times,17th-18th June, 2015 page 17.

 

 

 

‘Jobs dey, but boys no dey’- CEO, BEIGE Capital.

This piece was delivered by Mike Nyinaku, CEO of BEIGE Capital at a two-day International Summit on Leadership Enrichment organized by Translead Consult (TC) and Eric Kwapong Ministries (EKM), in Accra on the 14th of May, 2015. On the day Mr. Nyinaku “Thriving Global Leadership in an uncertain terrain”

 

 

Mike Nyinaku speaking

Mr. Chairman, my seniors in life, leadership and business, distinguished ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for having me on this platform. I am to speak on the theme “Thriving Business Leadership in an uncertain terrain”. Unfortunately, for the organizers, I would like to say that I disagree with this theme. So I’d have to speak from my heart and just speak my mind.

I believe that times today are more certain than they used to be in the past. Yes, and my reason is simple. I have come to observe so much in my short life that I’ve come to believe that things are possible. I recall sometime in 1990 when I was a young boy in Presec (Presbyterian Boys Secondary School, Legon), I used to go to my mother who then worked with Bank for Housing and Construction in Accra. I remember that anytime I went to see her, I went past the Ecobank Office. Ecobank had just started in Ghana. Today Ecobank is all over Africa.  That was 25 years ago. I also remember so well, the story of UT Financial Services and Fidelity Bank. Sometime in 1999, when I worked with Deloitte and Touche, as an Audit Trainee, we used to audit Fidelity Discount House. At that time, they occupied the first floor of a building on the Ring Road and anytime I went there I would see Mr. Edward Effah. His office was somehow positioned in the middle of the office and there were all of these glass windows that gave him a round-house view of the office. Oh gosh! I so wanted to be like that man. I remember it so vividly. I can also talk about the story of the church that started at the Baiden Powel Memorial Hall and then the one that started somewhere at Korle Gonno. My reference here is International Central Gospel Church (ICGC) and Lighthouse Chapel International.

Look at what institutions they have turned into, today. When I juxtapose what these people have turned their institutions into, as compared to what they were before, I’m tempted to believe that anything is possible. Yes. Anything is possible beyond reasonable doubt, as long as certain conditions are right.

So if these persons that led these institutions have succeeded in transforming them this far, especially at that time when we had all these political uncertainties, then they must have had or done something right. That thing which I seek to find is what drives my curiosity. Because today, I consider our business environment as much friendlier and accommodating than what it used before – at least there’s stability in governance. Because if it wasn’t, people like me would not have had the guts to express ourselves and skills like we are doing today. So something is right. Those times for me are rather the periods of uncertainty, not these times.

My intention is to speak to that entrepreneur in you. That Individual in you. So take your mind off all the challenges that we’re going through today and look up. It’s obvious and I must admit that things appear a bit slow. Yes, there’s dumsor and all of that and I believe that it’s difficult in times like this, to express faith. Especially to say things will be well. Because ‘dumsor’ is annoying. But on a lighter note, ‘dumsor’ may be uncomfortable to us. But have we asked ourselves what it is like for the people that are involved in selling generators and those that are selling fuel and those that are selling re-chargeable lamps? Their turnovers are skyrocketing. Because we’re buying.

Let me share some facts with you. There is a company called Rand Marchant Bank (RMB), one of the biggest banks in South Africa. There’s also another company called Prudential Life Insurance; they are also one of the biggest insurance companies in the UK and have representation in several countries in the world. And then there is Aspen; a large Pharmaceutical Services Provider in South Africa. I am talking about all of these companies because they have something in common. . . They have come to Ghana! Yes. Aspen has just bought a majority stake in KAMA Group. Prudential Life bought into Express Life. Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) has just received their license to operate a bank in Ghana. The question is, why have they have left their multi-billion economies and set foot here as well.

There is something here. What it is, I don’t know. Bear in mind, these firms have well-established R&D Departments, which do all the market survey work before they take any investment decision, so they wouldn’t just decide to invest in Ghana. Who says they did not predict our power challenges….yet it did not deter them. Dont forget that this whole challenge with power itself represents an opportunity for companies engaged in the production and distribution of energy…tell me, is it not a strange initiative that soon after President Obama launched his Power Africa Initiative in 2013, suddenly the issue of energy challenges in Africa is gaining attention and somehow companies like GE & co and interested in partnering African countries in solving the situation. What do you think…? So what is it that attracts them to our country?  I can say with authority that they are here because they want to be a part of the future of this country. They are not interested of being part of this country’s present. No at all! They have come and taken seed, because they want to be a part of this future. They are taking position. But the question is; what position are you and I taking? Are we positioning ourselves to be part of Ghana’s future?

Back in school they taught us something very simple, about investing in the Stock Exchange. What they said was; the best time to invest in the Stock Exchange, is when times are down. That is, when prices are tumbling down. So I see today as the time for us to take positions for the future. For you who is an employee, now is the time for you to show that quality that you’re made of because certainly, things will turn around and when they do the opportunities would be made available to them that labored in the time that mattered most.

