Managing Director of Diamond Capital Investments (DCI) Microfinance, Selasie Woanyah, interviewed on Ghana’s number one urban radio station, Y107.9FM’s ‘Myd Morning Show’ (MMRS), shared the story of his humble beginning away from Ghana to becoming a successful manager of a microfinance investment company.
In a conversation with Rev. Erskine on the ‘Y Leaderboard Series’ segment of the MMRS, Selasie Woanyah disclosed that he grew up in a small town in the north of Nigeria to a teaching father and a mother who was furthering her education in the university.
The Managing Director for DCI indicated that his parents were among other Ghanaian professionals, who at the time moved to Kafanchan in Nigeria due to the earlier discovery of oil, but were forced to relocate to Agege following a massive bug infestation in the town.
“I was born in a small town in northern Nigeria called Kafanchan. My Dad and Mom were being bitten by the Nigerian bugs which bit people in the 1970s. Just like most Ghanaian professionals moved to Nigeria because of the discovery of oil, my parents also moved there for somewhat a better life. Most were disturbed by the bugs, so we had to move to Agege, where I later started Kindergarten. At the time, my mom was in the university and my dad was a teacher at the teacher’s training college, so I lived alone with him,” he said.
Selasie Woanyah stated that he had the opportunity to meet ‘big’ people during his father’s Rotary Club meetings as he described his childhood in Nigeria as a great experience.
“My Dad used to take me to Rotary Club meetings, the tennis court and stuff like that. So, I started meeting people at a very young age. They actually gave me an accolade like, ‘the youngest member of Rotary Club ever’ since I was obviously the youngest,” he added.
Mr. Woanyah shared that, one of the most bizarre incidents in his life was when his family survived a fatal accident upon their return to Ghana. “For me, that is one of the things that I remember clearly as though it was yesterday because it had a significant impact on my life. We survived, got back to Akatsi in the Volta Region with my aunty; and I continued my basic education there”, he said.
According to him, he was moved to a boarding school while still very young, where he had to fend for himself with basic necessities. To him, these experiences have helped and shaped him to become the determined man he is today. “It was quite an experience and a learning curve for me because I had to grow up very quickly”.
The DCI boss recounted how he broke through the finance business, indicating that he was quite unsure of his career path growing up unlike friends who knew what they wanted to pursue.
He said: “With regards to what I wanted to do with my life in future, I’d be lying if I said that I actually knew what I wanted to do. Many of us at the time when asked we’ll say, ‘I want to be a doctor, I want to be a pilot’, but I don’t think we really knew what we were saying. We were all just saying it. I didn’t have a grand scheme of what I wanted to see. I just knew that I wanted to be successful in life, and I wanted to make a difference for myself, my family and for my people.”
Mr. Woanyah added that he never had role models to look up to because “I don’t think at the time, we had the opportunity to have too many role models beyond our family settings; so I wouldn’t say I had any”. Nonetheless, seeing some people was an inspiration for many of them as he just wanted to be successful in life and make a difference.
Highlighting tips on how to start a business, Selasie Woanyah urged the Ghanaian youth to consider partnerships. He urged the youth to look out for partners who are in agreement and understand the direction of the business they want to go into.
“It’s not advisable for people to go into business alone, it would be better to do it together with people you trust. When you find such people, write everything down and make sure you all have the same goals; have conversations around the ideas you have, and focus on building your product. After, build your market to a point where you’re able to sell it,” he mentioned.
He noted that, lenders do not lend to people with ideas, but people ready to build their businesses. “My advice to young people is that, focus on building your business. First of all, get the right partners and don’t go into business alone”, he emphasised.
Selasie earlier gave his personal remarks of the youth-inspiring programme, the ‘Y-Leaderboard Series’, as he attested to being an ardent follower of the programme.
“The Y-Leaderboard Series, I think, is a great idea and you’ve spoken to a few of the people whom I know personally. Giving the opportunity to youths to listen to people like them – people who have gone through the trenches in life, fought some battles and come out victorious, obviously lost some, won some and share these lessons – is important for those who are coming up to listen. Maybe they might not learn anything from the entire story, but something may hit them and make an impression or change the course of their lives; so it’s definitely a great thing you’re doing here with the Y-Leaderboard Series,” he commended.
Programmes Manager of YFM Accra, Eddy Blay, speaking on this interview said: “We couldn’t have come this far without the support of the leaders who were willing to inspire the youth to reach their potential. For that, we are grateful to Selasie Woanyah, for taking time off his busy schedule to come and share some inspiration to the youth”.