Moyo, Yvette Jackson and Moyo, Karega Kofi
Yvette Jackson Moyo and Karega Kofi Moyo
Through the operation of their marketing firm, Yvette and Kofi Moyo stand as one of the most successful and dynamic couples of the business world. As the owners of Resource Associates International, Ltd. (RAI), the Moyos have founded numerous projects and initiatives geared toward promoting and enriching African-American businesses and opportunities. By convincing professionals from across the nation of the need for new and invigorated approaches to the previously neglected African-American market, they have made a difference in the lives of thousands of business owners, entrepreneurs, and consumers throughout the country. RAI has received the Black Enterprise award from the U.S. Postal Service and The Technology Leaders Recognition Award in addition to generating over $187 million in business for African-American companies and raising over $750,000 for charity.
Yvette Jackson Moyo was born on December 8, 1953, in Chicago, the daughter of Pauline and Rudolph Jackson. A 1974 graduate of Eastern Illinois University, she first met fellow Chicago native Kofi Moyo at the Third World Press and Institute for Postive Education in 1976. At the time, Kofi was extensively involved in the development of the Third World Press, spanning both management and volunteer positions that included graphic design, layout, book publishing, sales and marketing, economic cooperatives, and photography.
Kofi began his professional career as a photojournalist, working both for the Third World Press and the University of Chicago, in addition to acting as an independent businessman. In 1977 his skills as a photographer landed him two spots in the acclaimed exhibit hosted by the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture. Yvette, on the other hand, received a thorough indoctrination to the world of advertising and marketing that began with door-to-door ad sales that targeted neighborhood businesses in the late 1970s. She learned the ropes quickly, tripling sales revenue for Dollars & Sense Magazine, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based publication committed to social justice and economic democracy, and the Black-book Business Directory. At the age of 28, she became senior vice president and director of sales and marketing for the National Publications Sales Agency.
Though they first became acquainted in 1976, Kofi and Yvette did not meet again until 1985. They married in 1988 and their family grew to include nine children—their youngest daughter, Kevani Zelpha, died in a car accident in 1999. The Moyos launched a marketing firm, Resource Associates International, Ltd. (RAI) in 1998. Kofi had initially attempted to incorporate a cultural business collective called Resource Associates in Monrovia, Liberia during a seven-year stint in West Africa. He returned to the United States in 1984 because of political unrest.
Today, RAI stands as an industry leader in marketing services, strategic planning, conference development, event planning, and event management. RAI is best known for creating the Marketing Opportunities in Business and Entertainment (MOBE) symposium series, the leading black-owned symposium production in the country. The MOBE conference was first held in Chicago in 1992. One of the conference’s most notable
Born Yvette Jackson on December 8, 1953, in Chicago, IL; daughter of Pauline and Rudolph Jackson; born Karega Kofi Moyo in Chicago, IL; married, 1985; children: Angela Suanders, Kweli, Ki-Afi, Kilolo Shalomeet, Rael Jackson, Yosheyah, Gavriel, Kush, Kevani Zelpha (deceased). Education: Yvette: Eastern Illinois University, B.S. 1974.
Career: Yvette: Black United Fund, local convention coordinator, 1976-77; National Publications Sales Agency, account executive, 1977-79, sales manager, 1979-81, vice pres director of sales, 1981-84, sr vice pres director of sales, 1984-88; Resource Associates International, co-founder, 1988-. Kofi: Third World Press and University of Chicago, photojournalist; Research Associates, Monrovia, Liberia, until 1984; Resource Associates International, co-founder, 1988-.
Memberships: Yvette: NAACP, life member, Reciprocity Initiative Committee; Operation Push, 1987; League of Black Women, 1987; Congressman Danny Davis’s Digital Task Force; board mem, Global Girls.
Awards: Yvette: Black Achievers Awd, YMCA, 1983; Kizzy Awd, Black Women’s Hall of Fame, 1985; 100 Women to Watch, Today’s Chicago Woman 1988; Public Relations Advertising and Marketing Excellence Awd, 1998; Women in Entertainment Pioneer Awd, 2002; Top 25 Influential Women in Business, Network Journal 2002. Kofi: Dad of the Month, TJ Talk, 2001.
