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Ken Ofori-Atta receives the prestigious John Jay Award

Accra, March 16, Ghanadot - Ken Ofori-Atta, the Executive Chairman and Co-founder of Databank Financial Services Ltd, has been awarded the prestigious John Jay Award, which is presented to alumni of Columbia College “for distinguished professional achievement.”

This makes him the first African-born to receive the John Jay Award.

The award, according to the citation, is in “recognition of [his] work in building the investment banking industry in Ghana and [his] commitment to a new generation of African leaders and entrepreneurs.”

This comes a year after the head of Databank was made a Donaldson Fellow by the Yale School of Management, where he earned an MBA in 1988.

Four years earlier, he graduated from Columbia University with a bachelor’s in economics, after which he worked with Morgan Stanley on Wall Street.


Mr. Ofori-Atta was among five recipients of the award ceremony, which took place in New York City on Wednesday, March 2.

The other recipients were the renowned scholar and Ambassador of Israel to the United States, Prof. Michael Oren (who graduated in 1977), and Andrew Barth (’83), Chairman of the Capital International Limited, which is part of the $1.2 trillion assets management firm, Capital Group.

The others were Alexander Navab (’87), a partner of the $60 billion global investment management firm, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., and outstanding journalist and writer, Elizabeth Rubin (’87), who remarkably covered the war in Afghanistan while pregnant.

The black-tie dinner was attended by approximately 600 at Cipriani, 42nd Street in New York.

Mr Ofori-Atta’s citation referred to how he turned away from a lucrative career on Wall Street with Salomon Brothers to return to Ghana in 1990 to co-found Databank with seed money of $25,000.

Today, it is a leading investment banking firm in Ghana. Databank is currently mandated to manage the only private equity SME agriculture fund for Africa.

The company has offices in the Gambia and Liberia, and also manages the very successful Pan-African Equity Mutual Fund, the EPACK, which started with five investors and now has more than 80,000 in investors.

Databank co-managed Ghana’s highly successful maiden sovereign bond issue of $750 million in 2007, which was thrice over-subscribed. That same year, Databank was adjudged the Best Research Team and Investment Manager in Africa by Africa Investor.

Mr. Ofori-Atta is also the Chairman of Trust Bank in the Gambia and International Bank in Liberia.

Mr. Ofori-Atta’s achievements as an outstanding entrepreneur are globally recognised. In 1998, the World Economic Forum of Davos honored him as a Global Leader of Tomorrow.

In 2000, he was named the first African fellow of the Aspen Institute’s Henry Crown Leadership Program. The following year, he co-founded the African Leadership Initiative.

Mr. Ofori-Atta’s constructive patriotism is even acknowledged on the website of Yale, which quotes him as saying his education there gave him “the courage to return to Ghana after a career on Wall Street to participate in nation building.”

The John Jay Award citation also acknowledged Mr Ofori-Atta’s strong interest in education. He is a member of Yale’s President’s Council on International Activities.

He serves on the boards of the New York University in Ghana, the Central University College and the incubating University College of Agriculture and Environment in Bunso.

He is also the Chairman of the College of Agriculture and Consumer Science of the University of Ghana.

John Jay Scholars are offered the opportunity to participate in special programs such as panels, discussions and presentations by leading professors and professionals, all designed to promote three goals: intellectual growth, leadership development and global awareness.

The event, which concluded with renditions of Sans Souci and Roar, Lion, Roar by the Clefhangers, is named after America’s founding father and first secretary of the Treasury, John Jay (Class of 1764). The John Jay Awards have been presented annually since 1979.

Among the chairpersons at the John Jay Award dinner included the tycoons Robert Kraft, Henry Kravis, Jennifer and Marc Lipschultz, David and Kyra Barry and the journalist, Christiane Amanpour.

Among the benefactors were Nomura, Goldman Sachs, KPMG, Credit Suisse, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deloitte, KKR, J P Morgan, Wells Fargo and Ernst & Young.













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Ken Ofori-Atta receives the prestigious John Jay Award

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