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‘We are looking for creative people and problem solvers’

Recently in Nigeria, founder of Amey Finance Academy in London, DES AMEY, in an exclusive interview with Associate Editor, KEMI AJUMOBI, using his personal story as an inspiration that led to his financial liberation, speaks about the importance of accountable spending. His visit was also to connect project owners with potential investors. Excerpts:

Tell us a bit about your formative years

I was born in Accra. My father was a bio-medical professional and my mother a nurse. They met in the same hospital I was born. My father got a scholarship to London to continue his medical advancement. My parents gave me two career options, either to become a doctor, or become a doctor. Those were the ‘options’ I had. However, the blueprint that my parents gave me was to study hard at school, work hard and get that good and steady job, and then to advance in my career and everything will be ok. I was sold a dream by my parents and it didn’t quite work out like that for me. Parents mean well, my parents did when they told me what they wanted me to become, unfortunately, they may not have the financial principles that I now know.

What has brought you to Nigeria for this visit?

I came into Nigeria recently through an organisation called E.A.T.O.W (Embracing All Tones of Women), a black-led organisation dedicated to supporting women and men who want to excel in their businesses.

It has been absolutely amazing. We have been on the island and briefly on the mainland. We have been doing a lot of networking, panels and an awards show.

Nigerians are hospitable, friendly, and there is never a dull moment. I have been very privileged to be among some of the big names in various industries from finance to fashion, make-up and arts. It has been life changing.

What informed establishing the Amey Finance Academy?

Before my finance journey, I was a secondary school teacher and a vice principal as well for over 15 years. I love my job, and working with young people is an absolute honour and privilege. I do not know about here in Nigeria, but in the UK, teachers do not get paid well, even vice principals. So for me, I ended up living pay check to pay check. I would get paid and my money couldn’t stretch till the end of the month.

I was working just to pay my bills, and I ended up in debts of about £35,000. I realised I was living the very definition of insanity, which is doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting a different outcome. It was at this point I realised that something had to change. What I noticed, as well being a schoolteacher, was that the school system was failing pupils.

Pupils did not have a basic understanding of financial literacy and that is how Amey Finance came about. It was as a result of wanting to help the average person to understand finances and how to develop with their finances. Also, from a personal point of view, I wanted to help myself as well. I read a quote by Les Brown that says “Help enough people get what they want, and you will get what you want” and that is what drives me in business and prompted the birth of the academy.

Read also: Navigating through the hard times: What business organisations have to do

From commencement till date, what has changed?

Living from pay check to pay check was very stressful. I could not sleep at night, I was not able to really look after my family but now, I am an international speaker, I fly around the world, teaching financial principles. There are five financial principles that govern my teaching. We do not only give the theory, we give people the practical solutions to their financial situations, and I am so happy and grateful that we have created hundreds if not thousands of multi six and seven figure income earners in dollar currency.

How do you help SMEs to raise funds?

What a lot of people do not realise is that there are high net worth individuals constantly looking for projects to put their money into, they just don’t know where to find those people. On the other side, you have industrious people with good business ideas but they lack capital. What we do is bring the two together.

High net worth individuals who would like to do joint venture partnerships with people that have the ideas and business modules. We bring them together in order to bring those projects to life, to create a genuine win-win situation for both parties. We have been doing that around the world from the UK to US and Ghana, and we are now looking to expand in Nigeria too.

What is your selection process?

Everything starts with the business plan, the pitch, the deck. People have amazing ideas but what separates them for me apart from the initial ideas, are the three Cs, which include: being committed, coachable, and being consistent. If people can be coachable, then they can partner with the company in order for us to find them a match and to mentor them on their journey as well.

How do you manage people who have all the qualities without the three Cs?

We do come across those kind of people. For me, being without the three Cs is a hard-line. It is not negotiable for me. If somebody is not coachable, then it is a non-starter, which means you are not going to be a good fit for us because, what will happen is, the project will start, and if you are not coachable, then there will be pit falls and unnecessary hurdles that we have to cross and battles that we just don’t need. There is a sieving process.

In the early stages, we are looking to see people who are going to be committed on the journey because this journey is not easy. Most people expect the journey to be a smooth ride but what actually happens is that, it isn’t a smooth sailing ride. If you do not have the right mind-set, then Amey Finance is not going to be for you. Being committed is doing the things you said you were going to do when the mood you said it in has long left you, and for many people, they are very fired up at the beginning, but when the challenges come, they do not have the staying power, and they quit six inches before finding the gold. For me, these are red lines.

How can Nigerians benefit from the services that you provide?

As said earlier, we have partnered with E.A.T.O.W, and together, we have been able to put together a platform where Nigerians can contact us directly on the E.A.T.O.W website, and then we are able to initiate the application process. When we take the business plans online, we interview people on zoom, and start to get the process on the way to finding a match.

I am so happy and grateful that we have created hundreds if not thousands of multi six and seven figure income earners in dollar currency.

What a lot of people do not realise is that there are high net worth individuals constantly looking for projects to put their money into, they just don’t know where to find those people.

“Until we have readdressed the poverty gap that exists in the world, there is always going to be work to be done.”

What are the qualities you are looking for?

We are looking for people who are creative, people who can solve a problem. When people are looking for business ideas, I always want to know what problem you are solving, have you found a way to serve people? Most people find business ideas from frustrations, so there is something that is frustrating their life and then they find a solution to that problem. The starting point is to find out if you are solving a particular problem. We are also very keen on working in the digital space. We have a lot of investors who are looking for people in the blockchain space, because block chain is the future, whether we like it or not. Techpreneurs’ applications are very much welcome.

