- Businessman Kojo Soboh is the founder of the Ghana-based company Exclusive Men of the Year Africa Awards (EMY Africa Awards)
- The company has grown to become one of the country's distinguished awards event organisers that celebrate men of honour
- Soboh opened up about his family life, education, journey to starting the company, some challenges and the future of the company
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Born in Prestea in Ghana's Western Region, Kojo Soboh had quite an easy childhood and education due to his father's occupation as a geologist in the mines.
His father's work provided him and his family a comfortable existence, but the scion of the Soboh family would take a very different path. Young Kojo had the desire to bring people together and entertain them and this would later influence his path to becoming an entertainer and event producer.
Kojo's early life and education
Kojo's life began in Prestea where he attended the Prestea Goldfields School as a child. When his father relocated his family to the mining town of Bogoso, he was transferred to the Golden Star School. This is where Kojo discovered his passion for the arts.
'''I attended Golden Star at Bogoso, where my dad worked in the mines. I joined the drama group in junior high school,'' he said.
Despite the change of houses, their home was always filled with love and discipline. The first of five children including four boys and one girl, Kojo lived with both parents present.
''They were both disciplinarians. My mum was a teacher before she resigned and started her own business.
''My father's work allowed us to live in an affluent part of the Western Region. We lived with many expatriates/Whites, and the company ensured we received the same treatment. We were comfortable,'' he tells YEN.com.gh.
Discovering his talents in junior high school
While some kids his age had barely discovered their talents, Kojo had a fair idea of what he wanted to become.
''I've always loved bringing people together. It was something right with me from childhood. My family and I were natural leaders in the community we lived in Bogoso. I initiated ideas to organise Christmas parties.
''I was both a prefect in primary and JHS. I have always been drawn to and had the appetite for excellence because I was constantly exposed to foreign content on DSTV at an early age. So, I developed the zest to entertain and create,'' he tells YEN.com.gh.
Kojo's senior high school and tertiary education
Kojo navigated junior high school (JHS) to St Augustine's College with the help of his parents and educators. He admits that the course he took in senior high school (SHS) was influenced by his peers.
''I studied Science at SHS where I was part of the Drama, Debaters and Writers Club,'' says Kojo.
While at St Augustine's College, Kojo quickly bonded and made many friends because of his exposure to expatriates and his leadership roles before enrolling in SHS.
''People were surprised about how exposed I was because of my native birthplace."
He tells YEN.com.gh that he earned remarkable grades after he completed SHS. The initial plan was to study in the US, so he didn't apply to local schools.
''But things didn't turn out like I had hoped. So, my dad suggested the Catholic University College of Ghana. He said I should do a year while we tried to work on getting a school abroad.
''But when I enrolled, things went well. It was a good school. It was a small community because the school had just opened with many white educators. I felt it would have been the same if I had moved abroad,'' he said.
After his undergraduate degree in Information Communication Science and Technology, Kojo served as a national service personnel at the Ghana Commercial Bank. There, he realised that working in the bank was not for him.
Kojo tells YEN.com.gh that he balanced his work at the bank with music, working with the Ranna group.
''We participated in the Next Café Africa Revolution, where we emerged as part of the top five participants and got signed by the famous Ghanaian music producer Appiah Dankwah, popularly known as Appietus.
''I did music for a while, then got a job with Imagine Advertising. I juggled my work and studies for my MBA at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) and finished in 2014.''
The 7th EMY Africa Awards:
Starting EMY Africa Awards
Before Kojo quit his day job to work on his dream of becoming a business founder, he worked at Imagine Advertising as the head of events without formal training. He heavily relied on his childhood and teenage experiences.
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''My uncle owned Imagine Advertising. It began as an advertising agency. They later established the events department and I was appointed the head of events. My initial initiative was to create the The Legends & Legacy Ball (Love Ball) to honour people impacting society. It was successful and it took the company to another level.''
The first The Legends & Legacy Ball, which hosted the late Jerry John Rawlings, former president John Agyekum Kufuor and the former first lady Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, honoured legendary musician Daddy Lumba.
''The former first lady Nana Konadu and ex-president Kufuor danced and that became a hit. Then Imagine Advertising became a household name. I hosted four events and other projects as the head of events. I later worked on my exit plan to quit to start EMY Africa Awards,'' says Kojo.
Ghanaian football legend Stephen Appiah poses in the photo below:
In 2015, Kojo founded the Exclusive Men of the Year Africa Awards, known as the EMY Africa Awards, to exclusively honour and celebrate eminent men. The awards are presented annually. It is usually occasioned in the period around Father's Day.
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''I had a partner when I started EMY, so we did a lot of brainstorming. I wanted to do something that people could embrace. I wanted to do something around fathers. We realised that mothers were celebrated on Mother's Day but that wasn't the case for Father's Day.
''We started researching and the responses weren't encouraging, so we changed the narrative by celebrating responsible fathers.''
A father's role in starting EMY
Kojo credits his father's role as a parent in the decision to host the Exclusive Men of the Year Africa Awards.
''My father's role in my life was part of it. I had a good father. So, men being irresponsible was alien to me. The EMY therefore, celebrates men in various industries and crown the occassion with the Man of the Year award,'' says Kojo.
Ghanaian businessman Ibrahim Mahama wins the 2022 Man of the Year award.
EMY Africa Awards' growth and future
Since establishing the company, EMY has witnessed remarkable growth because its vision was clear from its modest beginning.
''I started from the ground with my own money. We've improved our event set-up and need for excellence. The award scheme is well structured; we have our own faculty, board and secretariat. At every level, work is being done to ensure we do a great job in our selection and presentation," said Kojo.
Despite how rosy it seems now, success was not achieved on a silver platter. Kojo tells YEN.com.gh that getting prominent people to believe in the vision was challenging, which made securing investments difficult.
Photo of Ghana's Vice-President Dr Bawumia and Kojo Soboh below:
The story, however, changed. The company has earned endorsements from several acclaimed personalities in Ghana and abroad, including boxing legend Azumah Nelson, businesspeople Ernest Ofori Sarpong, Sir Sam Jonah, Ernest Bediako Sampong, Kwame Bamfo, Togbe Afede and many great others.
The company awarded Ghanaian businessman and philanthropist Ibrahim Mahama the Man of the Year at the 2022 Exclusive Men of the Year Africa Awards (EMY Africa Awards).
The company's founder aims for the institution to reach a continental level and expand its selection to honour more men impacting society.
Singer Angélique Kidjo and Kojo Soboh below:
Businessman Osei Kwame Despite and Kojo Soboh below:
How a village boy Anthony Dzamefe moved from selling on the streets in Accra to starting a luxury watch brand
In a previous story, YEN.com.gh reported how Anthony Dzamefe's troubled journey into entrepreneurship began at an early age with his birth mother in Ho in the Volta Region of Ghana.
At the time, he barely understood what it took to start, run and maintain a business. But he knew his mother's ventures were means of survival that required his support and that of his three brothers.
The businessman is known for his charitable deeds towards people experiencing poverty in society.
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