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Adjoa Boateng heads MicroEnsure’s operations in Ghana, Malawi and Nigeria. She joined the team in 2012 and was responsible for converting its NGO operations in Ghana into a for-profit business. MicroEnsure develops mobile micro-insurance products for telecos.

1. What was your first job?

My first job ever was as a sales person in a gift shop in a hotel. I was straight out of high school, so I was about 18 years old.

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2. What parts of your job keep you awake at night?

For me it is about keeping the business sustainable and profitable because I feel a great sense of responsibility for the people in my team. It is a huge responsibility to make sure that whatever decisions are made are the right ones… and everyone will still have their jobs. So what keeps me up at night are the lives that I have in my hands – my team. When I first started MicroEnsure Ghana we were [a team] of nine, and now we are 40-plus. So you can imagine, all these people which I now feel a great sense of responsibility for. I am like a mother hen which has to make sure that all these people are taken care of in terms of the business decisions I make. So that keeps me up at night.

3. Who has had the biggest impact on your career?

I come from a family of women entrepreneurs, and hard-working women… My grandmother was an Ankara (African wax print) trader back in the 1950s and worked through till the 1990s as a big wholesaler of Ankara in Kumasi. I remember at the age of about five years I used to go to the shop with her and then we would go home with a lot of money and I would stay up with her helping her count it. I took so much inspiration from my grandma… and I say this with a lot of emotion because she died in 2014. Although she had never been to school, she knew every single stock she had in her shop and managed to build two houses out of that business. She was also a single mother to five children.

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