How is the digital space of value to you in information dissemination on your service?

I am reaching out to people using social media networks. Instagram is a great way for people to connect with me. It is @des_ameyfinance . I also do so in places like clubhouse, snapchat, twitter, tik-tok, places where young people are hanging out. We interact with them to let them know that business does not have to be so stuffy, and that there is a fun side to it as well. We get a lot of interactions on those platforms.

At what point did you decide it was time to begin tutoring on personal finance?

What we were finding out was that, there were a lot of business owners who were getting business loans, people who were able to acquire massive loans for businesses, but they were squandering the money. They were not using it wisely. You can give someone a lot of money for their business and if they are not using it wisely, all of it can go to waste, and I was seeing that pattern time and time again. I realised that what was actually needed was good education.

Also, there was a big demand of people needing access to personal finance, so a lot of these business owners were asking me how to help them with getting a mortgage for a house, and giving mortgage advice in the UK is a regulated space, so you need to retrain and get certain qualifications. So, the demand for mortgage advice, the demand for personal loans, the demand for good financial education was just too much. It was just a case of supply and demand. So, myself, my friend and some of my colleagues acquired the qualifications and then we rebranded from being a commercial entity to Amey Finance and Amey Academy as well. This was to really service that big need, and to help people to get on it and to be one of the biggest providers of property advice, and helping people to source properties as well.

On mortgages, considering the African environment, how can your service be tailored to fit in?

In Africa, we have had to be creative because mortgages are not as prominent as they are in the UK and US. So, what we have designed, is a membership rewards program that allows people to buy houses for cash. What we have done is, we have partnered with a multibillion-dollar company, and we have a reward programme where people are paid every single day, and through the compound effect, they are able to grow a very small amount of money into a large amount of money in a very short time frame.

People in Africa, Asia and so many developing countries are able to use this reward programme to buy houses for cash. It is a very clear system and it works. It does exactly what it says and the team members get paid every single day.

Are Nigerians buying in?

Nigerians are interested in this, since I have been here. We have had several events and meetings, and many Nigerians are getting started. The reason why is because it ticks every single box of the five principles that I teach.

First is Passive Income, which means being able to make money without working for it, earning money whilst we are sleeping. This is what the reward programme does. Number two is the Compound Effect, being able to take a small amount of money and grow it into a large amount of money in a very short time frame. Number three is Leverage, being able to leverage a system in order to grow our money. Number four is to Make Our Money Make More Money. Most people exchange their time for money, which is very honourable but there is a big flaw, there is only 24 hours in a day, and there is only so much money that we can exchange. The very last principle, is to have multiple sources of income. Most people have only one source of income and that is very dangerous. What we are now doing is giving people one, two or even three extra sources of income. They say that an average wealthy person has at least seven sources of income.

How many sources of income do you have, personally?

All of these are biblical. Ecclesiates 11:2 says “Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.”. I am blessed, happy and grateful that I have eleven solid sources of income.

Tell us about your book, ‘Starting Your Property Side Hustle’, which hit number one on Amazon

It was my assistant that called me to say I hit number 1. There were hundreds of people at the online book launch, and it just went viral. It felt amazing but what felt good were the comments I received. The feedback, people that have gone on to use what is in there to grow their property portfolios. Hitting number 1 on Amazon was nice and I am truly grateful.

It also actually surpassed my expectations because it is a very competitive market. One thing I can tell you is that, I did not write the book in order to become rich. Though it is a nice income stream but it wasn’t my motivation. I was teaching certain principles around property and very exciting ways for people who do not have much money to be able to make passive income from property. You see, most people try to do it the old way, they try to gather the money, buy property, renovate it, sell it on for higher amount of money or even rent out the rooms.

However, those ways are no longer working in many parts of the world. So what we teach now, are creative ways of making money from property, without necessarily owning the property. There are strategies that you can acquire properties from landlords, take full control, and rent them out as service accommodation, and make some nice passive income or even rent them out room by room to tenants. I was getting so many requests to lecture and I was repeating myself over and over again. So I decided I was going to put it all in a book, so that if anyone has any questions, the answers are in the book. I have not held back anything. A lot of people in this space won’t give you everything as I did in the book because they want you to attend one of their courses which is fine, because it is a business module but there is no hidden agenda with me. I have put everything in the book so that people can just get started.

Since you did not become a medical doctor as your parents wanted, do you think you have still been able to ‘save lives’?

I really wanted to make my mother proud. My dad left us when we were young. My mum is a tough nut to crack. She is proud of me but would not say it. She would tell my aunties. My parents wanted me to become a doctor. Income wise, I am grateful I am doing exceptionally well even though I am not a medical doctor, I am adding value in a lot of places. Right now, we have a huge building school programme in Ghana. We are building schools and kitting them with brand new computers. The next phase is to start building hospitals in Ghana as well. So even though I didn’t become a doctor, I am still ‘saving lives’ in my own way through empowerment and information sharing.

How would you rate your contribution to aiding financial liberation?

If you speak to my leadership team, they will say we have done exceptionally well, but I am never satisfied. It is because I know how huge the problem is and how many people need the services that we offer. I am very grateful for the impact we have had so far in the world, but we have so much work to do, so I am grateful but very dissatisfied. I have however dedicated the rest of my life to this work and I don’t think I will ever reach a point that I can rest because until we have readdressed the poverty gap that exists in the world, there is always going to be work to be done.

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