Making Africa’s 40 under 40 list with an Executive MBA | TopMBA.com

Making Africa’s 40 under 40 list with an Executive MBA

By Laura L

Updated June 15, 2022 Updated June 15, 2022

Nelson Amo, from Ghana, was awarded with a Forty Under 40 Africa award in 2022, for his dedication and commitment to supporting small and growing businesses to unlock their investment potential. 

Nelson is the CEO of Innohub, a business accelerator and impact investment platform that supports small and growing businesses to become sustainable, scalable and investment-ready. As a leader in enterprise support, Nelson has become a force to be reckoned with in Ghana and beyond. 

He credits his success to a passion for creating a better future for Africa’s youth, and crucial exposure to leaders in the impact investment field, thanks to an EMBA in social finance at Saїd Business School, University of Oxford.  

Why was Saїd Business School the right choice for your EMBA?  

I’ve always wanted to study at Saїd Business School at the University of Oxford. It has a huge reputation in Ghana for its high-quality course content, the exposure it offers to key players in industry, and its status as an elite business school.  

I thought about my education as if I was picking a car. What brand would I want to be associated with? I couldn’t choose anything but the highest quality. 

The Oxford Social Finance Programme is focused on educating students on the challenges within finance and impact investing, and finding the solutions to those problems. That really justified my desire to study at Saїd Business School. It’s been a dream. 

How did the Oxford Executive MBA prepare you for your career? 

During my master’s degree at the London School of Economics, I visited Ghana to understand what systems are in place to support businesses to meet the sustainable development goals (SDGs). To my shock, there wasn’t enough in place to support small businesses and start-ups to grow, scale, create jobs and make social impact purposefully. So, I told myself I would contribute to bridging that gap.  

The Oxford Executive MBA created a lightbulb moment and showed me that everything I wanted to do was possible. The resources and materials we had at our fingertips, and the access to high profile leaders in the finance field, have gone a long way to improving what I can offer the world.  

What sets you against the crowd to gain a spot in Africa’s Forty Under 40 list? 

At the risk of sounding boastful, I was in a meeting recently where somebody said, “as for you, Nelson, when we talk about supporting small businesses, the only name that comes to mind is yours.”  

I think that has come from the learning and exposure I gained from my business education. I believe it’s the quality of exposure you gain that can really open your mind to different ways of approaching things and set you apart.  

I was recently the keynote speaker at a national public lecture in Ghana about harnessing trade and industry for job creation, with the Minister of Trade and Industry as a special guest. I think I’ve gradually built myself into a force to be reckoned with, because of the experiences I’ve had and the solution-focused thinking I’ve developed.  

The reputation I’m building is showing me that we have something in Innohub that the world is looking up to.  

Why did you choose to create a platform that supports small businesses to become sustainable, scalable and investment ready?  

While studying for my master’s degree at London School of Economics, I became really interested in the convergence between business and development, and how impact investments could catalyse this convergence. What I’m most passionate about is creating jobs for young people, lifting them off the streets and making sure that indigenous businesses can thrive in the process.  

Job creation is not just about economy. It’s a security issue. If we don't build systems that create jobs for our people, we are all at risk of being impacted by the young person on the street that doesn't have a job and who can fall into violence, robbery, or drug abuse.  

In many African countries, young people make up around 70 percent of the population, but opportunities are limited. For me, the key is to create more opportunities for young people to thrive, to build businesses and to recruit other young people. 

Many young Africans come from a family of four or five siblings, so creating an income for one young person can give a whole family an income. I was the first child in a family of five children and I had to become a pillar of support for them all once I graduated from my undergraduate degree. 

When you create work for young people, you are lifting families out of poverty and building a generation that is set up to prosper. If any of the businesses we work with at Innohub create jobs for 20 people, that is a huge impact. 

What makes an innovative leader? 

I define innovation as the ability to create something out of nothing, and leadership as the ability to create a desired future by getting people along to realise that future. Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders. 

It's about doing things that make a clear and demonstrable impact. If it doesn't move the needle, it's not worth it. You need to have foresight. If you are a leader without people who can buy into the vision, though, you’re basically having a walk in the park. You're not leading anyone.  

How important is collaboration for success? 

I’m a big believer that finding the right collaborations is what makes the difference. Collaboration is what helps us to see bigger opportunities and to achieve greater things. At Innohub, we work with many different companies and partners, some within Ghana and others across Africa and the rest of the world. It’s key to the success of what we're doing.  

I always look for opportunities to work with others. It's better to have 20 percent of a $200 million project than to have 100 percent of a $10,000 project. 

What advice would you give to prospective EMBA students on becoming a force to be reckoned with? 

Always ask yourself “what's the endgame?” You should allow the endgame to define the path you take. What does success look like and will this institution help you to get there? If you’re looking to build a network in this space, which business school will meet your needs?  

There is one word that should be guiding us in our decisions and that’s legacy. What legacy do you want to create? What kind of impact do you want to have? How can you make yourself relevant? 
 

This article was originally published in June 2022 .

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As Senior Content Editor for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, Laura publishes articles for our student audience around the world, working with ambassadors and alumni to provide helpful content to those looking for study options. Laura has six years' experience in Higher Education marketing and writing for a student audience. 

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