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,
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
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
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
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
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.