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Meet the investment fund owner creating opportunities

ON TO A GOOD THING: Rodney Appiah says he wants his actions to inspire the next generation

IT’S NOT everyday I get to talk to a founding member of an investment fund set up by young black male Christians – but that’s what I did when I spoke with Rodney Appiah.

This 34-year-old Christian is chair of Cornerstone Partners (CP), an investment fund started three years ago by six young men who wanted to project a positive image of black men, and more importantly play a part in economically empowering the black community by practically supporting business growth.

VALUE

Appiah explained: “[Cornerstone] started as a conversation about how much one would spend on their wedding or a car, but beyond those events how much real value were individuals adding to the community. We then asked, ‘Why don’t we come together and pool our capital and see what we could do as a collective?’

When the six men first pooled their money together, the total came to £30,000. Over the years, the number of people contributing to the fund has risen to 20 – 16 men and
four women – and so has the fund. It’s now worth £500,000 and there are plans to get that to £1million in 2020.

CP members come from a range of backgrounds and include investment bankers, venture capitalists, business owners, health professionals and IT contractors. But faith also plays an important role within CP. Appiah explained: “CP is fundamentally underpinned by Christian values and 10 percent of all the profits that we make from the funds go towards supporting charitable projects.”

All CP members sign to a constitution which governs the type of businesses the fund will support. The CP also runs an internship programme. “We have a number of interns who join us, whether it’s for three or six months,” Appiah explained.

“We do this because we want to empower the next generation, give them role models and show them the benefits of working collaboratively and what can be achieved.”

Next month, CP is set to start an eight week course for business owners or senior leaders keen to increase the size and generate greater revenue.

INFLUENTIAL

And CP is aiming high. Appiah shared: “We want to be the largest and most influential angel investor network focused on backing businesses either owned by or run by black professionals, anyone of black descent operating in the UK.”

Though they haven’t got there yet, CP is heading in the right direction to achieve its goals. Companies it has backed so far include an e-commerce firm selling African clothing turning over £1million, a luxury event company and a tutoring business.

When asked where he’d like CP to be in five years, Appiah. Companies it has backed so far include an e-commerce firm selling African clothing turning over £1million, a luxury event company and a tutoring business.

When asked where he’d like CP to be in five years, Appiah said: “Cornerstone’s success will ultimately rest on the impact we make in the broader community. I want people to look back and say that Cornerstone made a difference in creating real success stories of the future.

“What we want to do is create and support successful black entrepreneurs. We want to be part of that journey. We want to be part of the answer and make a contribution. I’d like to think that in the next five years we’ll be well regarded, seen as an honest broker, individuals that deal with individuals that are straight and create businesses that succeed from a commercial standpoint and have the right values.”

Visit cornerstonepartners.co.uk for more details.

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