Teacher finds lucrative niche in team building venture

Mr Duncan Juma, the founder of Anthill Champion at his office in Nairobi on February 8, 2014. Photo/SALATON NJAU
Mr Duncan Juma, the founder of Anthill Champion at his office in Nairobi on February 8, 2014. Photo/SALATON NJAU 

Duncan Juma left class teaching for a lucrative business in team building. Mr Juma, the founder of Anthill Champion, a firm that deals in corporate team building and organising events, said he did not regret the move.

‘‘I am an alumni of Moi University where I studied literature and graduated in 2006,’’ he told the Business Daily in an interview last week in Nairobi.

Like many other fresh graduates, Mr Juma took the beaten path to formal employment which was not forthcoming. Two years after graduation luck smiled at him.

‘‘In 2008, I got a job at Faulu microfinance and was posted to Bungoma as a development finance officer, but that was not where my passion lay,’’ he said.
He stayed on the job for only two months and called it quits.

‘‘I realised that I was not cut for the job and neither was I passionate about teaching. I had got into teaching earlier because it was the first opportunity that presented itself to me after completing High School. I wanted to use both opportunities to create resources and contacts and become my own employer,’’ he said.

After a few months in the cold, Mr Juma got a job at Safaricom as a customer care representative and used the opportunity to focus on his childhood dream of starting his own enterprise.

‘‘I started by volunteering my services whenever there were induction courses at Safaricom. The company was outsourcing team building facilitators and spending nearly Sh10 million per month,’’ said Mr. Juma.

With time, the Safaricom management got impressed with his skills and started offering him opportunities whenever they held team building forums.

He volunteered his services and benefited from the skills he learned and the exposure which he later turned into a rewarding venture.

‘‘I really enjoyed every experience,’’ he said. He was earning Sh80,000 per month from his permanent job as customer care representative while his side business was generating more than his salary.

‘‘I used to facilitate team building sessions during my free time as I marketed myself as a brand. This taught me the need for patience, hard work and resilience,’’ said Mr Juma.

In the beginning it was not easy to convince companies that he was up to the job.

‘‘Those were the lowest moments of my life. I tried to prove a point but many firms were not ready to give me a chance. I am a strong believer that everyone can become better, if not the best, when given a chance,’’ said the 30 year old.

To boost his skills, Mr Juma enrolled for a course on team building at the British Council which introduced him to more clients. He resigned from Safaricom last year and ventured into entrepreneurship.

‘‘I needed to get out and realise myself. This unlocked my success and I learnt the power of planning and timely implementation of activities,’’ said Mr Juma.

Within two months after leaving Safaricom, the firm contracted him to offer team building sessions to its staff which kick-started his business.

‘‘The contract ran for two months and I pocketed Sh400,000. More referrals came my way and strengthened my client portfolio,’’ he said.

Today Mr Juma, through his firm Anthill Champion, is a powerhouse in the team building field.

So far he has rendered services to clients such as Pan African Life Insurance, Co-operative Bank, Oshwal Community, Safaricom, Christ is the Answer Ministry and Barclays Bank.

‘‘I charge my clients based on sessions the organisers want covered, the nature of the client, the number of participants and the distance of the venue’’ said Mr Juma.

He said that most of his clients are referrals and he has so far served more than 100.

‘‘There is a lot of demand for my services. A lot of money can be made if one take the business seriously, one must invest both time and research in it,’’ he said.
Mr Juma said that he has a strong team of ten.

‘‘We get our teaching materials from happening in society, we use them to refresh people’s mind. We also talk about the health/work balance.’’

Integrity and research

He cited discipline, integrity and research as some of the corner stones of success in the business.

Anthill Champion plans to launch products targeting secondary schools and institutions of higher learning.

‘‘We want to come up with a unique product that will address performance of schools based on morality,’’ he said.

Mr Juma also hosts wedding functions where he charges between Sh20,000 to Sh70,000 per session.

Quality service delivery is his greatest asset which enables him to remain significant in the competitive market, he said.

‘‘People always demand quality for their money and this should be inevitable. Losing sight of this marks the end to growth of any business,’’ he said.

He lamented that the industry had been invaded by fakes who charge peanuts and demean the business.

Locally, he said, Outdoor Africa, Edge Consults and Tanari Trust are his main competitors.