They say that Kenya is still a developing country where most small medium enterprises and homes prefer organizing events on their own to cut down on costs. But it is time for a rethink. A conversation with one Danson Munge, the man whose playing field for the last 15 years has been the hotel industry, helped us see the bigger picture of a new trend.
Mr Munge is the person behind Kiambu-based Bayleaf Café, and Bayleaf Events – Kenya, a company that deals with not only events but also outside catering and functions. Not since the days when he worked at Pride Inn and Hotel Mariposa has business been flying his brains. The business bug bit him in 1998 – and he has never looked back!
The hotelier has over the period spread his wings, and now offers events management as well as outside catering services. He is now eyeing countries like Somalia and South Sudan. “This business is good, there is a ready market,” Munge says with that firm and edifying tone.
“My attention was captured by the number of people who needed an events organizing company with an edge in the local and the international market and also by the fact that corporate functions, social gatherings, weddings and product launches are important,” he says.
These days, most businesses are vying for the same market share that if you don’t have good marketing tools in place, you stand to lose. Social media has totally done it for Mr Munge, a multi-cuisine chef who cut his teeth at Park Place Hotel and Training Centre. The thought of creating pages on Facebook and Twitter actually stimulated the growth of his businesses, he says, adding that as a result of the “digital” buzz, most people will go online and “inbox” him for business.
“People should look for a professional events manager otherwise you end up losing big. Events organizing company will offer you the best in terms of venue, the menu, set up… for example there will be a client seeking live band, background music or disco. So we will advise you accordingly on what to do and what not,” says Munge.
For good reason, Munge has his special school named Bayleaf Kitchens where young people are trained to become chefs. “Having reached this point I felt that I should give back to the community. It is a kitchen (Bayleaf Kitchens) within which I share my experiences (practically) to provide my students with reliable skills. So I teach them here and later on release them to the market,” he says.
Leah Midamba who runs Emerald Events has also moved to defend her market by employing unique strategies. For her, the realities in the events industry are harsh that you have to think outside the box. While working for a Kenyan gospel band as an administrator, Just a Band, her interest in events grew. “I always helped with all our concerts and I stuck around personalities who had already made it in the industry. After a while, I felt the need to have my own company.
“I have to admit that volunteerism also helped me get my name out there. I used to do community work and in return I would get my logo on the posters and fliers. That way, Emerald Events remained in people’s minds.”
At the heart of events-business are two vital things. The first is making sure that you deliver to your clients the best services and on time. Secondly, the trade game is one of passion. Event organizers thrive on getting it right with the client and with the rest of the people they employ. As your clientele grows you need to bring on board people who share the same passion. Building on this will make your competitive edge sharper in a tiny but congested market.
Ronald Ombok, a fumigation expert, sought the services of an events-organizer when his first born daughter celebrated her birthday a while back. “I had a lot of work on my plate and because time was running out I decided to hire someone to organise the bash,” says Ombok. Although he parted away with Sh30,000 which, according to him, is a good deal. The more cost effective one usually goes for Sh100,000 but the prize can shoot to Sh500,000, depending on the size and scope of the event.
The outlook for events management industry is good but things can get difficult at times. Mr Danson of Bayleaf says: “nothing comes easy. It takes God’s favour and hard work to make it in life and even those who have made it still have to work hard because there is always something new to learn and implement every day.”
BY VICTOR ADAR