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Enterprise

How events entrepreneur is weathering Covid-19 storms

Extra Dimensions CEO Wambui Njoora
Extra Dimensions CEO Wambui Njoora. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG 

Wambui Njoora began the year with a back-to-back schedule for corporate meetings. Her enterprise was tasked with providing tents, seats and sound systems for various events across the country.

This year was also a special one for the executive director and founder of Extra Dimensions as it marked her 20th year in the business of planning and overseeing promotional events for corporate clients among them, Safaricom #ticker:SCOM and KCB Group #ticker:KCB.

It was a hype of activity for her, which meant business was looking up: “You marshal all energies, take loans and hire new expertise to boost your ability to deliver on every new contract. It goes late into the night and at times the weather adds a twist that demands you improvise to ensure success of an event,” she recalls.

All was going well until Kenya registered its first Covid-19 case in March. Her world came tumbling down as planned events were cancelled. With pandemic restrictions beginning to bite, she cancelled a number of contracts as no events would be held as the country enforced measures to deal with the pandemic.

“Covid-19 was a sudden flat slap on my face that ushered us into total darkness. All contracts fizzled out and I was left with empty promissory notes,” she says.

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She immediately recalled her staff from upcountry and closed down her four godowns for a thorough stock check.

“During a crisis, look at items you can dispose to free up cash and also release space that you no longer need. That means more savings in matters security, rent as well as new revenue,” she says.

Ms Njoora had enjoyed a 20-year good run since she quit her secretarial job at Heritage Bank, then under receivership. But Covid-19 was a major challenge that brought the toughest of challenges she had faced when she plunged herself into the business world.

Registering one success after another in the two decades in business belies the fact that she entered into events management by chance. Her sister asked her to take over a Sh100,000 events business from her, due to pressure of work. And just like that Ms Njoora was set on a journey that would see her build a Sh4 million enterprise in four years.

Her major breakthrough came when she successfully managed Safaricom’s event of opening its headquarters. This was followed by numerous marketing and promotional events across the country.

And new business ideas kept coming her way. When she partnered with a US renewable energy firm to solve her own energy problems, She obtained a brilliant idea which she marketed to Safaricom. This saw her start a new line of solar and wind power unit within her business,

“When you build trust with a customer, suggest to them solutions to various things they do,” she adds.

When Safaricom introduced a supplier-women in business initiative, Ms Njoora was among group of women who were trained on laying fibre optic cable which led to her constituting a new team to handle new subcontracts.

“Each new opportunity is a new challenge and comes at a cost. I had to move fast and engage building owners on the need to connect their premises to fibre internet connectivity. This is the future and companies want offices that are internet-ready,” she adds.

Extra Dimensions also delved into selling Safaricom products which Ms Njoora says helped cement her value as a business partner with Safaricom.

“You must be your partner’s ambassador everywhere you go. Opportunities for Safaricom meant business to us and that means being flexible when opportunities beckon,” she says.

And with Covid-19 came higher demand for internet connectivity which saw her re-skilli her staff to handle new contracts.

Ms Njoora also delved into making personal protective equipment that she supplied to traditional clients which she says helped her retain most of her employees.

“I speak to women all the time and I have discovered opportunities abound even in the darkest of eras. We are now making re-usable cotton masks that we brand to suit a client’s needs. Our workers who ride motorcycles to various premises also don masks all the time,” she says.

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