Back in the day, I used to have a boss who would say; “in every misfortune lies a seed of an equivalent benefit or fortune”. Don’t get me wrong. Things may be down, but these times will end one day. And when it ends, where will you and I be? History has so many accounts of countries that have gone through depression and have turned themselves around. You can talk about South Africa, Rwanda and just recently Cote d’Ivore. Cote d’Ivoire is rapidly changing. Something will happen and I wish that we become the engineers of that thing that must happen.  So as we go through the challenges as a country, I am busily sniffing and snooping around to identify what opportunities are hidden in the maze. It may be dark, but it means opportunity has been camouflaged somewhere so we should be looking for it.

What Ghana needs today, among other things, are revolutionary entrepreneurs and crazy leaders. Crazy leaders, who without fear, are willing to take those bold decisions that could make them unpopular knowing that they have taken a decision in the interest of our country. Revolutionary entrepreneurs, who will dare to raise the bar and start doing crazy things.

And at this time, I would like to throw a hand of salute to the respected leaders of our country. I will do this again and again, because I believe that during the times of Mr. Kludjeson and co., things were tough so if they’ve been able to survive till today, they have given me the mantle to start running. I salute them! I call them our liberators, for they were able to challenge the status quo to give us the opportunity to start daring. What my generation has to do then, is to explode. Because we have a foundation, at least.

Leadership Enrichment

We must explode and if you don’t understand that, let me give you some reasons why. In Nigeria there is a project happening. That project is called the Atlantic Eco-City. They are reclaiming land from the Sea and building a City on it. Nigeria is 45 minutes away by air and they are doing what we go to see in Dubai. Dubai is hoping to have the world’s busiest airport, 5 years from today. Last year they were number 6 with about 70million passengers and they claim, after they hit 120million passengers, they want to double it. They tell you about Ecobank, the Pan African Bank but its origin is from Lome and UBA has its origin from Nigeria. What is for Ghana? What is that multinational institution that we are building or have built whose origins can be traced to Ghana? 20 years from today, our children would look at us and say… “oh daddy, so what were you doing?”

Earlier in the week I saw an advert on CNN about Petronia City and I shed a tear. All the time have been asking myself. We are always seeing Banks and even Furniture retail outlets from Nigeria and other countries go as far as CNN. Not a single Ghanaian Enterprise was advertising on CNN. So when I saw Petronia on CNN, I said, finally! I don’t know the people behind it, but I support them with everything inside of me. Because once they’ve put us there. They may have probably open the door for others to follow. Because the world is not going to wait for us. We are going to sit here and say ‘dumsor’ and times are hard and all that, but elsewhere, people are moving. We must help to put the flag out there.

And even the Bible says in Matthew 12:13, “for whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath”. If these reasons don’t give you the KICK enough for you to want to explode then I’m sorry oo…your case is different.What you need to know is that, things are going to evolve much faster in the next 10 years in Ghana that they ever have in the last 20 years put together and if we don’t act fast, we’re likely to lose what is left of our land to foreigners.

I’m sure you will agree with me that the only way to complement what the respected leaders of our time have done, is to raise the bar. Good or bad, we will have to think of how we can produce a Dangote from here and an Adenuga as well from Ghana. It is possible, but you need to start from somewhere and with focus you’re likely to get there.

And to support these crazy entrepreneurs, we also have to cultivate a group of quality and productive staff. Sometimes you are made to think that, you just have to be an owner to be successful. But I believe that you can make it successfully, while a part of a thriving and successful business.

From personal experience, I spend about 60% of my time cutting expenditure on Vouchers. I have so many entrepreneurs that would share the same stories. Have you wondered why some businessmen would stay with their business until retirement? Trust! Sometimes it’s so difficult to trust that the persons to which we have entrusted things, will do it and do it right as though the business were theirs. A lot of business are unable to make it to their full potential because a lot of quality time is spent in doing the mundane.

Permit me to share scripture with you again before I close. This time I read from Mathew 9: 35-37. “ And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few”.

In a message once preached my Dr. Mensa Otabil, he gave a vivid explanation of the phrase “the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. In that account, he gave a story of a farmer who goes to plant on his land that has already been tilled. Ordinarily, when it’s time for harvesting, the same number of people that you required at the time of planting would not suffice to handle the harvesting process. So you’d need more. Often times, because we don’t have people that have prepared themselves for the opportunity, we’re not able to enjoy fully of what the full harvest has in stock.

I relate to this theme but from a different perspective. I see a great deal of opportunities in Ghana, in spite of our challenges. Our country also has entrepreneurs with capacity to move and make things happen. But like Shepherds, we also need willing, prepared and dedicated people to help us attain our goals. If you ask me, I can say with confidence that “Jobs dey, but boys no dey”. Truly, “the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few”. Again I’d say “Jobs dey, but boys no dey”

 

 

SOURCE: Daily Graphic,Friday May 29, 2015 page 27.

Business & Financial Times, 27th-28th May, 2015. page 17.

 

Remaining as SMEs would only give sustenance: BEIGE CEO

This piece was delivered by Mike Nyinaku, CEO of The BEIGE Capital at the ACCA Eastern Africa Convention held in Kampala, Uganda on the 26th of November, 2014. On the night, an appreciation was given Mike for his contribution to the ACCA in Ghana & Africa at large.

