Hi everyone! I got to interview yet another very fabulous woman. Ladies and Gentlemen, are you ready!?
Ama Duncan (AD): Lorraine, it’s really such a privilege to talk to you. Thank you so much for making time for this conversation. Now, I remember reading your profile and thinking OMG! You’re amazing and you’re doing amazing things all around. Before we dig in, first of all, how does it feel being of Ghanaian descent traveling around the world and walking into offices with “big men” and being one of those “big” people yourself (LOL). How does it make you feel?
Lorraine Wright (LW): Thank you for giving me this opportunity first of all and I’m looking forward to what we can unpack within this conversation and hopefully if there’s at least one person who hears the story then I’ll be more than happy because that is what I believe I’m here for on this earth, to inspire people. So to your question, “How does it make me feel?” I’ve actually not sat down to think about it like that. Because I’m more of a go getter so I just keep going and going and going and have never paused to think about it. I just know I do all things by the grace of God and I feel like every step I take is a stepping stone to the next thing I want to achieve in my life. I’m humbled by opportunities and being given these privileges as well.
AD: Interesting. I’m curious; have you always been this multi-passionate even as a child. Tell us about your childhood.
LW: I grew up in a Ghanaian, single-parent household. My mother had moved from Ghana to the UK. My parents separated when I was quite young, about the age of eight or nine. I’m the eldest of three children. My mum is one of the strongest women I know and in bringing up her children, she always instilled in us the efforts of working. She was the kind of woman who would expect that if you’re not studying, you’re doing something around the household. On Saturday mornings, my chore was to clean the bathroom. I hated it(Hehe)! So the moment I hit sixteen, I found myself a part time job. So now, I was either studying or out of the house working. I remember when I turned sixteen, she dragged me down the streets in South London with my CV and we were looking for jobs. Luckily, she spoke on my behalf at a Mothercare store and I began working there as a sales assistant. My working life started very early and since then, because of the feeling of being at home and cleaning bathrooms, I just kept working and working. I got promoted to supervisor very quickly then started taking on new jobs and was even working while studying in the university as well. That was when I learnt the ability to multitask, doing very well working and doing very well studying. I just had the fear of sitting down and doing nothing and you obviously cannot be in an African home and sit down doing nothing so I would always get busy (LOL).
AD: Hehe, yeah that’s true. I remember thinking my mum just didn’t want us to rest because she always found something for us to do when we were idle. I have a feeling I do same to my children as well, LOL.
LW: But I think we realize in hind sight, there was a reason for it. It helped prepare us for the future. Because when you’re sitting idle, you remind yourself how you can use that time for some kind of benefit rather than doing nothing. There’s a lot of sayings about idle hands so let’s not be that idle.
AD: Exactly, I totally agree. And I unashamedly confess that I do that I am always giving my children something to do, hehe. For me, the most impressive thing I found on your profile was that you founded a gospel choir competition! Please tell us about that.
LW: That is what I believe is my number one purpose in life. I absolutely love gospel choirs and I love gospel music. I’ve been in the gospel choir since primary and secondary schools through to university as well. What I noticed through all those experiences is that when you’re in a choir, you’re only singing in that environment. I felt like gospel music is such a powerful message that should be beyond the walls of where you are. So when I was in University, final year, I was watching one of my favourite movies, Sister Act 2, and God laid it on my heart that He wants to see something similar where choirs have the opportunity to go on competitions on a National level. That was when I told myself I had to start a gospel choir particularly for universities. University is where most people experience their first time of being away from home and family so the idea of creating a bond and unity of a gospel community would make people belong. There’s something so beautiful in the ten years that I’ve been running this. For ten years we’ve been running this in universities in the UK and twice in Ghana.
AD: Wow, that’s amazing. I’m getting goosebumps just imagining it. When is the next one happening?
LW: We’re planning it for the end of this year God willing. COVID-19 has really impacted things because you know for choirs you have to be together. But then the students were all working remotely from home and even in Ghana with the double track happening at the moment. We’re hoping to put resources together and have one in Ghana by the end of the year and the next one in UK next year.
AD: (God will definitely grant you the grace to make it happen) Now you’re involved in the choir, Grow For Me, your Nail Salon and all these things you do in the digital space. I don’t know how many hours you have in your day, but tell us please, what’s the tip or trick that helps you manage?
