Angela Mumbi had hardly settled back in Kenya after a 13-year working and studying stint in the United Kingdom when she received a call from a long-time friend who was planning to hold a trade fair in Nairobi.
The management, finance and law graduate was tasked with organising the week-long event sometime in early 2015. Ms Mumbi, 35, moved from office to office seeking sponsors, participants, exhibitors, camera people and social media marketers.
She noticed something during this scouting period — it was not easy to contact different professionals in the events planning industry through one portal; everybody did their thing independently with little care for collaboration.
Ms Mumbi decided to set up a website and encouraged those she met and worked with to furnish her with their contacts and profiles for them to be posted online.
“I worked with several event organisers who helped me find banner-makers, advertising agents, photographers, hotel and cab bookings as well as ushers and private security for my event,” she told Enterprise during an interview last week.
“The event was successful. I went home with a small profit since I shared most of my lot with more established event organisers,” she recalls, adding that she also served as the photographer for the event. Seeing that she had stumbled on a profitable and exciting venture, Ms Mumbi decided to drop her bid to become a commercial lawyer and concentrate on planning conferences.
She leased a shared office in Nairobi to serve her online clients.
“Unlike in the UK where social media is big business, I found an unserved market in Kenya where I was also hired to tweet and post short messages and pictures of ongoing events,” she said.
In 2015, Ms Mumbi won contracts to assemble small teams and prepare pre-meeting briefs and provide post-meeting reviews as demanded by the organisers.
Lessons from these meetings have proved beneficial. She realised that despite getting jobs, most companies and foreign investors preferred to deal with registered companies.
This saw her to found Mkutano Business Events and Travel. The company was registered in November 2015. The decision has proved beneficial since Kenya has over the past years been at the centre of several high profile business meetings with Nairobi being the preferred destination. Last year, Mkutano Business came of age as it was contracted to help organise several conferences and events in the city. These included the China Trade Week which saw more than 400 Chinese companies showcase their products at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC).
Commercial sectors represented at the event included building and construction, lighting, machinery, consumer electronics, energy, auto parts, furniture, home electronics, kitchen and bathroom, textiles, stationery and jewellery. Ms Mumbi was also involved in organising the 2016 Social Media Week. She also played a major role in organising the Ease of Doing Business Summit, the brainchild of the East Africa Business Council.
She also organised the 2016 Sustainability Expo, the Microinsurance Africa conference as well as the Food and Beverage Show.
“I earned a turnover of Sh2 million last year and I am sure with many meetings planned for 2017, I might employ fulltime staff to handle various chores instead of the current practice where I use casual staff whose contracts end when a meeting closes,” she said. “Kenya needs to invest more in conferencing events by building bigger facilities across the country.”