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen, invited guests  and fellow ACCA members. I bring you greetings from Ghana and I’d like also to express my thanks to you for having me on this platform. My task is simple, tell story and then talk about SMEs. The second part is the easier option as it’s been done many times before by better renowned speakers than myself. And come to think of it, Africa & African Countries for that matter are BIG SMEs in the committee of nations….. really if we want to know the role SMEs are playing in our economies, shouldn’t we just look around us?

Africa and African Countries are big SMEs in the committee of nations. If we really want to know the role SMEs are playing in our economies, we should look around us. To provide a practical evidence of the role of SMEs in our
daily lives, I thought of sharing this story. One of my staff in the Bank owns a bakery. A staff of my staff (who owns the bakery) runs a small laundry business. One of the washmen of that staff’s staff, also provides private laundry services outside the laundry where he works. The wife of this washman, also operates a table-top grocery shop in front of their home. And the niece of this wife, is a janitor at one of my establishments – a Logistics Company. This Janitor besides her work routine, sells airtime for Vodafone. Incidentally, staff of the logistics company, on a daily basis, buy airtime from her. It’s quite a long and possibly complex chain of relationships but what I’m trying to establish is that this chain of economic activity has only become possible because I employed one staff at the Bank. And this source, through their earnings, has bankrolled a chain of economic activities directly and indirectly.

“Most SMEs originate from the country of operation; therefore their wealth
-if any – stays in that country. This is a fact.” If we can appreciate the value that my staff has played in this chain of economic activity, then we cannot over- emphasize the role that the millions of small businesses scattered over Africa are playing in the economy of our continent.

In Ghana, it’s reported that 90% of the companies formally registered are SMEs. This statistic is similar around Africa. Again, another statistic in Ghana is that, over 80% of the economically active population is employed in
the private sector. By simple extension you can safely deduce that about 80% of my country’s economically active are employed with SMEs. Now, that is interesting because it means these small companies are really, and in truth, the driving force behind the GDPs of African countries. Before assessing the extent of impact SMEs would have on the economies, one fact really inspires a lot in me; that is, Most SMEs originate from the country of operation; therefore their wealth -if any – stays in that country. This is a fact.

So you would agree that SMEs, without a doubt, make an impact on our local economies. But the question we don’t often ask is; what is the value and level of influence of that impact?

I may be employing 3,000 people, but if my turn over is 2% of MTN’s turn over, I cannot influence decision making in Ghana and the same would go for any SME in any country. So my selfish thinking is that, the talk about SMEs
being significant to economic growth would only mean something to me if I see opportunities for SMEs to grow into multinational companies and for that matter “Monster” Corporations. Remaining as SMEs would only give us
sustenance but monster corporations would guarantee us step increases in growth. “I’m a firm believer in the concept “small is cute” but hey, in today’s world “cute is no longer secure enough”.big is the way to go.”

And here is the part that I believe, as professionals, we have to play in this. More than 63,000 of ACCA’s 170,000 global membership work in or for small businesses around the world. To these businesses, that provide us with
employment, we deliver professional services in the area of business management, financial planning and reporting. Beyond this responsibility, however lies (particularly for us in Africa) a patriotic responsibility of seeing to it that the businesses we work for, GROW.

Coca Cola, Tata and Ali Baba were once SMEs and the people who engineered those remarkable corporate transformation included professionals like me and you. WE MUST BE AN ALL ROUND RESOURCE TO THE BUSINESS. If we aim to be RELEVANT in the LIVES of the businesses that employ us, then the first step to attaining this is to check ourselves: How knowledgeable we are; How well-informed we are and how creative and open-minded we are, to understand the rigors of business, in order that we are adaptable to situations and also assist our businesses navigate the challenges of everyday. Earlier this year at a graduation ceremony for newly qualified ACCA affiliates, I spoke about the essence of being a complete finance professional.

WE ALSO MUST ACCEPT THAT ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS NOT PROCEDURAL. The reality is that, not all Professional Accountants can be entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is not a science, but an ART. Much as we work with conventions and principles, entrepreneurs are inspired by ideas,
possibilities and their guts. I consider myself a perfect example of this following my transition into entrepreneurship after having trained and experienced the regimental life of an auditor with Deloitte & Touche. Back then, my whole sphere of thought bordered on principles, procedures and processes. Today, I’m inspired by my thoughts and ideas and hardly limited to what is believed to be convention. “Coca Cola, Tata and Ali Baba were once SMEs and the people who engineered those remarkable corporate transformation were professionals like me and you.”

The Entrepreneurs and business owners we work with, want to get there by whatever means and as henchmen to them, it is our responsibility to assist and creatively guide them to achieve their aspirations to the best extent
practicable. This should be done in a way that would not compromise professional judgment and standards, and at the same time, not stifle creativity and out of the box thinking It should be our aim to grow our businesses to higher heights. I’m a firm believer in the concept “small is cute” but hey, in today’s world “cute is no longer secure enough”, big is the way to go.

Africa has seen a continuous rise in the quantum of Foreign Direct investments into the continent. But do you also know that most of these investors complain that that they have difficulty in finding local partners with capacity suitable enough to partner them? Yes it is so, because we are small and seem happy in our comfort zone. Thus, foreign investors come in, do their own thing and repatriate their returns.