LW: You remember what I said about my childhood, it was always in the back of my mind that when I was idle there’s something wrong. I always try to maximize much of my spare time as possible. I have a full time job. I work for an investment bank in London and its actually 9 – 5. So what am I doing from 5 – 9 in the morning and 5 to 9 in the evening? That combined together is another work day, you know. There’s a whole new job you could potentially do in those hours and that’s how I break down my days. Nowadays I struggle to wake up in the morning, but late at night I can do more. So my tip is how you maximize the available time you have. Secondly, it’s also about having systems in place. One thing I’ve always remembered is, build a company to work without you. When you’re doing something, don’t let it rely on only you. To put systems in place means when you’re not there yet it’ll still run. That moves you from running a business to running a company. Because the business in some respect, is relying on you. Then what happens when you’re sick or when you have children or there’s some kind of conflict somewhere? That business isn’t going to run, but if you establish a company mind-set with systems in place, it means that you’ve got the opportunity to run and handle multiple things. I won’t say I’m there yet, but that is my goal.
AD: That’s really fantastic. Thank you for sharing that. I know you’re also involved in Grow For Me, I have read a bit about it and seen videos and testimonials too. First of all, tell us about how you got involved in Grow For Me, then about the company itself.
LW: Grow For Me is a fantastic company. In relation to putting systems in place that we’ve been talking about, I had been thinking about where I could put my disposable income, where I wouldn’t have to do any work? How could I get involved in something that’s booming right now without having to get my hands dirty? I studied my Executive MBA in University of Oxford and one of the co-founders of Grow For Me at that time was also looking at doing his Executive MBA as well at Oxford. He reached out to me, we got talking and he told me about the company and how I could get involved. For me it was a no-brainer. I told myself this is a fantastic opportunity to invest or make an impact in the diaspora especially for people who may not know how or may not want to get their hands dirty.
AD: That’s amazing. You just whet my appetite to want to know more. For someone watching who may want to inquire of the procedures or qualifications to be a part of this, what can you say to them?
LW: You absolutely don’t need qualifications at all. All you need is approximately 200 Ghana Cedis. What’s so exciting about Grow For Me is enabling anyone from around the world, in the comfort of your living room to become a farmer! You can farm without getting any of your fingers dirty. Consider it as an Uber or Bolt. Basically the Uber of agriculture. So it connects farmers (who have farms) to people like you who just want to invest your money or make an impact. So you bring them all the money and finances and Grow For Me will grow on your behalf. And what we would do is manage that farming activity so that once its grown and reached harvest, we can sell those items and essentially return the profits and proceeds back to you. It’s an amazing opportunity for you to get somewhere without having to do all the ground work. And I think COVID-19 has taught us that food is something that is always going to be in demand.
AD: I think that is a brilliant idea! How long have you been running this project?
LW: It has been running for approximately three years now. But in terms of the public getting involved, that begun in 2020. And since then, we’ve had 700 plus sponsors, 200 plus farmers. There’s a lot going on and we’re growing fast right now.
AD: This is beautiful. My dad was a farmer and I’m sure if he was still around, he’d appreciate this initiative so much. So, what are the names of the founders?
LW: We have Nana as the CEO. He’s a serial entrepreneur. A FANTASTIC CEO! Sometimes I sit back and ask myself how he does it. The Co – founder is Francis and he’s Head of the Farming Unit. They both met and studied Agriculture together in the University. Then we have the other co-founders Kwame and Godfred. These guys were trying to fundraise for an initiative. They actually cycled from Nigeria to Ghana. And it was on their route of cycling that they noticed the vast, virgin land in Ghana. And they thought, with all this land, why weren’t we producing enough? An issue exists that by 2050, the African population is going to have 2.5 billion people but we can barely even feed the 1.2 billion individuals we have now. Why? Because there’s not much investment going into the agricultural space for people to utilize this land. If we’re able to utilize all the rich land, we’ll be able to feed all the mouths we see by 2050. They have all been just amazing.
AD: Its really wonderful to see Ghanaians making things happen. Thank you for sharing this with us. Now for this part, please fill in the blanks to the following questions…
If I could advice my younger self in one short sentence, I would say, “just get started now”.
