‘Philanthropy to me is an expression of gratitude to life. We have been blessed with many physical and environmental gifts, so giving back to society is imperative. We all have a role to play in society and philanthropy to me, is one of the many ways to do so.’

The African diasporan lives a double life; often travelling back and forth from their western ‘home’ to back ‘home’ on the sprawling continent. In an attempt to not miss out on their rich traditional culture; protecting investments and networks here and back home, how can diasporans ensure a healthy balance of both? As the CEO of GUBA Awards, GUBA Expo and the GUBA foundation, Dentaa Amoateng MBE shows us how we can enrich and empower the African community in the UK and back home. But what is the secret? How does she do it, and why?

Dentaa, as she fondly known to us, spearheaded the GUBA Enterprise, a non-profit organisation which focuses on enriching the African community, to uplift and encourage personal growth. Dentaa’s first break was in 2006 with her own TV show – an entertainment programme featuring exclusive interviews from celebrities in Ghana and the UK. But she also had a calling in healthcare…

My dream from a young age was to become an actress and TV presenter. My passion at the time was to work with children, so I proceeded to take a degree in nursing. I am now a practicing paediatric nurse and lucky to be working with young people. I feel very blessed to say that I am fulfilling my dream…

Being a paediatric nurse is one facet to this diamond. She has gently brought together a stream of passions because of her unwavering self-belief. From paediatric nursing, to sport management and acting/presenting. Dentaa asserts…

All these credentials relate to one thing – I believe in pursuing what you are passionate about. After all, why limit yourself if you can attain a lot?

Limitless she has been. It shows the importance of self-awareness can be the foundation of success across a multitude of disciplines. I want to know her top tips on success. Her list begins…

To be open and willing to learn new things, to ask for help if you need it, to always remember why you started, let your passion drive your decisions, be persistent – regardless of the hurdles, and to conduct thorough planning and research.

Princess Anne, awarding Dentaa her MBE

Princess Anne, awarding Dentaa her MBE

Dentaa’s work and dedication has not gone unnoticed. I personally discovered this media personality watching her on the British-Ghanaian digital TV station OBE. Fast forward over ten years later she was named Europe’s most important African woman and most recently was awarded an MBE…

The Most Important African Woman in Europe award was incredible! It was an indicator that our work goes beyond the UK and parts of Africa. We are constantly working to expand our current reach, which we do through the GUBA Expo. The aim of the GUBA Expo is to encourage further trade between Africa and Europe thus, the award was a great starting point.

As an African, the notion of being a member of the, Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, considering the abhorrent enslavement and colonial history between the UK and Africa; some would say that she should not have accepted it. Is this one of the opportunities that Africans in Britain should always take advantage of? The debate on this issue is polarising, I famously remember poet Benjamin Zephaniah’s very public rejection of an OBE.  Dentaa explains what it meant to her to receive it…

To be the recipient of an MBE is a huge honour. It was unexpected and I am grateful for it. An MBE opens a vast number of opportunities, of which benefits our community as a whole. We cannot ignore the negative past between the UK and Africa, what we can do instead is to focus on ways that we can improve in society and business.

There are several black business events, podcasts, seminars, groups and conferences all year round to improve the flow of the black pound in the African-Carribbean community. From Croydon to Leeds, African market events are buzzing. But what about on an international scale? Where does one go to import quality tiger nuts or plantain chips that we can now pick up at our local Tesco?  Where does one start? I spent my summer in Ghana and visited an upcoming Coconut oil factory in Ada – my mother’s hometown. Coconut oil is now in everything. Where can I go to get a piece of that pie?