And you think small is good? No. Small is good only for starters; but big is better for the long term. When a business is big you have a reasonable assurance that with prudent management it can last for generations and the country and continents would benefit for generations. It has happened elsewhere in the stories of Dangote, GLO, UBA, Ecobank and many others. As Finance Professionals, we must push ourselves to learn how these corporations transformed their fortunes and in similar fashion do same for our local businesses.

WE SHOULD INFLUENCE EVENTS THAT IMPACT THE SUCCESS OF SMEs. And there are a lot of things we can influence. An example is Taxation. Excessive tax burdens and complicated compliance procedures can stifle the SME sector and prevent it from generating employment and wealth or, in more extreme cases, discourage participation in the formal economy. It is crucial for governments to work towards creating simple and transparent tax systems that encourage compliance in a way that allows small firms to contribute toward tax revenues.

Tax policy should always aim for simplicity because that makes it easier for small firms to pay taxes. If tax administrators are able to recognize the variety within the SME sector when devising tax policy, they can successfully enable small businesses become tax compliant with little strain-and who is best placed to tell them. ME AND YOU.

Another area where policy impacts significantly on SMEs is Business regulation. As with tax compliance, business regulation generally has a disproportionate impact on smaller enterprises compared with larger ones, and ACCA periodically calls on governments and policy-makers to ‘think small first’ just so to ensure that regulations are simple for small businesses to understand and do not impose onerous burden on their survival. I’m sure this is not too much to ask, since SMEs account for half of the world’s private sector output and employ two thirds of the global private sector work-force. Research has shown that countries with burdensome regulation have larger informal sectors, higher unemployment rates and slower economic growth, so it might be sensible to explore ways of removing any unnecessary barriers to business success.

A third area where I believe we can influence policy is internationalization of businesses. Most of these huge multinationals corporations did not just happen. They were created. Yes. Toyota, Hyundai, Samsung, GE, were created. They began as SMEs and then were propped by their home Governments with the intention of enabling them compete at international levels. That was an intentional move and one done with a long term view in mind.

I can confirm that ACCA, as a champion of SMEs and international business activity, is keen to encouraging debate on how the barriers facing SMEs in international trade can be overcome. At present, SMEs with ambition to internationalize face numerous barriers including – cultural differences, difficulties gaining market information, challenges in identifying international business partners, problems accessing finance, overseas and local “red tapes” and many more. Again, these challenges present opportunities for us, as professionals to show our SMEs what we’ve
got.

Lately, I’ve been drawn to this movie which I’ve seen a couple of times over. It’s titled “The men who built America” and tries to give an account of how America was transformed from early 18th century. The focus of the movie is on the role played by some key entrepreneurs, whose activities formed the bedrock upon which the country’s economy generally revolved.

The story of JP Morgan, General Electric, Dangote & GLO reveal one thing and I hope I’m able to infect you with that. Small may be cute for now but big is better if you have tomorrow in mind.

My thanks to you.

 

SOURCE: Daily Graphic, Monday, December 8, 2014. page 27.

“Be a Complete Finance Professional”

This article, by Mike Nyinaku, was published in the 29th September 2014’s edition of the Business & Financial Times as well as the  30th September 2014’s edition of the Daily Graphic as his contribution to the Finance profession.

 

 

The standard dictionary definition says: “accountant (noun) – a person whose job is to keep or inspect financial accounts.” But ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) says the definition is so much wider, simply because the accountancy profession has evolved, partly due to the global economic crisis of 2007 / 08.

Of course an accountant needs to understand the numbers – that’s a given; but an accountant is also a business strategist, an expert communicator, a people manager, an advocate, and an ambassador for all things finance and business. They are also champions of sustainability, with an ethical compass that is set to doing the right thing. They deliver public value – acting in the public interest, promoting ethical business and supporting economic growth.

Accountants need to be at the forefront to make the most of opportunities and resolve issues as more businesses, SMEs and entrepreneurs turn to them for advice and guidance. In particular, business expects finance professionals to act as strategic advisers, helping organisations to create long-term, sustainable value.

With ACCA, an accountant is a complete finance professional, who identifies risks, and who advises on the right course to take. Year on year, ACCA updates and enhances its world-class Qualification, examining competency in 10 key areas. These annual changes ensure ACCA students are even more valuable to employers as complete finance professionals, with skills relevant to all sectors. Updating the qualification is a global process which ensures that a member with ACCA or FCCA – Fellow of ACCA – after their name have the skills, knowledge and competencies relevant to their careers. These updates are conducted with a thoroughness that takes in research and insights looking into future developments in the accountancy profession, consultations with employers, regulators and learning experts and skills analysis to ensure we fully understand the changing environment. We also lead the way in examining new global standards and regulation.

 

Rising to the challenge

These changes position ACCA members well to thrive in the emerging business context, to enhance their prospects as professionals and managers, and bring success in their careers.

Professionalism and ethics lies at the heart of the ACCA Qualification. So our syllabus content is continually enhanced around governance, risk and ethics. Exam content relating to risk management such as risk identification, control and mitigation was recently updated and has been well received by students, members and employers. Governance has also been extended to include public sector governance, which is becoming increasingly importance.