I am fabulous because, “I can do so many fruitful things at once”.
One book that has greatly helped me in business is, “Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki”.
AD: Amazing! I love Rich Dad Poor Dad too! Now before you go, how can we all be a part of Grow For Me?
LW: I’ll get a link posted beneath this video. Everyone can visit this link and from there you’ll be able to sign up and you’ll see the available crops we have. You’ll get to see how much it costs to purchase a unit. One unit is equivalent to 1/8 of an acre. So if you want to sponsor an acre, you’ll purchase 8 units and so on. The price listed there is the price for one unit. On the page as well, it will show you the potential return on sponsorship, it’ll give you a range. And that range is because, just like any investment, we can’t guarantee what your return will be, I want to be very clear and transparent about that. We have a range and this range is based on standards when it comes to agriculture which is mainly based on two variables.
1. How much your yield will be: that is how much will that crop weigh per Kilo
2. The price
These two variables together are what is going to determine what your sponsorship will be. Now when you visit the website, you will see the farming end date. If that crop is able to be sold with profit, that profit comes to you as well as your principal within two months of that end date on the website. You also get to see the farming locations and how your farm is progressing at each stage. Within two months of the end date, you receive 50% of the profit, the farmer receives 35% and Grow For Me receives 15%. Finally, we operate as a crowd funding platform which means when you sponsor a crop, you don’t just buy from one farm. We pull together funding and disperse it across multiple farms. We do this to mitigate as much risks as possible. Visit the Ghana Commodity Exchange website to check out membership and for anyone who recommends somebody, you get five Ghana cedis too and there are available opportunities for becoming a partner as well. If anyone has more questions, the can reach out to me or you.
AD: That’s great and I’m really praying for the success of this, because you’re young Ghanaians and agriculture is such an asset to us here in Ghana. Thank you so much for making time. I’ve enjoyed this interview. Where can we find you on social media?
LW: I’m available on Instagram – Lorraine H. Wright, my website is lorrainewright.co.uk on youtube youtube.com/c/lorrainewright and LinkedIn.
AD: I love chatting with women like you. You have no idea the energy and fire you give me. I’m so grateful and I’ll encourage many of the women who follow what we do to check out Grow For me as well as check you out. Thank you so much.
LW: Thank you for having me too. I really appreciate it.
Guys, I was getting goosebumps as I spoke with this fabulous woman. I love her confidence and her ideas and she’s Ghanaian! I think what Grow For Me is amazing. Let’s get involved and support it. Check out this link and be a part of this amazing initiative. Kudos to these young Ghanaians who begun this as well and kindly check out Lorraine on her online profiles too. I hope you enjoyed this and learnt something from it. Let me know in the comments what has been your biggest takeaway.
Here is the link to sign up with Grow For Me https://www.growforme.com/en/signup/?referralcode=amaduncan
Lorraine Wright, a British born Ghanaian, is a multifaceted business woman with a decade of corporate and entrepreneurial experience. Lorraine is a University of Oxford Exec MBA Graduate and a Director at UBS – a Swiss global financial services firm where she currently oversees the digital platforms managing UBS’ social impact and community affairs’ efforts. Her last 10 years have been spent in Financial Services leading a number of digital initiatives with multi-million CHF budgets, including 3+ years working in Zurich, Switzerland.
Lorraine is an experienced Project and Program manager with proven track record of leading large, cross-divisional, geographically dispersed and complex change programs. Alongside her day job, Lorraine is committed to impacting and transforming lives through her multiple businesses across the UK and Ghana. In the UK, Lorraine is the founder of University Gospel Choir of the Year – an annual competition for University choirs across the UK, UV Talent – a music talent agency supplying talent to shows like X Factor, BGT and the Voice and Vocsta a music competition app.
In Ghana, Lorraine is the owner of Liona Nails beauty spa and head of sales for the fast-Growing Agritech start up – Grow For Me which seeks to address food security and accessibility issues in Ghana and more broadly, Africa by enabling the diaspora to sponsor farms for financial returns.
Lorraine has won several awards including 2018 Power list as a rising star and GUBA (Ghanaian UK Based Achievement Award) Community Champion.