Creating animations for children’s games is no child’s play.
Indeed, it can be one way for a young business to play its way into the big league.
That is exactly what happened to Gatumia Gatumia of RECON-Digital, a company that specialises in animations for children’s games and for TV advertisements.
Mr Gatumia’s idea was rated as the best overall in the Enablis Business Launchpad competition, earning him Sh500,000. He was also rated as the best in the ICT category, underlining the importance of the digital frontier as an avenue for business growth and wealth creation for youthful entrepreneurs.
The sponsors of the competition, now in its third year, are keen on mentoring the small businesses to grow into big ventures that will create more jobs and tax revenues. The annual competition seeks to promote the growth of small businesses in Kenya by helping budding entrepreneurs sharpen their business skills and access credit for expansion.
The partners in the initiative include Enablis, Chase Bank, the Business Daily, the Safaricom Foundation, Inoorero University, MobiKash, the ICT Board and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The top nine winners were drawn from various economic sectors and parts of the country and received cash awards of between Sh100,000 and Sh500,000 for their impressive business plans and innovative ideas.
“There is still far too little African animation out there and though it is an uphill task, we are working hard to build a profitable business that will play a part in bringing African animation to the world,” Mr Gatumia said after winning this year’s competition.
“We believe that many people all over the world would really enjoy seeing well-made animation products that tell African stories featuring African characters.”
Mr Gatumia studied animation at a Canadian university and tried his hands at various businesses before focusing on animations for television, multimedia and Internet-based advertising in 2003 with the support of an angel investor whose capital helped him buy expensive original software.
His firm records an annual revenue of Sh3 million working for clients such as Telkom Kenya, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Access Leo Burnett.
The youngest entrepreneur award went to Ian Ngugi, a 22-year old who is set to start a branding business focusing on public transport vehicles (matatus) which are the chief transport means for millions of Kenyans.
His business plan earned him a cash award of Sh500,000.
Kenneth Mitambo had the most innovative business plan as he unveiled the design of a stove that could be used for cooking and lighting, earning him Sh100,000. His business is aimed at providing energy solutions to millions of low-income rural and urban households which typically spend an average of seven per cent of their earnings on energy.
Valentine Odhiambo won in the green and eco-friendly business category, taking a cash award of Sh500,000.
His Kisumu-based firm recycles non-biodegradable plastic waste from households, in effect reducing the negative impact of such waste on the environment.
More entrepreneurs are venturing into the green business, especially plastic waste recycling that has seen, for instance, the production of plastic fencing poles from garbage.
The polls, besides being long-lasting, also reduce the need to cut down trees to provide fencing materials.
Ms Lizzie Kanyua won in the arts, sport and recreation category for her boutique hotel in Kiambu.
She, too, took home Sh500,000. Boutique hotels differentiate themselves from larger branded hotels by providing personalised accommodation and services.
They usually are considerably smaller than mainstream hotels, often ranging from three to 50 guest rooms.The Sh500,000 cash award for agribusiness venture went to Eric Muthomi, who is based in Meru.
Mr Muthomi’s firm mills dried bananas and packages the flour that is used to prepare nutritious porridge and ugali.
Oscar Kimani won in the media, marketing and communication category for his plans to launch a business magazine called Business Mind in the short term, taking home a cash prize of Sh500,000.
Mr Kimani has been a contributor to thr Daily Nation, a sister publication of Business Daily.
The construction and manufacturing category was won by Wangari Tabitha whose Olkejuado-based firm manufactures organic soap.
Paul Mwaniki, a proprietor of a medical centre in Kileleshwa Nairobi won Sh200,000 after emerging tops in the business and professional services category.
All the top 100 winners in the competition got a free Chase Bank account credited with Sh5,000 each.
Organisers of the annual business plan competition hope to use it to mentor start-ups who faced myriad challenges in their formative years.
Top among these challenges include lack of planning and capital for kick-starting the business or expanding it to meet more demand.