Diversity is also part of the ACCA syllabus, with a greater focus on the requirement for more diversity on boards. Looking at the wider role of the accountant as promoting public value and being socially responsible, ACCA has added more around how accountants should describe and assess the environmental effects that economic activity can have in terms of environmental footprint, and other impacts.

Strategy and innovation are natural areas where an accountant adds real value. As such, papers in ACCA’s Qualification have been made relevant to the corporate sector and business leadership in terms of forecasting, budgeting, cost management and decision support, including pricing at all levels including the strategic level. The latest area to be added is about the role and limitations of cost accounting in strategy development and implementation. So, the Business Analysis exam now integrates and examines the areas of strategy and leadership, management accounting, financial analysis, IT and e-commerce and People/HR issues through practical case studies.

Financial Management has also been strengthened, with increased content on developments in Islamic Finance. Our enhanced coverage now includes developments in this form of financing in sourcing business expansion and projects, explaining the rationale for its use and identifying its benefits and deficiencies. Of course, financing a business, expansion through acquisition or other strategies and risk management remain core in the area of financial management.

Corporate reporting is an important aspect of an accountant’s role, and the landscape is changing due to shareholder and stakeholder needs. Greater coverage is included of the typical contents of a social and environmental report and the usefulness of this information to stakeholders. Additionally ACCA will be the first professional body to examine Integrated Reporting <IR> in its exams this year. This is a most important strategic development of which we are rightly proud to be early adopters.

This then links to sustainable management accounting, where ACCA’s performance management exams contain key sections which support businesses in making sustainable and efficient use of resources through strategic planning, control, measurement and performance evaluation.

Audit and Assurance has come in for a lot of criticism since the financial crisis of 2007 / 08, but ACCA stands behind the need for strong independent audits, and the value they ring for investors, stakeholders and the business itself. The ACCA Qualification places more emphasis on professional skepticism, which has been added to the relevant papers to reflect the new IESBA (International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants) code of ethics for professional accountants.

Importantly, the ACCA Qualification takes a practical case study approach. Using case studies means that a student can apply their skill and knowledge to a real life  scenario. This case study approach was further developed in June 2013, such that all seven of the ACCA Qualification Professional Level exams use case studies in their assessments – worth at least 50 marks, with some having 60 marks of case study questions.

This provides in-depth practical scenarios for students to work on for these exams, all of which are examined at Master’s degree level, as ratified by educational frameworks. This means that students have to demonstrate skills which are highly sought after by employers, and relevant for advisory and consultancy roles, such as the ability to assimilate and evaluate data; develop and use ideas; analyse and make decisions in complex and unstructured situations; solve problems and make recommendations and communicate findings to clients, experts and other stakeholders.

As a professional body, we believe that studying to be an accountant means gaining a detailed understanding of what being a finance professional means. We do this in a way that ensures there are no half measures or shortcuts – the only way to qualify is to do it the complete way to become a complete finance professional.

 

 

 

BUILDING AFRI-QUITY – Equity Owned By Africans

This piece was delivered by Mike Nyinaku, CEO of The BEIGE Group at the African Business Leadership Awards held in Houston, Texas on the 5th of May, 2014. On the night, Mike received two awards; Africa’s Emerging Business Icon – from the African Leadership Magazine and a commendation award for leadership – from the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus – May 2014

 

 

2 1

Ladies and gentlemen, invited guests, African Leader Magazine, thanks for having me on this platform. You know, in the last two days I have probably seen more Nigerians than I have ever encountered at one place outside Africa. Both on the flight, in my hotel and all around downtown Houston you cannot help but notice the number of ‘Naija’ folks around. Then I got to know the OTC Conference was happening in town, I get here for this event also and they are well represented here also…..

In my country Ghana, we like to refer to ourselves as the Gateway to Africa, a position I jealously would like us to maintain. But our brothers from Nigeria always give us a good run for our money in this regard. So much so that, depending on whom I am speaking to sometimes I am tempted to say I am Nigerian – especially if the person is Non- African. But amongst us Africans, I am proudly Ghanaian. Having said that, I cannot help but notice with admiration, the amazing strides that our folks from Nigeria have achieved both for country and continent. You are truly leading the way.

The speakers both referred to the concept and reality of Africa rising, and whilst I agree with them I would also like to share my thoughts relating to the same subject.

About 2 weeks ago in Johannesburg I was privileged to be part of a panel that spoke on growth opportunities in Africa. This was an event organized by the ACCA.

On that occasion, we were almost unanimous in the assertion that Africa remains the new and emerging frontier in spite of the many perceived risks inherent in doing business on the continent. As an entrepreneur and also a follower of global business, I cannot help but take notice of the incursions being conceived and in most instances made by foreign multinational firms into Africa.

Europe is pushing to sign an EPA with ECOWAS. And above all, President Obama last year launched the Power Africa Initiative meant to drive the production of energy across selected countries in Africa. I am happy Ghana is part of the six countries to benefit from that project.Ford, Toyota and VW either have established or are in the process of establishing productions plants in parts of Africa. Lately Google and Facebook are in a contest on who would be the first to capture the growing need and market for internet access in Africa.

