Mrs Francisca Karikari, CEO, Glorygate Capital Limited, has a very rich experience in the insurance industry that spans 20 years. She brings a great mix of leadership, inspiration, operational experience, technical breadth, and passion for customer care to the insurance industry of her country. In an exclusive interview with the Amazons Watch Magazine, Mrs Karikari shared some of her successes and accomplishments in Ghana’s financial services industry. Excerpt:

Kindly tell us more about yourself and some of your experiences growing up.

Mrs. Francisca Nyamekye Karikari is my name. My maiden name was Baah. I am a Christian, married to Dr. Anthony Yaw Karikari for Twenty Five years.

I am a Ghanaian by birth, born to Mr. & Mrs Johnson Baah of Kyekyebiase in the Ashanti Akyem  North District of Ashanti  Region. I grew up in the Volta Region of Ghana where I had my Elementary and Secondary Education in Shia Roman Catholic and Kpedze Secondary Schools respectively.

My sixth form was with Konongo Odumasi Secondary School, after which I pursued my university degree with Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi. I hold a BA(Hons) in Social Sciences, majoring in Economics and Law from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, a Chartered Insurer and an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute UK. I am a Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Ghana.

I have a double Master of Science degrees, MSc Insurance and Risk Management from City University, United Kingdom (now CASS Business School) -and MSc. Financial Services Management, also from London Guildhall University, United Kingdom (now London Metropolitan University). I have undergone many training courses in Insurance, Risk management, finance, leadership Corporate Finance and Corporate Governance among others.

As a child I was trained, as my father will put it ‘when you train a child as a slave he/she will live like a King or Queen in future, but when you train a  child as a Prince or Princess he or she may grow up and become a slave to another’. I have not yet attained the dream I had during my teenage years. It was bigger than where I am at the moment but I am on course.  I am determined to excel in everything I set my mind to, which always require making an extra effort than others.

Growing up,my father had eleven children and so life was not as easy as we expected. We supported our parents in many ways to make ends meet. As hardworking parents who were into many endeavours, I was trained into bakery, sewing, manning a glossary shop and a corn mill machine. I usually trekked long distances to the farm, and carried firewood back to the house. Also, we had to fetch water from a distant river many times in the morning before going to school. This we did with much difficulty.

During my university education, I had to do petty trading to look after myself and some of my younger siblings. I believe I owe my hard work to early years experiences. I must say we lived harmoniously together as a big family and that thought me how to relate well to people. I am sure that my business acumen started from my early years.

I believe strongly it is the providence and favour of God that has brought me this far. I will be quick to add that determination, staying focussed and hard work have contributed to my present position.

You have built a name for yourself in Ghana’s financial services industry, having started your insurance career with Enterprise Insurance as a Technical Trainee in March 1993. Kindly tell us about your career journey and some of the accomplishments you have recorded in your career.

I started my insurance career with Enterprise insurance company in March 1993 for about three years where I was promoted from the Technical Trainee position to Assistant Superintendent. There was a brief break in Career ( to have a baby) and I joined Metropolitan Insurance Company (Now Hollard)  on 1st June, 1998 where I was in charge of the Claims Departure. I rose from a Claims officer to Depute manager, Claims within two years and then travelled to UK to upgrade myself.  

I came back after two years with double Master of Science degrees, MSc in Insurance & Risk Management and MSc in Financial Services Management. I was made a Manager in 2003 where I supervised underwriting, Claims, Reinsurance and Risk Management departments.  In 2004, I rose to the position of a Senior Manager and the Head of Corporate Department. Within seven years that I worked with Metropolitan Insurance, I was promoted every year, from An Officer grade to Senior Manager. A record none has been able to break till now.

I took on a challenge at the then CDH Insurance Company limited (now NSIA) as a Deputy General Manager in charge of operations in June 2005. Six months down the line, I was confirmed and promoted to a full General Manager. I was part of the team that restructured CDH Insurance Company Ltd. (CDHI)(Now NSIA) to put it on a sound footing in the Ghanaian insurance industry

In April 2009, I took on another challenge at GLICO General Insurance Company limited as an Executive director. On 2nd January, 2010, I was appointed the Managing Director of GLICO General Insurance. Whiles at GLICO I played a significant role in turning the Company around and driving its growth.

Under my outstanding leadership GLICO General Insurance Company, as a result of hard work and a commitment to duty, was awarded the A-Rating by the Global Credit Rating Company (GCRC). Besides the GCRC rating, GLICO General Insurance Company ranked second in the category of non-life insurance companies on the list of the Ghana Club 100.

GLICO GENERAL was also the only non-life insurance company to receive the Business and Financial Services Excellence Award for 2010-11 instituted by the International Christian Business Excellence, Ghana.

I joined Donewell Insurance in January 2013 as the Managing Director after putting the building blocks of Liberty Insurance Brokers in place. I was responsible in shaping Donewell’s strategic direction and established the needed organizational structure and operating systems and aligned the Company’s operations with the strategic direction and priorities established by the Board. I also turned the Company around into profitability and spearheaded its growth within the 10 Month period. In the National Insurance Commission(NIC) Annual Report 2013 page 53 states that “the improvements in the ratios in Donewell Insurance was as a result of improvements in operational results.” Change in Capital and Equity moved from -9 (negative 9) in 2012 to 52 in 2013.

