In answer to a persistent question from the host Bola Ray ‘how did you make your first $2m dollars?’, Dr. Kofi Amoah laughed, breathed in deeply, a lungful of new oxygen to refresh that history in his brains – wisdom, strategy was about to be spewed out – for free.
The highly-rated Joy FM personality profile with Bola Ray fired off on Thursday with a quote that should set any young man thinking. At least it got to me.
“20 years from now you would be disappointed in the things you didn’t do than by the ones you even did wrong”.
A profound hypothesis that was about to be tested with the profound experience from Dr. Kofi Amoah. If you didn’t know, Dr. Amoah is the accredited African partner in the US-based Western Union Money transfer business.
Western Union – a name that is looking for a place in the new urban dictionary as a synonym for money transfers just as Pepsodent is to toothpaste or OMO is to detergent.
It is because it defined the beginning of money transfers in Ghana. If you depended on it as a student, your peers in class viewed you a little more differently.
He concedes he did not come from a poor home, but he also did not have a poor work ethics neither. The ethos of hardwork was embossed firmly in him that he saw nothing wrong with shining shoes for pennies as a little boy in Kejetia, Kumasi. And he sees nothing wrong doing that now. It is as a necessary as little birds practicing flight.
They will cultivate entrepreneurial skills that few universities in Ghana can teach – that is if the lecturers are not on strike. The business mogul says, as a child, there was an intrinsic pleasure seeing his small okro farm grow behind his mothers backyard. And he would wake up in the morning to gleefully water it.
Opoku Ware Secondary School finished off where his parents left off – cementing the routine of positive behavior in him in the 60’s.
He was there on scholarship courtesy a free compulsory education –a national education policy of Ghana’s first president – Dr. Kwame Nkrumah – something he remained grateful for.
“Policy drives the success of a nation”, he reiterated and said he was deeply grateful for the people who were handling the affairs of the country at that time. A gratitude quite uncommon today in Ghana.
He completed Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KUNST) and University of California, Berkeley also on stipend from the government.
His professional experience covers Business Management, Business Development and Investment Services.
Business: How it all began
A trendy Los Angeles lifestyle was fueled by a good job, a big car, and a nice expensive apartment overlooking the aimless boundary of the sea just as his life appeared to be aimlessly tied to a then lush lifestyle.
But an epiphany struck him during one of his routine habits- shaving his beard. See how a routine can come in handy?
“One day I was shaving and for some reason I stopped and somehow I started talking to myself, Kofi Amoah if you want to make it, you gotta change your lifestyle”.
He recalled that although he was comfortable in life, a bright future could be an endangered species.
Radical changes followed – he moved out into a moderate apartment, sold his car for a smaller one and checked himself into attending motivational seminars.
While watching T.V, a man challenged him that if he wanted to start a real estate business with nothing, his seminar was best for him. He fell for it- and the breakthrough fell at his feet.
He registered for the seminar at $40 and bought books worth $1000 (pronounce it slowly) and cramped himself in his room for two weeks, poring on the books, digesting its enlightening content until after the period he walked out: the re-making of Dr. Kofi Amoah was complete.
He said within a month, he owned the storey building apartment he lived in. He re-financed it and doubled the rent for the other tenants – nobody dared to move out and they paid their rent on time.
Today one of his accolades is ‘The Donald Trump of Los Angeles’. He owns several properties there. And that is how he made his first two million dollars.
Sending money to his mum in Ghana in the 90’s was difficult. It was the proverbial farmer who was sowing his seeds. Some fell on rocky places (unreliable friends), some fell among thorns – the legendary efficiency of the Ghana Post Office.
At midnight another epiphany occurred. People in America send money from one state to another through Western Union. Why not set up one in Ghana?
The idea possessed him like a Romeo’s love for Juilet. His proposal was turned down because the New York had demonstrated that the pen was mightier than – well, his proposal. The newspaper had written a bad article about Africa on AIDS and tribal wars.” and his nice personality was not enough to convince him that Africa was good for business.
But for two months he pursed Paul, the president of the company until he acceded to his business proposal and asked him to get a bank in Africa to start
Dr. Kofi Amoah CEO, Progeny Ventures facilitated the entry of global remittance service provider, Western Union, into Africa. Western Union started its African operations from Ghana in 1995. Twelve years on, the company had expanded its operations to almost all 54 African states.
He has served as Non-Executive Director of State Insurance Co of Ghana Ltd since May 29, 2008.
He worked in the United States at Northrop, Electronic Data System (EDS), Southeast Investment Corporation Development, Elsafe Incorporated, Global One and Bear, Stearns Inc.
He is the founder and president of J.S. Investments Inc., Los Angeles, PPVI Ghana Ltd, and Progeny Aluminum and Design Ghana Ltd. He was a member of Ghana Investment Advisory Council, past member of the Ghana Football Association and Chairman of the Local Organising Committee during the Ghana 2008 tournament.
And he owns Citizen Kofi, a popular entertainment centre in Accra.
Dr. Amoah reminds us that the difference between success and failure is 24hours. It is what you commit to do everyday. It is not about money, he chides but about looking around our society to solve a problem. And it is not about starting big too.
If your business idea requires 10,000 and you have only 2000, you should work with what 2,000 can do and slowly graduate into your big idea.
His face twisted with the passion in his voice – be passionate in life, he counseled. He remembers how he had to go from church to church, restaurant to restaurant announcing to people about Western Union because he had no money to do adverts.
And without any exception, he believes every young man has all he needs already to do this 10 times bigger than he did.
Life should not be like Celine Dion’s hit-song ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’.