Isn’t it obvious why all of these events are happening? There is some cake to be eaten in Africa and everybody wants a piece of it.Having continuously exceeded the global average GDP growth rates in the West particularly for about 10 years consistently, Africa has not only caught the attention of investors but earned it so deservedly;

  • Of the world’s population, we constitute the most youthful.
  • Further to that, we have the fastest growing middle class population in the world.
  • Average return in investments in Africa is almost more than double as compared to the rest of the world.
  • The needs of the continent in terms of infrastructure, social and general goods and services are boundless.
  • The quantity of resources both tapped and yet to be are enormous.

The infrastructural funding needs of the continent far exceed $30bn annually; that is a big market for international finance institutions that are looking for projects towards which to lend their cash holdings.So as you can see, everything is playing to our advantage; current and future demand, labour and land except capital

But the QUESTION of reality is …WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME? And I mean you the business person. WHAT PART OF THIS CAKE IS FOR YOU? HOW MUCH OF THE OPPORTUNITIES IN AFRICA ARE SEIZED AND DOMINATED BY AFRICANS? At the event in Jo-burg, I expressed the concern that as a business person, if I am not able to experience these benefits directly in what I do, then the whole idea of “Africa Rising” would remain a mirage. As origins of our land we should be well positioned to equitably benefit from the largesse identified on our land….but it doesn’t happen just that easily.

I learnt as a student of economics, that the factors of production are land, labor, entrepreneurship and capital. What they did not teach me at the time was which amongst these factors was the most important. Thankfully, I have succeeded in discovering this through my stint with entrepreneurship.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s not enough to have land or labor. As for ideas, forget it. CAPITAL is the thing. Capital is what drives the world and as a matter of fact can buy the other 3 factors. Some say money talks and the rest walk….

Unfortunately as Africans, we find ourselves in a position of deficiency with this important factor of economics. Thus, we are literally at the mercy of those that can provide that capital.The lack of capital over the years has led to amongst other things;

  • Mortgaging our natural resources and other assets at close to ridiculous rates to the providers of capital.
  • An over-dependence on foreign aid and a continuous decline in our bargaining capacity at the WTO level.
  • Most of our entrepreneurs and their businesses are not able to grow beyond the level of basic subsistence. Due to the size of their operations, most of our businesses cannot match their competitors at the multinational levels.

This is the reality and we must accept and co-operate with it for now. In doing so however, we must begin to consider how long we can afford to stay here. We need to have a plan of how we intend to get out of this position in the most realistic possible time.

We can only get out of this condition when we have our own equity or sufficient capital for that matter. But admittedly, though equity building is a time taking process it’s not an IMPOSSIBLE venture. Some of the most successful multi-nationals and Newly industrialized Countries at one time had to attract private equity borrowed from other lenders as a means through which they built their own capital. Examples abound of nations like the Asian Tigers – Taiwan, Korea and the rest – who have succeeded in turning their economies around using debt and a combination of intentional domestic trade and fiscal policies

Depending on the nature of business you are involved in and the level of impact you desire to make, the process of building sufficient capital would require a blend of private and national resources on one side, combined with effective and progressive policy on the other side

Typically in the case of a private entity like The BEIGE Group, we are resorting to securing private equity to augment our capital base in order for us to meet our growth objectives for the next 5 years. I am yet to find an example of a multinational company in Europe, America or Asia that grew to its present status without some form of state support through grants or policy.

Governments that have any intention to improve the state of their economies and drive national productivity to globally competitive levels should consider partnering and investing significantly in joint ventures with responsible private sector institutions and also supporting these initiatives with policy.

Nigeria has once again led the way with the passing into law of their local content bill in relation to their oil sector. This new legislation has not only allowed indigenous Nigerians – with the proven capacity – to now own oil assets but also created a level playing field for nationals to build capacity in areas hitherto held as a reserve for foreign companies.

The case of SEPLAT PLC and ENERGIA Ltd, both wholly owned Nigerian Oil production firms are worth mentioning as classic examples of local equity.

Until we are able to contribute meaningfully and significantly to the economic development process currently taking place on the continent, we will not realize equitable benefits from the fruits that lie on our continent. At best, we would provide a platform for foreigners to dine whilst we clear the tables.

Thankfully there is an infectious wave of new Africans emerging who are budding with talent and drive. I draw inspiration also from the successes of senior business leaders like Ali Dangote, Tony Elumelo, Alaji Asuma Banda, Kofi Amoabeng and others whose initiatives have paved the way and given rise to a special kind of entrepreneurship that sees beyond generations.

My generation must embrace this and raise the bar in our time. As the Good Book says in Proverbs 13.22 –“A good father leaveth an inheritance for his children’s’ children…..”

Presumably as good business leaders, I entreat us all to start building what I call AFRI-QUITY now – I mean let’s build our own equity so the generation after us would have a more valuable stake in the opportunities of our land.

 

 

My thanks to you.