Business is another arena Dentaa has worked fervently in, promoting international trade. Many Ghanaians complain about huge imbalance of  imports into the country.  The GUBA Expo is a platform for small and medium business to exhibit their products and services whilst engaging with industry personal on the business growth strategies. According to the Department of International Trade, the UK is one of the largest foreign investors in Ghana. Ghana was the UK’s fifth largest export market in Sub Saharan Africa in 2014 with bilateral trade in goods and services totalling £1.05 billion. This a huge market diasporans are at liberty to take full advantage of, there is a huge opportunity for growth if Ghanaians are to overcome some of the main trade barriers between the UK and Ghana. She surmises…

GUBA-Logo-2Quality control – European product standards differ from Ghanaian/African standards. This is one of many hindrances as produce goes to waste if they fail to meet the standards. Fair pricing – there is still a huge disparity between the purchase price of products by multinational companies and the sale price imposed on these same products. The pricing needs to be fair to ensure local farmers get enough financial returns to earn a decent living. Learning more and understanding the cause and effects of these barriers is a good step in the right direction. Highlighting these issues and the opening the discussion to new entrants into international business is the way forward for us diasporans so we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. We can consider new ways of doing business that is fair whilst maintaining the quality that we are accustomed to. I also believe entrepreneurship is the future, thus, I will work to ensure that the GUBA Expo and GUBA Careers brand are internationally used to build up more entrepreneurs.

As well as promoting mutually beneficial trade practices she notes there is room for growth and development in Ghana. As Ghanaians welcome their new president Nana Akuffo Addo, Dentaa expects real changes to take place. She sees the opportunity in Ghana for change. How often do we diasporans get political in our local constituencies in the UK, let alone our hometowns? Do we even know who is running the region that your great grandmother and great grandfather lived in? Surely this is important for our future. As an experienced health professional, it’s not surprising that healthcare is at her heart.

As a nurse, the healthcare industry in Ghana needs drastic change. People are constantly dying for treatable illnesses due to lack of adequate equipment, healthcare professionals and medication. The worse affected area are the maternal wards. Lack of hospital beds, pre/postnatal care, and insufficient incubators has led to a steady rise in infant mortality. We also lack proper emergency services such as ambulances, fire services, emergency response teams and more. I am working to ensure that infant mortality is a thing of the past. The GUBA foundation is currently working on securing incubators for hospitals in Ghana so future plans are for every hospital in Ghana to have adequate equipment.

As a working mother, myself, Dentaa’s life sounds terribly fun but exhausting. If we want to make the most of being diasporans, not content with all that is here, there is a need to build and develop enterprise.  The key it seems is to have a very supportive team…

My family are very supportive of my ventures so prioritising is manageable. In situations where I have to choose family over business, my GUBA team are always on hand to help out. Time management and delegation are crucial. I have to ensure that I work within a self-allocated time for each task to enable me to have free time to deal with other things. Knowing when to delegate is essential, as important tasks are handled collectively, rather than it being left undone simply because I try to do it all. There also has to be a distinction between family time and work time, without interlacing the two.

As you consider the hard work of the double life of the diasporan – you’ve flown back and forth, you’ve sat in traffic for hours (Accra traffic is deadly if you haven’t left your home before 7am), you’ve had meeting after meeting, at some point you take the time to reflect. Am I doing what I set out to achieve? Am I making the most of all that I can do here, whilst maintaining the connections and interests back home? Well of course you are, or at least you are on your way… You have probably made a host of new alliances and building upon your plans and ideas. There’s always more to do. This is what GUBA Enterprise seeks to encourage and support. Finding your own way of improving and complimenting the lives of the community here and back home.

The recognition by members of the community you seek to serve beholds you. The GUBA Awards will continue its celebration of the achievements of Ghanaians this year in June. Nominations are now open until Sunday 29th of January so get your entries in. Anyone want to vote for me? (wink wink*)  There are so many Ghanaians doing amazing things and changing the future of Ghana so get voting! I will probably vote for my  favourite Ghanaian, my six-year-old son! 

Dentaa reminds us to love ourselves and value our achievements.

Being Ghanaian is amazing! The people, the food and the culture is simply fantastic.


To find out more about the Awards and Expo go to GUBA Awards and GUBA Expo.