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Ghanaians are renowned for putting together some of the world’s most vibrant, uplifting community celebrations. However, with the rise of COVID-19, they were forced to adapt, moving social gatherings, rituals, and concerts to the online world. Johannes Ofori, Founder of Jobo Lights and Sets LTD (Jobo LS), has been a hidden yet sparkling star for many of these events – especially for the superb choreography ‘Explosion of Joy.’
What Johannes used to do is delighting event attendees with an immersive light and sound design on stage. When the pandemic hit, Johannes shifted his efforts to streaming performances live to be able to reach a broader audience and bring the same inspiring, positive spirit to people at their homes in Ghana and around the world.
Johannes also participated in the first part of our Empowering Entrepreneurship Initiative – which supported over 300 businesses to date in emerging markets, including Ghana. In July, following his graduation from the Empowering Entrepreneurship Initiative’s COVID-19 Relief Program, he shared with us highlights of his journey, how his Jobo LS started, adapted, and grew in times of crisis.
How did you begin Jobo LS?
I started in 2013, on-campus at university, doing lights for various events. All my friends called me to light their ceremonies and church gatherings. Also, their parents hired me to design the lights on their business occasions like product launch events and campaigns.
In the same year, during Joyful Way‘s annual “Explosion of Joy” event, as a member, I was assigned to the lighting desk at the National Theatre of Ghana, where the event took place. I found so much joy in being able to illuminate the stage with colors. I was able to get the position because my sister had given me four light fixtures that I would rent out back in university. That is how it all started. Then in 2015, I registered the business.
What was your first milestone?
My first milestone was my 2013 Explosion of Joy lighting experience. For me, it was incredibly humbling; if I made a mistake, all lights might go off – especially that ever since I was born, I’ve been passionate about ‘Explosion of Joy’ and a big fan of its group. That even my choice of the secondary school was because that group was available in the same school. So it was very humbling to find myself, after so many years, responsible for 45 minutes of this spiritual event, handling all the light designs in the auditorium.
How did the pandemic affect your business? How does your outlook about the future of your business differ between now and February 2020? And how did you adapt?
Our business has over the years grown from only lighting services to providing event venues with technical support, sets, and equipment. Before the pandemic, we didn’t stream any of the events in our programs to the internet. We were still catering to the mainstream form only.
However, we always had a vision for a venue facility for events to bring them online and engage a wider audience.
As of January of 2020, we saw the impact of the crisis around the world unravel and started taking steps to brace ourselves. We cut down on equipment purchases and educated our staff on savings. Our major focus was on converting our property into a multipurpose studio.
Also, by joining the Empowering Entrepreneurship Initiative, we were able to finalize the studio. The funding support enabled us to get a high-end camera, instruments, and sound console. The mentoring and training sessions helped us know what we need to do, as leaders, to communicate better with people working with us. Now we can host virtual concerts – safely, and most importantly, at a more affordable rate for our clients. For the ‘Explosion of Joy 2020’, we were able to bring 4000 people on the live stream, along with 700 in-house attendees – with all the proper precautions in place.
I can say that – once we were able to overcome and persevere through the initial onset of the crisis – the conditions of the pandemic enabled us to accelerate our progress towards this goal, as it has given us the time and opportunity to dip our feet into the industry, and we got to address the challenges created by its restrictions. We’re lucky to have been able to continue doing what we do and bring some joy, relief and a sense of normalcy to the audience in their homes as we all push forward through the crisis.
What advice would you share with young entrepreneurs wanting to start a business amidst the current crisis?
Always make room for your team to contribute. As an entrepreneur, what you’re passionate about is what makes you special. And whatever you are passionate about: There is a market for that, find it! However, you need some business sense too.
If you’re looking for someone to support your event production in Ghana and provide technology support in registration and, live streaming, sound & video works, lighting, studio productions, you can reach Johannes on Instagram @JoboLS and @Jobo_Studios or call +233-54 071 6209.