Address: RAI, Ltd., 6 N Michigan Ave, Ste 909, Chicago, IL 60602.
achievements has been the ability to facilitate partnerships between minority business and large corporations. Among the Fortune 500 companies that it boasts of having brokered deals with are AOL Time Warner, Ford Motor Company, Walt Disney, Nike, Sprint, Gillette, Sony, Volvo, Target, Reebok, Hewlett Packard, and many others.
Many have credited MOBE with kicking open the doors for the growth and development of African-American businesses. In November of 2001 MOBE worked with the George W. Bush administration to co-host the first ever White House Briefing on African-American Business and Technology to advocate more access to capital, economic independence, and enhanced opportunities for African-American entrepreneurs and businesses. In response, the administration pledged to maintain an ongoing dialogue with MOBE.
Yvette, an internet enthusiast, has broadened the scale of MOBE to include cyberspace as a prime business network and instrument for entrepreneurial advancement among minorities. In March of 2002 Network Journal Magazine recognized Yvette as one of its 25 Most Influential Black Women in Business, a designation reserved for those who’ve successfully pioneered the most innovative and efficient strategies in business ownership and management. She had more than exceeded the expectations placed upon her 14 years earlier when Today’s Chicago Woman featured her among its 100 Women to Watch in 1988.
MOBE hosted its tenth anniversary conference in April of 2002, where Reverend Al Sharpton, civil rights leader and advocate for economic equality, delivered the opening keynote address, discussing the inequities and opportunities in advertising and marketing and ushering a call to action for urban communities and corporate powers. The conference, however, had not always been so successful. In the early days, the Moyos struggled to put the conference on the map, attracting fewer than one hundred paid participants to the first three conferences. Soon, however, their persistence and vision paid off as they began to convince more and more marketing professionals of the need for market segmentation and the prospect of tapping the African-American market in innovative ways.
At the same time his business was taking off, Kofi began to explore opportunities to recognize and celebrate the positive values of African-American culture. Kofi identified cooking as one of the central pillars of the black community in America: “It’s the epitome of the African-American family value system. It sends a message that real men work, real men provide, real men care, and real men cook!” Kofi told TJ Talk. Thus, Kofi founded a feast called Real Men Cook for Charities in 1989, as a means to honor inner-city father figures and their contributions to the community. He planned the initial celebration with Yvette and a small group of partners as a local Father’s Day festivity in Chicago. Thanks to the charisma of Kofi, the marketing expertise of Yvette, and the diligence of both, Real Men Cook blossomed from its humble beginnings into an annual tradition that in 2001 and 2002 was held in ten cities across the United States. The event has become, according to www.realmencook.com, “the largest and longest running urban Father’s Day celebration in the country.”
Recently, the event has been placed under the control of a separate nonprofit founded by the Moyos and has distributed over $750,000 since its inception to selected agencies. As a celebration of food, music, family, and culture, Kofi has stated, that “Real Men Cook is more than just a fundraiser. It’s a crusade to build families and communities.” Beyond his affinity for culinary delights, Kofi believed it was necessary to dispel prevalent myths regarding negligent fathers in the black community and replace them with a celebration of positive role-models. He commented on www.realmencook.com, “Men get such a bad rep in the media, we seldom see the Real Men who are out there, doing a fantastic job, many times going above and beyond the call.” Kofi continued, “There are so many men throughout this country who work hard every day, who walk the kids to school, who coach kids after school, shop for the groceries, work in their churches, who take seniors back and forth to the senior’s center. We want to highlight those men. They are the Real Men who make a difference on a daily basis.”
Yvette Moyo has also offered her unique perspective on the nationwide event. She remarked on www.realmencook.com, “Real Men Cook is definitely a family affair. It’s the perfect after church outing and a terrific way to celebrate Father’s Day. Women and children can treat the special men in their lives, kids see the role models whether biological fathers, uncles, coaches or just men who feel obligated to give something back.” As an event that involves individuals from all walks of life, from teachers and preachers to politicians and plumbers, it testifies to the Moyos’ dedication to ceaselessly promote and enhance African-American history, families, businesses, and communities.
Who’s Who Among African Americans, 14th ed. Gale Group, 2001.
Chicago Sun-Times, September 17, 1993, p.50.
Ebony, June 2000.
TJ Talk, www.tyler-james.com/tjtalk
—Benjamin M. Branham
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