“JOBS DEY, BUT BOYS NO DEY”
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”
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.
Don’t 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.
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”