My achievements within the short period confirmed the introductory remarks from the Donewell Board at the time as “Mrs. Karikari is an accomplished leader, with a track record of working with high-growth companies. She brings a great mix of leadership, inspiration, operational experience, technical breadth, and passion for customer care. She has a very rich experience in the insurance industry that spans 20 years. Donewell is fortunate to find someone that has such a perfect set of skills during these challenging times”. My praise and thanks goes to God Almighty for making it possible.

You are today Chief Executive Officer of Glorygate Capital Limited. What would you say inspired you to entrepreneurship?

It all started with the desire to affect my generation and to motivate young people especially ladies that they can reach higher heights. The Bible says in Mathew 19:26 that “…with God all things are possible.”

The passion to give others the opportunities to work and touch lives by making them meet their basic needs, to shape other visions (workers) and career through mentoring and to impact the society better. Also, the desire to implement some of the ideas I could not implement whilst working for other corporate organizations.

The question I asked myself was ‘What can I do after passing all the exams to become a professional and more?”

Can she do it? Do you think she is capable? Does she have time? She has a family to take care of. Anytime I hear or I am confronted with these statements or hear the male counterpart or group of people say it, then it gives me more reason to up my game and challenge myself the more. This has helped me “The can do spirit”.

My husband, who is a Scientist noticed my entrepreneurial skills and decided to study Insurance and worked as a Partime Agent to have a practical knowledge in Insurance. He was among the First team of students the Ghana Insurance College trained to be awarded a Diploma and an Advance Diploma in Insurance by the Malta Insurance Institute. He founded Liberty Insurance Brokers in 2012 and that is why I am privileged to manage two companies.

We all have a life span to live on earth but none of us know when we shall be called “home”. We need to make a mark. To leave behind a legacy is my strongest motivation. Something I can be remembered for when I am no more. I want to pass the business on to a future generation.

The challenges entrepreneurs face in Africa are often more visible for women. For instance, the challenges entrepreneurs in Africa face when accessing finance are more visible in women-led businesses. Studies reveal that female entrepreneurs that sought funding from venture capitalists only received 25%, on average, of the amount they asked for; while men received, on average, over 50% of the amount they asked for. In the same vein, studies showed that 53% of women had applications for finance denied, compared to just 38% of men. What are some of the gender-based challenges you have faced in your business life and how did you sidestep them?

The Key challenge was capital. I mean funding. I initially approached my bankers for a loan but the best they could offer was a personal loan which was not enough to do the strictly regulated business.

I therefore started accumulating my savings from my salary for sometime whilst  holding on with my vision. I also depended on some of the capital investments I had, to generate funds to kick start. I have discovered that if you believe in your dream you must invest in it in order for others, likes banks to support.

It was my personal decision to be an Entrepreneur. I knew it was about taking risks but I was sure of what I wanted to achieve. I therefore prepared myself against any disappointment gender may bring my way. Since I had worked for many years and invested towards my dream I took off smoothly and stabilized my company before approaching a bank for a loan. The initial financial disappointment from the bank could not kill my dream.

How do you think that Africa can scale up access to affordable finance for female budding entrepreneurs and smallholder farmers in rural areas?

Governments of African countries must come up with a deliberate policy through their gender ministries to assist women assess funding in all sectors based on ability to deliver.

Also, there should be a deliberate pursuit of policies for making financial services accessible at affordable costs to all individuals and businesses, irrespective of net worth, size or gender.

What are some of your efforts in mentoring and making inroads for women in your industry?

Public Speaking Engagements within the Ghana Insurance and the Capital Market and also Religious gatherings.

Wherever I am, at work, home etc, I take personal interest in everyone to improve on their skills. When I see young people especially ladies, I engage them, appreciate them, caution, challenge them and offer solution to any queries they might have.

I am also a Part time lecturer at the Ghana Insurance College (GIC) and teaches at Management Development and Productivity Institute. (MDPI)

I am also a Marriage Counsellor.

How do you balance your family and business life?

I separate office work from my role as a wife and a mother. I try to work extra hard and bring people along with me. I have an understanding and hard working Chairman and Board of Directors. I also have able Lieutenants and motivated and hard working staff. Above all I do have a supporting family so we intentionally spend quality time together.

What’s the best way for the readers of Amazons Watch Magazine to connect with you (You can include links to your social networks and websites) Optional

Readers can reach me via email address fkarikari@hotmail.com

Facebook: Glorygate Capital Limited

Facebook: Liberty Insurance Brokers Limited

Websites: www.glorygatecapital.com

www.libertybrokersgh.com

As I conclude I wish to advise that the youth should break beyond the norm for the sky is the limit. Since I have been able to do it with hard work and determination, they will be able to accomplish whatever they set their hearts to do. And by so doing they would be adding value to themselves and the society.

The youth should educate themselves to whatever level possible. They should be team players, work very hard, put up good character and integrity but above all they need Jesus to be able to affect their society positively.

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