He is largely regarded as a successful entrepreneur, but few people know the grace from grass humble beginnings story of the soft-spoken Chief Executive of the leading radio stations in the country PeaceFM, OkayFM and HelloFM, who marked his fiftieth birthday on Thursday, February 2nd.
A levelheaded businessman with a very good background in music production, he is well traveled and knows the broadcasting industry like the back of his palm.
Interestingly, for one who owns a conglomerate of media houses, he is very media-shy.
Born Osei Kwame in 1962 at Agona Wiamoase in the Ashanti region, but affectionately called ‘Kwame Despite’, he started life as a petty trader, dealing in music cassettes, padlocks, feeding bottles and other merchandise at Dunkwa-Offinso.
After years of painful struggle in the village to make it in life, he joined other friends to seek greener pastures in Lagos, Nigeria.
He returned home to Ghana in 1983 with millions of other Ghanaian refugees who had been forced to flee Nigeria due to the political tension in the West African country. And guess what? He returned from Nigeria with only a chain-saw machine and a trident cassette player. He started a timber contracting business with the chain-saw machine but fate dealt a cruel hand on him when the machine was crushed by a falling tree on his first business trip.
Undeterred, he turned to his cassette selling trade until he resolved to solidify his vision to diversify his business.
To demonstrate his singular support for the local music industry which was on a rapid decline then, and also put Ghanaian culture above all else, he went into radio and established the now famous PeaceFM in 1999 at Mile 7 Junction. The station’s experimentation with the Akan language worked to perfection as radio listeners in search of local content jettisoned stations which were broadcasting only in the Queen’s language for the 104.3frequency.
No doubt PeaceFM has endeared itself to the ordinary Ghanaian by bringing information to them in their mother tongue, a language they can relate to and understand.
He also believed that the establishment of the radio station would not only educate Ghanaians, but offer an alternative channel for advertising and general marketing of goods and services.
By dint of hardwork and the Grace of God, the radio business began to thrive culminating in the setting up of Hello FM in Kumasi and OkayFM in Accra and peacefmonline.com.
Now the Despite Group of Companies (DGC) incorporated in the 1980’s with only one company, Despite Productions now Despite stores (Distributors of Audio and visuals cassette and CDs) has now evolved and is the parent company of the following: 3 commercial radio stations, U2 Company Limited (Iodated Salt Production), Neat Foods Company Limited (which produces and markets NEAT Fufu, NEAT Banku, NEAT Abenkwan, NEAT Hausa Koko, NEAT Diary Products).
The latest addition to the family is the digital television station, United Television; which is soon to test transmit.
Speaking in an “ambushed” and exclusive interview with Kwami Sefa Kayi on PeaceFM’s Kokrokoo Morning Show, Mr. Osei Kwame was full of gratitude to God for his current state of well-being considering his lowly beginnings.
“…though I had big dreams, I never knew I’ll get this far but God has made all things possible…I’m overjoyed to see my 50th birthday,” he said.
Asked who Osei Kwame really is, the gentle and unassuming CEO of the DGC described himself as a humble, quiet and a hardworking man, who does his possible best not to direct unnecessary attention to himself and also stay away from trouble. He expressed his appreciation to his family, friends and everyone who in diverse ways played a role in his life.
“Let me also laud the efforts of all my untiring workers for their commitment and dedication towards making the Despite Group of Companies a success…I want to advise the youth to persevere, work hard and never give-up…I am very careful dealing with the weak and poor because anything can happen at any moment and situations change,” he said.
Staff and management of PeaceFM, OkayFM, Hello FM, U2, Neat Foods, Despite Stores and U-TV wish Osei Kwame Despite a HAPPY 50th Birthday celebration. May the good Lord continually protect you and your family and may He shower you with good health, long life and immeasurable divine favour.