The journey so far: John Armah, CEO, Orios Group

John Armah

John Armah is the co-founder and the CEO of Ghanaian company Orios Group, which focuses on investment and advisory, training and patient capital funding.

1. Tell us about one of the toughest situations you’ve found yourself in as a business owner.

Advising a client with [a] US$10m debt profile, assets encumbered and determining the surest way to capitalise the firm, address its seeping governance issues, settle the liabilities, [and] also ensure that obligations to stakeholders are met.

It’s still a work in progress, but the surest way out was to restructure [the] product, internal controls [and] corporate governance, assess [the] business model, pursue settlements on liabilities [and] ensure working capital is released to the client to shore up operations. Product margins are low, but ensuring that [working capital is released] frees up the asset base for use, given how strategic assets are amid other nuances.

2. Which business achievement are you most proud of?

Seeing the growth of businesses, especially their bottom line, is bliss. To have launched Orios Capital, a patient capital firm committed to providing managerial, legal and funding (debt/equity) [services], is still a big achievement, and the sheer transformation this capital has unlocked in many businesses we support has been worth it.

Being named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list provided the needed impetus of knowing that we are onto something with limitless possibilities of becoming a name behind a global giant from Africa. Our results for the equity platform ensure that we are building the next generation of businesses to yield both impact and profit for Africa.

3. Describe your greatest weakness as an entrepreneur.

Mostly empathy, a lot of people take advantage of this. The key I have learned is really to manage expectations in partnerships, staffing, doing good, or just trying to be there for someone. [It is important to] understand that emotional intelligence is an art and, when applied well, yields mutual benefits.

4. Which popular entrepreneurial advice do you disagree with?

“Pursue your passion.” Often, purpose is mistaken for passion. While some passions become great business[es], not all passions are worth pursuing. An individual may have a variety of gifts, but [an] entrepreneur [must determine which one s/he] has the greatest skill for and [use to] create value through [a] demonstrable product that consumers are willing and able to pay for, whether for profit or impact.

Passion may keep us going [and] passion may mean a business opportunity, but not all passions become business opportunities.

5. Is there anything you wish you knew about entrepreneurship before you started?

The effect of data analysis and its interpretation [on] company growth, business forecasts and modelling. Most businesses do not invest in data. Starting out has proven to be costly for many in most cases, [and] being daring in today’s world [encompasses] understanding what calculated risks are.

With the vast amount of information [available] on business opportunities today, customer profiling and competitor analysis, there is no excuse for just starting out anymore. Whether your business will start as a hobby or not, understanding market and consumer data will drive its growth.

6. Name a business opportunity you would still like to pursue.

Renewable energy. The transformative effect of green businesses [and] products could yield far more potential than any other business there is because of its effect on price, quality and sustainability of business models if well understood. Breaking the barriers to cost of entry when unlocked will yield a billion-dollar business.