In an attempt to help the young men in his neighborhood, Paa Kwesi Aidoo started a door to door advocacy on the harmful effect of substance abuse and recommending rehabilitation where needed. But somewhere along the line he realized that he was on a fool’s errand because something was working against his efforts.
The problem, he says, was that his rehabilitated friends had a hard time reintegrating into society and finding jobs. This, according to his research, is because 7 out of 10 small medium enterprises (SME’s), which are responsible for over 75 percent of the working population, fold up within three years of establishment due to financial ruin among other things.
His solution is Primestone Group , an asset and fund management company with a focus on making a social impact which invests in promising businesses that are struggling financially. Though there are other companies that offer similar services, Paa Kwesi says the novelty his company brings to the table is a long-term approach and a management style which ensures the growth and sustainability of the investments.
“We have a problem especially with the micro finance institutions, initially the idea was to help the small business owner with capital however in Ghana they are not built to solve the problems of SME’s with their high cost of funds, and everybody who has stayed in Africa knows that to run a business you need patient capital.”
Paa Kwesi’s company is into alternative investments or private equity; they identify businesses with potential and give them the financial push. They move in and help the company evaluate and develop structures that ensure that they make great returns and not merely stay afloat. They also have a mission to create jobs and contribute to fulfilling the UN SDGs 1 and 8.
At the moment, Primestone Group’ main targets include all the sectors that are crucial to the economy such as; healthcare, transportation and logistics, retail, consumer goods and education.
Reception has been lukewarm, especially within the business community because people haven’t fully understood the concept yet and also there are other companies that run a version of his idea and they are not comfortable with the change he has introduced. The main point being, his focus is less on profit and more on making sure businesses survive past the vulnerable years and remain profitable.
With very little background of a formal business education, Paa Kwesi has had to learn most of what he knows now by reading and studying real life situations, but a history of working with an investment firm also impacted him greatly.
As pioneer, Paa Kwesi’s word for people who are venturing into an unknown territory career wise, in pursuit of their passion is that: “ Set out to become a builder and not a worker because builders build nations and workers work for themselves. Mentors are essential, but if you cannot find any do not spend all your time looking for one, simply start on what you know and the right people will be drawn to you to help further your course.”
This Article is the result of the ‘Entrepreneur Hunt Project’ by Enterprise Hype