Investment facilitation company, Naseba, is upbeat about enormous potentials in Africa, especially West Africa, where it wants to direct a portion of a large pool of funds it manages on behalf of high net worth clients.
The Chairman of the France-headquartered investment facilitation firm, Mr Scott Ragsdale, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS in an exclusive interview during a two-day fact-finding visit to Ghana that for the next two years, Africa would be his personal focus, as it tried to help its clients access good returns on their investments.
“We already have four clients who want us to organise meetings for them. So I came to Ghana to see some clients and see the opportunities for myself. I need to personally see, because if we introduce one bad opportunity to our investors, they will never work with us again,” Mr Ragsdale said.
Areas in focus
His visit to Ghana was around a real estate investment opportunity. But the company is also interested in aviation, health care, infrastructure, telecommunications, hospitality and many more. He will be going on to Sierra Leone and Nigeria on a similar mission.
Creating a platform for great business opportunities to meet ready capital in excess of US$50 billion, Naseba believes the future is Africa, an environment which currently offers 20 per cent plus returns to investor, higher than any other investment destination in the world.
The company has investors from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, India as well as in China, with individuals and corporates which together bring on board excess of US$50 billion investment-hungry financing, be they debt or equity.
A lot of investors are divesting from the Middle East, particularly due to impending interest rate United States hikes there. This leaves a lot of floating funds to the attraction of good investments opportunities in emerging markets and frontier economies such as Ghana.
“There are a lot of great opportunities here, but needs to be properly structured with a business plan that spells out specifics. Ideally, they need strong balance sheets. But in lieu of that, they need to have some strong vision that can be substantiated,” he said.
Naseba sees Ghana as a low corruption destination, compared to other African countries. Coupled with its frontier economy categorisation, the country is also very stable, though its development is not as rapid as other emerging economies.
“Ghana’s development is steady and consistent and we have investors interested in what is going on in Ghana,” Mr Ragsdale stated.
In the aviation sector, Naseba is interested in directing client investments into airport infrastructure and services to modernise the country’s rudimentary aviation services.
“If I can find a reliable Africa airline, it will be a good opportunity. Ghana’s airport for instance, has a huge potential; there is huge opportunity in that airport. We are interested in the infrastructure and the services in the airport because it’s a bit rudimentary,” he said.
The firm is also looking for local banks to partner them.
Naseba is aware that many start-ups and individuals may be looking for counterpart investors to make their dreams come true. But that, Mr Ragsdale said, made it challenging to distinguish the genuine serious business people from fraudsters and ‘dreamers’.
“The challenge is finding the right opportunities. Everyone is looking for money, but the challenge is funding the perfect ones. So we are looking for projects with really big potential to invest in,” the Naseba CEO stated.
Africa opportunities offer returns larger than anywhere else in the world and it was one of the reasons Naseba is fast spreading its tentacles to West Africa to partner with local businesses to explore viable opportunities together.
“I’m here because I want to see the opportunities myself. There is a lot of divesting from the Middle East now and that money will be channelled to new areas. The more conservative investors are going to America but they are not going to have the same returns,” he said.
“Africa is the only place to get the 20 plus returns. Africa is the future. I tell my clients in Africa; “you’re in the land of milk and honey. Africa is the future.”
The investment facilitator is also upbeat that fighting corruption in West Africa’s biggest economy, Nigeria, which had a massive emerging middle class, would have positive impact on the rest of Africa.
“The biggest risk to mitigate in Africa is the corruption and finding opportunities which when invested in could be sustainable for over five years.”
The investment facilitator considers corruption to include fraudulent activities of individuals who botch with investors’ money, popularly known as ‘419’.
“It is possible to find an investor and people will disappear with the investment in three weeks. This is more difficult than weaving through regulation.