After spending four years of my life at the United Nations working as a Resource Mobilization Consultant, I realized the importance of allocating private capital to address some of the most challenging issues that we have on the continent. This realization compelled me to leverage on my experience, knowledge base and global networks to build pipelines and lasting solutions that will position African’s Creative economy to respond to the challenges regarding private capital acquisition for small and medium scale businesses. I worked on creating fund raising strategies for projects in climate change adaptation and poverty alleviation to empower women economically. While working on fund raising strategies, I met many ultra-high net worth individuals, family foundations and I realized their importance when it comes to allocating funds to these type of projects in the continents especially in developing countries or what the United Nations will call the least developed countries in small island states. Having gained such a strong network and knowing the issues and challenges we have in the continent, I wanted to come back and drive change and bring more financial resources to address some of these issues. I formed Annan Capital Partners initially as Roberta Annan Consulting Limited in 2012. The business started in New York, I was consulting between New York and Accra. I later on shifted from just advisory to helping African family offices to develop their strategies around giving, philanthropic strategies, setting up family foundations and setting up their strategies for impact investments. Today, that has translated into Annan Capital Partners, a boutique investment and wealth advisory firm that is aimed at building a pipeline of alternative investment asset classes for ultra-high net worth clients and family offices. Having realized the relevance of private capital and the dire need to support small-medium scale enterprises, I decided to support and build robust financial conduits that will provide the platform for small-medium scale enterprises to thrive. This ambition to spark growth have compelled me to engage in meaningful partnerships and collaborations that have provided immense support to brilliant and amazing local talents in the African Creative Space.
What advice would you give to an upcoming youth or talents locally and internationally?
I would encourage the youth to be free thinkers, to never underestimate their worth, to be fueled by their passion, and be motivated to appreciate fresh perspectives because succeeding in any capacity is grossly underpinned by consistency, determination, perseverance and discipline. Having been involved in impact investing, philanthropy and advocacy throughout my career, I cannot underestimate the importance of giving back. I encourage any upcoming youth to give back to communities by undertaking sustainable and meaningful projects that touches lives and impact positively on people’s growth.
Having a plan and a personal vision is also very integral, don’t worry even if it changes because plans are tentative. It is ok if your plans and personal vision change, but the process of constructing a plan and articulating what you see in your future yields the benefits of thinking through the steps of how to get somewhere.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started?
Mistakes can be very discomforting; however, it is natural in the career development process. It may help you become more comfortable in actively identifying opportunities and taking risks. Before I kickstarted my career, I was always poised to do a 100% work without mistakes and when I find myself making mistakes it had such a great toll on me. I was oblivious of the fact that success often came with a measure of mistakes to be committed along the way. Recounting and reflecting on the impact that had on me caused me to do a personal introspection of myself and my abilities and I realized those mistakes actually weren’t mistakes but they were actually new ways to address the problems I was trying to resolve. I want to encourage anyone who consistently makes mistakes not give up because mistakes sometimes offer an opportunity for a lesson to be learnt. Therefore, do not be worried if you trip here or there, because some mistakes do create paths that are entirely new providing an opportunity for advancement and a new learning curve.
What books are you currently reading?
“Compelling People” by John Neffinger and Mathew Kohut
“A promised Land” by Barack Obama
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
I would not term that as contentions I would rather call it concern for future career path. It is practically normal to expect close family relations and people who are keenly interested in your advancement to express concern for your chosen career path. My Mum wanted to understand my rationale and why I have chosen to build my career path by investing in the African continent, but when I finally justified the impetus for my passion, she resolved to support me with all that she had. Impact to me is everything and recognizing the planet before profit is part of my personal ethos. I am appreciative of where I have come from and where I am headed, I am positive of greater and better things to come and more confident of effective and rewarding collaborations to dive into
What were the biggest initial hurdles and how did you overcome them?
My stay at the United Nations was an eye opener as it exposed me to the diverse challenges confronting the African continent. I am a passionate supporter of African’s creative economy and a developer of people’s capacity; I am interested in value creation and value addition for small – medium scale businesses, however the challenges that always confronted me was capital and the fragmented nature of Africa’s creative economy. This situation however required a simultaneous solution on how to help these businesses thrive amidst the challenges with capital acquisition and funding? I resolved to critically think of strategies to help raise funds and support creativity and innovation leveraging on my resource Mobilization and fund-raising experience developed with working with the United Nations. I established the African Fashion Foundation to provide financial assistance to support African designers in the creativity space with business skills for advancement.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your success?
I would say patience is the most influential factor in my success. As a fund-raising enthusiast and impact investor specialist, I have come to appreciate capital as a patient product or acquisition. Capital is characterized by growth but growth is underpinned by patience, so in growing capital, patience and time is of the essence. Mostly investors or people want to grow their capital overnight forgetting that time and patience backed by preparation and planning is integral. I have been very intentional about growing capital and my network throughout my career, and all I can say about the most influential factor is “patience”.