Not long ago, Kola Braimah made multiple daily visits to courts and police stations. An arrest after the other, lawsuit after lawsuit, turned his life upside down.
Half the time, he was trying to recover money owed to Speedyfunds, the erstwhile microfinance institution he established. The other half, he was defending himself from lawsuits and accusations from depositors and creditors.
Kola had set up Speedyfunds with a value proposition around superior systems, ruthless controls and an intimate understanding of the customer. His 20 years of banking – first in operations and then as head of UBA’s commercial banking unit, had armed him with all the tools he needed. Or so he thought.
But he hadn’t anticipated the fallout from the global financial crisis of 2008 and the havoc it would wreak on his infant business: Businesses that had taken loans could not pay back. Speedyfunds suffered a liquidity crash, unable to pay back its investors, depositors and creditors. Nine months and over one million dollars later, he closed shop, his entrepreneurship dream deferred.
Those were unimaginably stressful periods for Kola. “I had all sorts of emotional, mental, spiritual and physical issues. My stressful experience with Speedyfunds failing aside, I came to learn the extra stress of being accused as a thief, which I was not, and of somebody who was trying to catch a thief. It was a bundle of distress, you can imagine,” he recounts when we meet at his facility, the LifeWellness Center at Spintex, Accra. The health crisis he suffered led him to a naturopath who in turn helped Kola dramatically turn round his life.
Naturopathy, the system of medicine based on the healing power of nature, came to him at a time when orthodox medicine had been of little help in curing his crises. Indeed, he tells me that naturopathy’s holistic focus on treating ailments by understanding the body, mind and spirit of a patient was about the only way to mend the broken man. He made a quick recovery, and made the decision to extend the goodness to as many people as possible.
Partnering with a naturopath, Kola set up a holistic wellness business. “We called it New Hope; new hope for me personally and new hope towards my own sense of discovery”.
That business too failed. “We had to rethink the model. It was well ahead of its time,” he explains.
Two failed businesses in quick succession however couldn’t stop Kola. If anything, it strengthened his resolve to succeed in achieving his childhood ambition of being his own boss. Two years ago, with the support of his elder sister Empress Muyi Braimah, he started the LifeWellness Center, to make a better attempt at bringing the powerful healing of naturopathy to people seeking alternative healthcare. He employs the services of a dozen consultant practitioners, with a combined experience of over two hundred years, providing services that range from energy medicine such as pranic healing, crystal healing, chakral healing, shiatsu, acupressure, therapeutic massage, yoga, to wholistic nutrition and herbalism.
Consequentially, Kola – now a vegan for the past four years – has also become a practitioner in his own right, training under some of the best practitioners going as far as Columbus, Ohio, USA to acquire the knowledge that would make him a practitioner.
“We deal in physical, emotional, mental and spiritual therapies. Our specialty lies in weight management, stress management, pain management and emotional mental therapies. These four cover all the health conditions that anybody might have,” he tells me.
His personal experiences dealing with stress means his solutions are not the ‘arm chair’ sort, something his clients truly value.
Admittedly, Kola is a long way from the entrepreneur he always wanted to be. But he’s certainly on his way to fulfilling his mission to deliver fitness to anyone who comes asking.
More important though, he’s at peace with himself. Plus he is one of the few previously overweight individuals I have met, who have been able to lose weight significantly and keep it off – all with his own remedies of course! For most of his banking career, Kola was rotund, his 5 feet 6 inches frame struggling with over 110 kilos. Today, he is svelte, at 79 kilos and a picture of wellness and peace. The key, Kola says are the ‘six doctors’: “gravitate towards plant based food for nutrition; manage stress; get a lot of sunshine; clean air; hydrate and exercise regularly; and always enjoy good quality sleep”.
For Kola, everything makes better sense now. All the difficulty from the years before, had to be, so he could “discover his true life purpose and fulfil it.” Since he discovered it, life and business haven’t been the same.
Now he is on a mission to bring this relief and wellness to the rest of the land. And there is no stopping him.
The writer is author of Kuenyehia On Entrepreneurship,Chairman of ENSAfrica│Ghana and Corporate Executive in Residence at the University of Ghana Business School. Follow him on twitter @elikemkuenyehia.