Enterprise

How phone call set off fast growing enterprise

KATAMBE

Andrew Ngugi. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

jameskariuki-img

Summary

  • Andrew Ngugi was counting losses of his two-year investment in the travel agency business when Covid-19 struck.
  • The business hit a rocky patch. He was, however, lucky that while the pandemic closed one window, another one opened immediately.
  • His new business idea started from a phone call from a client who requested for an activity-filled outing in Watamu, Mombasa .

Andrew Ngugi was counting losses of his two-year investment in the travel agency business when Covid-19 struck. The business hit a rocky patch. He was, however, lucky that while the pandemic closed one window, another one opened immediately. His new business idea started from a phone call from a client who requested for an activity-filled outing in Watamu, Mombasa .

“I travelled to Watamu top sign partnership deals with three hotels, a boat-ride crew and a dancing troupe before travelling back to Nairobi to fulfil the bookings,” he recalls.

This was followed by more enquiries by individuals seeking activity-filled outings which saw him create a camping excursion for a youth group from a Nairobi church.

This ignited new interest in an events management enterprise that saw him inject Sh670,000 towards development of Katambe App and Katambe web portal, which show a calendar view of events that one can attend with customers assisted to secure transport, accommodation as well as tickets for the events.

Mr Ngugi’s investment paid off mid this year when he hosted a team of Italian tourists visiting Watamu for beach soccer and attended the Waka Waka cultural festival.

“The future of tourism is events filled with activities that local and foreign tourists can participate in. I am in talks with organisers of various events that will populate my calendar,” he says.

“Customers download the App for free to view events and engage us for advance bookings that could see them enjoy discounts.”

The platform earns money when organisers upload events on the calendar starting with a week-long banner at Sh3,969 followed by Sh6,895 that incorporates a week-long banner as well as a mention on the events calendar.

For events that have an option for e-ticketing, Katambe charges Sh7,845 as well as marketing services with payments received via its mobile money account and via paypal for international clients.

For hotel and events’ bookings, Katambe enjoys a three percent commission or as agreed with the client. This has ensured that he continues servicing a majority of his former client accounts through an online platform thereby reducing handling costs and giving the firm global visibility.

“Experiential tourism is the next big thing and Kenya should not lag behind. Lamu Cultural Festival, Maralal Camel Derby, Turkana Cultural Event, Bukusu Circumcision fete as well as the Maasai moran graduation ceremonies are notable events that have in the past generated global interest,” Mr Ngugi says.

“Event sport tourism, such as the national athletics are world events which if marketed properly could be a must-attend events,” he says adding that the portal creates a leeway for individuals to create their own events and market them via the portal.

Mr Ngugi, 36, says organisers must avail data on their events and partner with online event management planners to market their events.

“We have also created a fundraising portal where individuals can raise funds for medical support, funerals and wedding parties. All funds raised will be posted on their private walls next to the names of individual contributors,” says the entrepreneur.

“It is important to create transparency in raising funds that will be paid to our client account at NCBA where funds raised will only be withdrawn upon an agreement with the event owners. We have retained old clients based on trust that we built in the past.”

Mr Ngugi says special group meetings can also be organised via the App where Katambe will be tasked with choosing a venue for such events, organise transport and source for instructors for team events during the outing.