Amoabeng counts the cost of UT Bank collapse

The president of the UT Group, Prince Kofi Amoabeng has observed that indigenous businesses thrive on political mentor’s whims and caprices especially, if one was prepared to accommodate their demands.

Upon hindsight, he said, he should not have allowed his time tested principles of not accommodating politicians, religious leaders and traditional leaders to have the better side of him, adding, that must have led to the collapse of his business empire.

Mr Amoabeng said his flagship investment, UT Bank lost a chunk of the empire when the Bank of Ghana (BoG) revoked the banking license of UT Bank and placed it under receivership at the time its liabilities far outweighed the assets.

However, Mr Amoabeng in a ‘no holds bar’ address at the annual business and leadership conference at the Stanford Seed Transformation Network (STN) Ghana in Accra, said the business environment was hostile such that it was difficult to operate businesses successfully without cutting corners.

The conference which was attended by business experts and entrepreneurs discussed the issue of expanding ones business under the topic: “Scaling in a difficult environment”.

Mr Amoabeng said one lesson learnt from his misfortune was the fact that, he did not leave the scene as soon as success came knocking at his door when business which started with first a handful of trusted people, became a conglomerate.

He said when he became successful and influential and the pressure started mounting from politicians, pastors and traditional leaders, “I should have taken a back-seat and handed over the business to an expatriate who nobody could approach.”

Mr Amoabeng advised businesses to take a cue from his experience and create the necessary environment and trust in order to take a back seat as soon as the business begun to attract attention with its chains of success, especially, “when the business gets to employ a staff of more than 150.”

He said corruption was so endemic in the system that, it cuts across every sphere of life, recounting the time he was told to give commission to people who might move accounts to his bank, adding that though the life blood of the bank depended on deposits he found such demands so absurd and totally out of place in a financial market.

Madam Felicia Twumasi, Chief Executive Officer of Homefoods Processing and Cannery Ltd, said it was imperative to have trusted persons around you as one expands business, since some of the staff could sabotage the business development.

She said through her own experience, there was the need to engage the right people, while keeping in check the idea of an immediate expansion without developing the good brand for the products and locating all potential markets.

Welcoming participants earlier, Constance Swaniker, president of STN Ghana said business leaders were invited to share their experiences and how they were able to scale-up despite the adversities.

BY LAWRENCE MARKWEI

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