Charles Adu Boahen

Founder of Adu Boahen Foundation

Charles Kofi Adu Boahen was the Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance up until November 2022. Prior to that, he was Deputy Finance Minister responsible for Finance under the Nana Akuffo-Addo administration from April 2017 – Jan 2021.

In his role as Deputy Minister, Mr Adu Boahen assisted the Minister for Finance in executing his mandate with a specific focus on Finance and External Resource mobilization. As a Minister of State his oversight responsibilities were expanded to include Budget in additional to the Finance and External Resource Mobilization Portfolios and attending Cabinet meetings on behalf of the Minister.

Hon Adu Boahen has over 20 years of experience in Finance, specifically in Corporate Finance, Investment Banking, Asset Management, Private Equity and Real Estate. Prior to his appointment as a Deputy Minister for Finance, Charles was the CEO of Black Star Advisors (BSA), a boutique investment bank and asset management firm, and Primrose Properties Ghana (PPG), a real estate development company, both of which he founded in 2007.
Prior to that, Hon Adu Boahen was a Director and Regional Head of Corporate & Investment Banking for Standard Bank of South Africa.
Prior to Standard Bank, Hon Adu Boahen was with JP Morgan for over five years as Vice President and Head of Investment Banking for Sub-Saharan Africa where he was responsible for developing the Investment banking business across sub-Saharan Africa excluding South Africa, he was also the JPM Senior Country Representative for Nigeria.

He also worked for the $400mm AIG African Infrastructure Fund as an Investment Officer and on Wall Street for Salomon Smith Barney, now part of Citigroup, in their Investment Banking Division where his responsibilities included various corporate finance and mergers & acquisitions assignments, primarily in the Chemicals and Energy sector.
Charles completed all his secondary education in Ghana. He went to Achimota School in Accra for his O levels and Mfantsipim School in Cape Coast for his A levels.

He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BSc in Chemical Engineering from the University of Southern California.
Hon Adu Boahen has sat and chaired many boards including Ghana Cocoa Board, The Bank of Ghana, Vodafone GH, The Gaming Commission, G24 Deputies of the IMF.

Mr. Adu Boahen is single and has a son. He is involved in quite a few charitable organizations and initiatives. He enjoys reading, playing scrabble, collecting African art, real estate development and farming in his spare time. In 2017, Mr. Adu Boahen relinquished his US citizenship to take up the role with the Government of Ghana. His father, Prof Adu Boahen was a world-renowned African historian, politician and flag bearer of the New Patriotic Party in the 1992 elections.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My typical day starts with hitting the snooze button at 5am for ten minutes, and then heading out for my 6km morning walk. I use this time to think about the day ahead and get gather my thoughts together for the day and go through my mental to do list and type up little reminders on a keep notes app on my phone about stuff I need to get done and that I don’t want to forget.  My walk typically lasts for an hour or so.  I head straight into the shower as soon as I get back, get dressed and grab some breakfast, which typically comprises of eggs, a smoothie of fresh fruit and cup or two of English breakfast tea. I head into the office by half seven. First two hours, which I call my quiet time with phones on silent and strict instructions to my PA not to be disturbed, I usually spend reading and going through documents, proposals, reports and any other stuff that I need to catch up on.

Rest of the day I typically spend in meetings either in person or via zoom and checking off items on my to do list or delegating to others if required as I get through them. Lunch is always at my desk and is my main meal of the day. I may go for a meeting or visit a project site in the afternoon which gives me a chance to get out of the office to stretch my legs and get some fresh air. I typically leave the office after 7pm. I make it a point not to take work home, either mentally or physically, apart from on Sundays. I consider Sundays as working days if needed and a good day to prepare for the week  ahead and to complete any outstanding tasks from the prior week.

How do you bring ideas to life?

WhatsApp has been a great tool to improve productivity and help bring ideas to life quickly and efficiently. I approach any new idea for implementation like a project and the first step is always to create a WhatsApp group that comprises of all key stakeholders. This has proven to be a very efficient way to get things done effectively and information disseminated in real time. Using WhatsApp, various team members can be assigned various tasks and deliverables and given deadlines. WhatsApp also serves as a way to keep minutes and keeps a record of discussions. Its easy to remind yourself and everyone else on the platform of  who has been assigned to do what, you just have to scroll up. The ability to attached and share pictures, presentations and links to articles etc. in real time also makes it a very effective tool for collaborative work efforts.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Virtual interactive platforms like Zoom have transformed the way we work and interact, enhanced productivity, cut costs and have changed the way we disseminate information and education materials.

AI and its impact on search as we see today with ChatGPT is another very exciting phenomenon that has the ability to really change the way we work, conduct research and find information. Fintech and Mobile Money and other payment platforms have also revolutionized the way we pay for services and products instantly and move money around in real time.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Anticipation. The ability to spend time thinking about what could possibly go wrong and put in place alternatives and mitigants. Every minute  spent upfront identifying key risks, no matter how outlandish, and coming up with potential measures to address those risks is time well spent.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t cry over spilt milk!

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Reincarnation is real and this is evidenced by the fact that we live in a world of cycles; economic cycles, life or biological cycles, lunar or astrological cycles, organic cycles, agricultural cycles, spiritual cycles…

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Trust your instincts and intuition but take calculated risks and spend time to learn how to read people.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Diligence, persistence and robust analysis… you always need to be well prepared and be able to respond quickly and you do this by being tech savvy, read widely, especially about general, economic and financial history and try and anticipate future trends. History has a way of repeating itself.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I started an agricultural venture and scaled up too quickly and lost everything, so I went back to basics, figured out where my mistakes were and the importance of a pilot to identify any issues and challenges. So, now I always start new projects with a pilot which ensures that all issues are identified and resolved before scaling up. It was an expensive mistake but a very important lesson.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Where do I start?  Today, we are overloaded with too many choices when it comes to apps, software and web services, which can be a problem and be counterproductive. I have already spoken about Zoom and WhatsApp as two key tools/apps that I use daily and why. Keep Notes is another regular app in my toolbox. Bloomberg and the Economist are my key go to sources for news… Google Chrome is my preferred web browser and Google my preferred search engine. YouTube is also a great resource to learn about almost anything, from construction to astrology. “Just Answer” is another service that I stumbled upon recently that is quite impressive.. experts on every subject available 24/7 to answer any question you have for a very small and reasonable fee.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Outliers’ by Malcom Gladwell for me was a great book based on solid credible research. It was a book which taught me a lot and one that I think everyone can learn something from and should definitely read. In fact, I think it should be required reading in all high schools.

What is your favorite quote?

It’s from the bible and keeps me motivated. “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the arms to rest and poverty will come upon you like a bandit at night!” – Proverbs 24, 33-34