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William Adoasi: keeping time with God

George Luke meets entrepreneur William Adoasi, who has combined building a successful luxury watch business with funding education in sub-Saharan Africa …

William Adoasi has always had a creative streak. It shows quite clearly in the luxury watches made by Vitae London, the company William founded two years ago.

Vitae’s watches have been worn and praised by Richard Branson, Phillip Schofield, Emeli Sandé and Martin Smith. Not bad for someone who admits that he couldn’t draw when he did his GCSEs …

“I don’t know why I chose GCSE Art,” says William, “but I just realised I couldn’t draw! I prayed and thought of ways to get around the course and still do well, and I taught myself graphic design. Since then, I’ve always been able to manipulate things on computers, create what’s in my mind and bring it to life.”

William has always been passionate about both fashion and education, and with Vitae’s watches, the aim is to bring both those passions together.

“Our whole thought process is to be the fashion brand changing lives,” says William.

“Vitae is the Latin word for life. I saw that the watch industry was massive; the quartz watch industry alone is worth over 35 billion dollars worldwide. I was keen on seeing ways I could dive into this market and make a positive impact within it – and so each watch we sell helps children in Southern Africa get an education.

“My dad’s from Ghana, and he was the first in his family line to learn to read and write. Through him, I’ve seen how powerful education is in breaking cycles of poverty, and I wanted to do that for more people. Sub-Saharan Africa is the only area where poverty has actually risen within the last decade, and it’s got the highest rates of children not having primary education.

“So I’ve combined my desire to create great-looking luxury watches with my desire to change lives, and equip more children across sub-Saharan Africa with what they need to get an education.”

On the ground in Africa, William’s company works in partnership with a Christian charity called House of Wells, providing poor children with essential school items such as uniforms.

“Since we launched Vitae in December 2015, we’ve been able to distribute more than 1,100 school uniforms,” he says.

“We’ve sold our watches in 26 countries – and this is from someone who has no prior experience of running a business! Having the likes of Richard Branson and Emeli Sandé wearing our watches and showing them off on social media just highlights the grace of God, and him doing the impossible.”

William is a member of Hillsong Church, and when he isn’t working on his watch business, he can be found leading worship at Hillsong’s branch in Bermondsey, South London – not too far from Peckham and Camberwell where he grew up and where Vitae’s office is based.

“I’ve grown up in church my whole life,” he says. “My dad’s the lead pastor of a church. I went to boarding school in Stourbridge from the ages of 11 to 16, and those years were the first time my faith was tested. I was far away from home and was just seeing things for myself; not going to church on a regular basis.

“At the end of that, coming home for sixth form and college was when I fully committed my life to Jesus.

“The biggest piece of advice I could give to anyone who has a dream that seems impossible is that I honestly believe that if it’s from God, then God will equip you with all that you need. Even if it’s not directly in your hand, he will equip you with people around you, and if you just take the steps towards that dream, you’ll be able to see the actualisation of it.”    

Sales of Vitae London watches in 26 countries have funded more than 1,100 school uniforms for children in Southern Africa.

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