 

 

“Development is Intentional”

This piece was delivered by Mike Nyinaku, CEO of BEIGE Capital, at the 8th Vodafone Africa’s Business Leaders Forum in Accra; on the theme, “Setting the Next Agenda” – July 2013

 

 

Honorable representatives from the government, my senior business colleagues, corporate executives and business owners of my generation, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

I am honored to be addressing you on this important occasion. I would also like to extend my thanks to Vodafone for selecting me to speak on this important subject. The theme for today’s conference could not have come at a timelier occasion than today, especially considering the state of Ghana and Africa at Large. I trust that the thoughts we’d share today and after this program would find relevance in the strategic business plans that we all have in our institutions.

Thirteen years ago, the economist magazine labeled Ghana and Africa for that matter as a hopeless continent. Thirteen years ago, and the economist magazine labeled Africa as a hopeless continent. I was twenty-four by then; at the time I am sure I did not understand what dynamics they had considered in making that statement but I believe they may have been right. Since then I trust that there has been a radical transformation in the future of Africa and today our continent has proven to be resilient and increasingly competitive on the global stage. Today Africa is one of the three global trading blocks and we are as important as the West, more than a third of our economies have registered annual growth exceeding six percent – far exceeding the growth rates of the Western Europe.

Our continent is gradually becoming a destination of investment and opportunity as there is evidence in the continuous political stability we are enjoying even in the face of discussing pink sheets. Above all, there is a new attitude emerging, there is a new thinking; for me it is an indication of greater hope for now and the future. Truly, Africa is where the action is and I must confess this has come to stay.

The Africa Business Magazine also recently published the list of the top two-fifty (250) companies in Africa and that was a revelation. All these companies had a total asset base of $0.84 trillion US Dollars. This figure equals the value of 15 of the top companies in Asia. Simply said our top 250 companies in Africa are matched equal by the top 15 in Asia….goodness!

Now, another thing was revealing, about sixty percent of top 250 companies came from South Africa and our neighbors Nigeria pulled about thirty plus. Four (4) came from Ghana; that was exciting, however, when you look at the ownerships of these companies, all the four that came from Ghana were not of Ghanaian origin. I congratulate our Nigerian brothers for proudly putting up a strong showing on that chart.

That notwithstanding, I strongly believe that, if this same statistics was pulled out about thirteen years ago, the picture would have been gloomier. And it’s fair to say that our senior business leaders have done well, because if you look at the circumstances prevailing at the time they operated compared to what prevails now in my time, they have certainly done well.

I dare say therefore that, the feats of our senior leaders and entrepreneurs have laid the foundation that would enable us change the landscape of our continent in our time. At this point, myself and my generation cannot help but promise to raise the bar, so we Can intend hand over to our children an Africa with conditions that would energize and inspire them to dream bigger and not only match up to the world, but live to fulfill their full potential.

Now that it is all looking good, who must profit? Mr. Amoabeng and Mr. Amoah, the Tony Elumelu’s, the Dangote’s and have done well to set the pace; Now who must profit? It certainly should be me and my generation.

Our agenda should be simple; I think, we must increase our stake in our wealth at this point because if we do not, those companies that are already worth so much more than ours would further widen the gap when they venture into Africa. This holds true especially now that the West is looking at investing more in Africa. If we don’t position ourselves well, the gap would become wider.

By the end of the next decade, the new African, must be a significant owner and beneficiary of wealth built by him, owned by him and which must be passed on to another generation. We must not just be considered as a destination for good business for some others. We must hold a significant an indispensable stake in our wealth and the management of our affairs. We should narrow the gap by gaining control over our wealth because if we don’t it could be taken away and prosperity will not forgive us when that happens.

Achieving this is pretty simple as several cases have worked for countries that have turned their fortunes around. The case of the Asian Tigers is a classic example; and South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore have a story to tell. In the 1960s, they were like Ghana, but today they are not.

These countries have turned their fortunes around. In a bit to strengthen their economies on the global scale, these countries instituted reforms that were selfish to their interest regardless of what the rest of the world thought.

They pursued these reforms with a long term commitment that has now resulted in a rapid transformation of their affairs. In 1962 for instance, South Korea, in the bid to transform its automobile industry, established what they called the Automobile Industry Movement Act, which said, any country that wanted to operate in South Korea, had to be in partnership with join-venture with a local firm. Intention was simple, technology transfer, knowledge transfer.

This they have done and have now built institutions like Kia, Hyundai and many more. Companies like Samsung and LG have become global giants due to the interventions of the state, while pursuing these policies, the Asians maintained a decent record of low corruption by severely punishing the deviants in the society.

The story of the Asians and other relevant cases has led me to a simple conclusion that “Development is intentional”. Development is intentional, yes it is and it starts with you not the IMF.

We should clearly define what we want, where we want to go and how we want to get there and as long as it will inure to our private benefits without unduly violating any trade laws. Fact is even if it does, what it means is that those trade laws were not favourable to us. We should think about us first.

What I think we should do is develop and support our local businesses to expand their capacities so they can compete favorably on the global market.

We should have politicians that have guts like some of our entrepreneurs, because the point is, if entrepreneurs have all the guts, but the people that drive those policies do not have guts, there is a mismatch. So I believe there should be a comfortable and meaningful marriage between politicians and serious entrepreneurs.

We should also encourage and support our local and credible entrepreneurs; I mean credible to move their businesses beyond the idea of family subsistence to becoming institutions of global influence which can be passed on generational legacies.

