In the Diaspora: Interview with Claude Roberts
Claude: I am 24, from North London and I currently work in Investment Banking with a degree in International Finance . I have always been interested in Finance from a young which started from an innate fondness of Mathematics. During my time at University, I came across many concepts and theories which looked at things from an International Context and it was here that I discovered my interest in Ghana‘s Economy. From several University assignments in which I chose my country of origin as the focal point, I became more and more intrigued by how the country operated from an economic standpoint and the pros and cons that resulted from this. Ultimately upon completing University, I became aware of the fact that there is a lot of work that needs to be done and change that needs to occur. I want to be a part of that.
JF: Who are you and what do you do?
CR: My name is Claude Roberts, I am 24 years old and currently working in Investment Banking in Regulation and Compliance. I currently occupy a senior position which comes with added responsibility.
JF: Why don’t you share a fun fact or two?
CR: Ghanaian men are the most faithful and the best Africa has to offer (laughs)! I am half Ashanti and half Ga. Second fun fact, I am actively trying to develop my currently limited Twi as I am interested in moving back.
JF: When was the last time you went to Ghana?
CR: I was 14 the last time I went to Ghana, however I intend to go this year for my 25th birthday.
JF: I am sure you will have a great time and advise that you definitely visit Cape Coast whilst you are there. What are your opinions of the current President?
CR: Nana Akufo Addo brings a very liberal perspective to Ghana, traditionally a rather conservative state with very homogenous views on things such as sexuality, gender and even education. I definitely resonate with a number of the policies and initiatives he is attempting to roll out. It is important for initiatives that directly influence the quality of life, labour force as well as the overall dispersal of wealth.
JF: You have definitely shone light on some key points particularly about the importance of focussing on things that influence quality of life. What challenges do you think Ghana currently faces?
CR: Infrastructure or the lack thereof, would be number one. A lot of areas outside Accra are underdeveloped. To rectify this, I am increasingly interested in the development of villages and smaller towns outside of Accra. I do have a duty to go back to Ghana and assist in the development of the nation and to neglect that would be a great disservice. I think access to education is another challenge, again especially in regions outside of Accra. Education is important and ultimately a universal global language. Investing in education and access for those in less built up areas will in the long-run, increase productivity and stimulate the creative process. It is important for us as Ghanaians and anyone reading this to break out for the ‘every man for themselves’, ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality because there is strength in collaboration and if we want to see Africa rise, we must stand united and assist where we can.
JF: I think it is interesting that you have spoken on charity work and your desire to give back in such a philanthropic way. Many people that desire to move back rarely consider this and focus a lot on self and their business ventures.
CR: I am a man of God and I believe that God puts things in your life for a reason, for you to unlock. He has blessed me with my current job which I am eternally grateful for. Why wouldn’t I give back to my people? I want to dedicate my life to developing the country in any way possible and charity is definitely a way to do so.
JF: That is an admirable standpoint to have. You mentioned briefly gender roles. Granted they cannot be abolished overnight but what do you think can be done to further inclusion of women within business and political realms?
CR: Ghana, as with a lot of African countries is archaic in their views of what women ought to do or how they should behave. In such environments, women are often stigmatised for being career driven. I believe we need to invite more opportunities for women and not discriminate based on gender; allow women to occupy managerial roles and increase inclusion in significant ministerial positions in government.
JF: I am in support for more women in leadership and commend women such as those listed in my IWD 2017 post that have broken the barriers in their respective fields and excelled. As you are in your preliminary stages with regards to your move back to Ghana, what does the future hold for Claude Roberts?
CR: I have a 5 year plan that starts with capital building through investments, trust funds. I will be making periodic visits to the country with the aim of investing in real estate and from there, start maximising my business activities. It will be a gradual process. By 30, I want to make it happen, hit the ground running and make that semi-permanent to permanent move.
JF: What advice would you give to other Ghanaians in the UK and diaspora as a whole that are interested in aiding the development of the nation?
CR: This is somewhat a cliché answer but go and do your research. If you are serious, look into the economy, evaluate statistics, look into areas where the country is thriving, where it is currently under-performing and identify how your passions, interests and business ideas align with the needs and gaps in markets. Secondly, plan carefully – especially when it comes to the allocation of finances. My mum always tells me never to make a rash move to Ghana – gauge the country for yourself and in doing so, build a solid base here first for yourself. Finally, understand that you will need will power. As with anything in this life, being part of such a movement is not going to be easy and there have been times I have felt rather discouraged but believe in God, have strong will and resolve and that will keep you going in the trying times.
It was great speaking with Claude, given that he comes from a very academic standpoint. This was literally a snippet of our interview - so many gems were dropped. I look forward to seeing Claude excel within his professional career and also in his entrepreneurial and philanthropic ventures in Ghana also. Watch out Charles Ampofo, we may have another mogul on our hands!