Creating wealth: A Ghanaian businessman shares his seven principles of success

Ghanaian entrepreneur and founder and CEO of the Kama Group Michael Agyekum Addo came from a poor family. He opened his first pharmacy in 1986 with no capital and today he owns 11 wholesale and retail outlets across Ghana, two pharmaceutical factories, a micro-finance firm, real estate business and a multi-purpose conference centre.

Michael Agyekum Addo

Michael Agyekum Addo

Addo is the council chairman of Ghana’s Pentecost University College, hosts a TV programme that educates viewers on entrepreneurship and oversees the Kama Education Project which trains teachers to make entrepreneurs out of students.

Addo has written a book, The Seven Principles of Success and Wealth Creation, in which he details his advice to entrepreneurs. He shares these ideas with How we made it in Africa.

1. Reliability

“We profess to be honest people but are we reliable? Are we reliable with our time?” asks Addo. “Time is money and we have no value for time. We call it ‘African time’ meanwhile we don’t have an African watch.”

Addo’s first principle to creating wealth and achieving success is reliability. He says people have got to be responsible for their actions. “We must show credibility. We must be a reliable group of people. After all, there is an adage that [says] ‘a good name is better than riches’. A good name means you fulfil all your promises.”

2. Hard work

Addo’s second principle to success is hard work, which means much more than being at work from 8am-5pm.

In his book he writes: “The extra mile you go each day plays a significant role in climbing the mountain of success. Hard work makes mastery. Working hard requires love for whatever you do.”

He says a hard worker is selfless, has discipline, maintains focus, does not complain and is a happy worker.

3. Savings culture

Addo recommends that people create a culture of saving, rather than living from paycheck to paycheck and using up all their monthly earnings.

“We should have something to set aside that will be for us, that will grow us, that will be our roots.” He likens people to trees: without strong roots they cannot reap the benefits of fruit.

4. Remember your background

To begin saving and to break the pattern of borrowing, Addo says people should remember where they come from – “a poor continent, a poor country, a poor family”. Rather than continuing the trend of borrowing and getting into debt, he advises readers to start saving to become richer people.

5. Investment

Another of Addo’s principles to creating wealth is investment, which leads on from saving.

In his books he advises people to use about 50% of their savings for investments in the first year, and then build on this with time and experience. In his book he writes: “When deciding to invest, try to do some research on the investment, invest no matter how small the amount, get some experience before making a high-risk investment, and seek advice when in doubt.”

6. God-fearing

A deeply religious person, Addo places power in faith, an idea he adds to his book: “If you fear God, you should display the 3Fs: be fair; be friendly and be firm to all people at all times.”

7. Patience

Lastly, Addo lists patience as a way of achieving success. “Be patient in whatever you are doing. Rome was not built in a day, even though a thousand miles start with one step.”

He expands on this notion in his book. “Don’t allow anybody to ‘rush’ you through life by forcing you to cut corners and take short cuts. Take your time and do things right. Most of the wealthy and successful people you see around are where they are today as a result of years of hard work, patiently working towards the goals they have set for themselves.”