We must institute credible public private partnerships that will drive large scale economies while we ensure that the performance agreements that govern these PPPs would ensure that the parties are uncompromisingly accountable to the state.

We should demand long term partnerships where need be with willing developed countries for agreements that would result in massive technology transfer & business development in our local economies.

Above all, we should build and restore confidence in our governance and leadership by demonstrating “a no holds barred” process of discouraging corruption and general misconduct by our leaders.

I believe in scripture and I will like to take you to the book of Nehemiah chapter 2 where I’d select from a few verses.

Nehemiah was a servant in the house of the king, in Nehemiah chapter 2:-5. And I read; “Nehemiah went to the king; he had a gloomy look on his face”.- I’m selecting please – “therefore the King said to me, why is your face sad since you are not sick? and Nehemiah responded?…. “why should my face not be sad, when the city the place of my father’s tomb lies in waste and its gate lies in ruined with fire”. If it pleases you, I ask that you send me to Judah to the City of my father’s tomb that I may rebuild it.”

Now in verse 17, at the time the King had granted Nehemiah the authority to go back to Jerusalem. He gathered a few of the officials and he said to them, “you see the distress that Jerusalem is in, come let us build the walls of Jerusalem that we may no longer be in reproach” and here is the part that delights me the most.

The verse 18; Here Nehemiah is giving an account of how the people responded when he spoke to them …and he said, “I told them of the hand of God which had been upon me and also the King’s word which he had spoken to me, so they said – that is how the people responded – “Let us rise up and build; together they set their hands to this good work.”

As we get into our plenary session, I would like you to remember one thing “Development is intentional” and it can only start with us.

So my friends let us own and preserve our resources, let us increase our stakes and our wealth, let us negotiate and deal base on the value of our resources, let us not just talk, let us start doing things.

Thank you.

“Africa Needs Leaders With Guts” – Mike Nyinaku

This was delivered at the 8th Vodafone African Business Leaders Forum (ABLF) in Accra

 

 

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Mike Nyinaku, CEO of The BEIGE Capital Ghana, has said Africa needs politician and leaders with guts like entrepreneurs on the continent in order to bring about the needed change.

“We need leaders who have guts; who have a strong appetite for risk-taking, and demonstrate a no-holds-barred attitude to stemming corruption,” he said at the 8th Vodafone African Business Leaders Forum (ABLF) in Accra.

This year’s ABLF was under the theme “Setting the next agenda” and brought together business leaders from across Africa who discussed and debated key issues and challenges on the continent. It was organized by the Business and Financial Times, with Vodafone Ghana as the headline sponsor and support from Zenith Bank and the International Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Nyinaku said: “Africa needs selfish reforms that disregard what everyone else thinks in order to gain control over its resources and wealth. Africa is where the action is; we must increase our stake in our wealth.

“In the next two decades, the new African must be a significant owner and beneficiary of the continent’s wealth. We should develop and support our local businesses to expand their capacity to compete in the global economy.”

“We must not just be considered as a destination for good business for some others but must hold a significant and indispensable stake in our wealth and the management of our affairs. “We must narrow the gap by owning our wealth because if we don’t these global giants would consume and further widen the gap between us and the developed world.

“Posterity would not forgive us if we do not feature prominently on the global business stage in the next 20 years.” Using Asia as an example, he said Africa must pursue inward-looking policies or its resources will continue to be plundered.

Companies like Samsung and LG have become global giants as a result of deliberate state support, he said, calling on the political leadership to clearly define what it wants and how to get it. “Even if we violate trade laws, it means those laws are not favorable to us,” he said at the forum that was well-attended by entrepreneurs of all hues from Ghana and other African countries, as well as public sector actors.

Mr. Nyinaku paid glowing to tribute to “senior” business leaders on the continent, saying they laid a good foundation on which the new generation of business leaders must stand to “raise the bar”. “The feats of our senior leaders and entrepreneurs have laid the foundation that will enable us change the landscape of our continent — in our time.

“At this point we — and I mean my generation — cannot help but commit to raising the bar so we can in turn hand over to our children an Africa with conditions that will energise and inspire them to dream bigger; not only to match up to the world, but to live to fulfil their full potential.”

Dr. Kofi Amoah, a member of the ABLF Advisory Board, said for African entrepreneurs to move forward, an essential part of public resources must be used to support them. “I believe that the creativity of our young people cannot come to fruition if we don’t provide the necessary financial and infrastructural support to push them. I have called for the setting-up of a US$1billion fund for Ghanaian entrepreneurs,” he said. The Executive Director of the Business and Financial Times (B&FT), Mrs. Edith Dankwah, said the time has come for Africa “to take the bull by the horns” and put its resources where they are needed in order to make a meaningful impact on the world’s economy. “It is ironic that African countries are unable to trade among themselves. If we cannot conveniently engage in trade across borders, we shouldn’t expect to increase trade volumes with the rest of the world. And if we would like to see trade as a necessary vehicle to drive us into economic prosperity, we must first advocate for the breakdown of trade barriers and encourage intra-Africa trade.”

Various speakers at the forum called for a new way of doing things in Africa, whereby a strong public sector supports an ambitious private sector to create the needed jobs and growth on the continent.