Latest posts by Njeri Mwangi (see all)
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- Kenya’s Radio and TV Host Who Triples up as an Entrepreneur - October 4, 2017
He is a Radio and TV Presenter, Producer, Social Media Influencer, Entrepreneur and a Mentor, Jeff Kuria is his name. He has been in entrepreneurship for the last 11 years doing what he loves the most, entertainment.
His journey into entrepreneurship started at a young age. Back in the days, he would help his grandparents run their businesses. His grandfather ran a small café near their home. His grandmother on the other hand was selling vegetables in both Gikomba and Kibera’s Toi market.
Unknown to him, he was already learning important lessons about profits and losses. It was during this period that he got to know how to handle customers both young and old. With time,Kuria began going to the market on his own, something that made him feel motivated.
One day, Kuria spoke to his grandmother about his intentions to plant some crops.
“Thankfully, she gave me a small piece of land where I planted sukuma wiki (kales), lettuce and kienyeji vegetables”
Before they could all mature, Kuria started selling fruits such as plums, guavas and pears near their home. This he did because these fruits did not need a lot of capital.
“I used the few hundreds of shillings I had saved to start my fruits business”
Launching Into Entrepreneurship
As a young boy doing his usual rounds, one day he sat next to a man who was reading a book. It was a small book titled ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’.
“I thought it was interesting after peeping and seeing some few lines.” He narrates.
At that moment, Kuria decided that he would buy that book. This became his main goal as he formally got into entrepreneurship. He wanted to be a successful man like one of his neighbours then (Ithe wa Philip).
True to his words, he did buy the book on a Sunday at a place known as Nderi. His life did not remain the same; the book transformed him for the best.
Growing the young boss
Kuria would sell his commodities during weekends and school holidays. It was for him an amazing experience. Learning how to do things on his own and even purchasing ‘The Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ was an accomplishment.
“I forever remain thankful to my grandparents and my uncles for letting me learn this at a young age”
After college, Kuria or JK as others know him, ventured into so many businesses. He would sell second hand clothes (mitumbas), charcoal, paraffin, music and movies in River Road and even do farming and at one point, the matatu business.
Kuria always loved acting and he would go to the Kenya National Theatre to perform.
Establishment and Redefining
Kuria registered his first business in 2005 but the business did not excel. He discovered that he did not have enough exposure. He decided to abandon his myriads of businesses to pursue his Master of Ceremony (MC) talent and Radio Career.
“I would MC in events for free and sometimes for a small fee just to survive. This is something I was already doing in church and in school I was not struggling with it.”
He identified Magomano, Simba Centre, Abbey hotel and Emmacra as his main areas of interest. By the year 2006, Kuria had done his research and realized that there was need for MCs.
For him, there were so many events that availed an opportunity for him. These ranged from weddings, VCD launches, dowry negotiations (ruracios) yet there were not so many MCs.
“I wanted to be different and professional to take the industry to the next level.”
One day the young man was invited for an event at Kiambu Municipal Grounds. It was a UNICEF event by a friend of his, Inspecta Polisar a gospel artist. The artist had big dreams of becoming a famous and respected in his area.
He was scheduled to meet the main event organizer. The organizer happened to be the late Big Kev. Meeting Big Kev opened his eyes wider.
“This gentleman was well learned, smartly dressed and was driving a black Mercedes Benz.”
The event was so big. Most of the main players in the entertainment industry were present; Deux Vultures, Alexx, Nonini, Amani, Wahu and Nameless.
“I sat with these guys at the VVIP Lounge and it was amazing. From everything I experienced, now more than ever I knew I wanted to be like Big Kev.”
After the event, Kuria spoke to Big Kev about the event. This interaction provided him with a few tips about running events.
The Hatch of Better Business
After the event, he got the motivation he needed . Kuria started talking to his potential clients. It is from these people that he began getting jobs here and there though people were a bit skeptical about him. Anyhow, he was already gaining confidence.
In 2007, he was invited for an event in Kiambu Town as an MC. The host told him that she already had her own sound system.
“I tried convincing her that I could bring the system that I could easily connect with as an MC, but she had already made up her mind.”
When the D-day came, the whole thing flopped. The attendants were really disappointed. The event did not go well as there was no chemistry between the MC and the DJ.
The sound was awful. Before the event ended an old lady approached him. She was around 70 years old. She expressed disappointment with the team.
According to her, Kuria and the team had made a bad choice of music. We had performed below her expectations.
“There was no way I could have defended my actions or that of the team.”
The disappointment at the event was a wakeup call for our entrepreneur.
“I went home, sat down and wrote a list of things I needed for proper and quality sound. I bought 3 full range speakers, a powered mixer, microphones and a laptop and since then I have never looked back.”
Kuria’s company, Reel Time Entertainment was registered as a business in 2008. Later on, he did register 3 other companies; Beacon, Hafla Entertainment, Hafla Events and Hafla Company Limited.
Kuria has tried all kinds of things to make his business visible. This he does so as to make money so that he can buy his ultimate dream car, the Mercedes Benz.
He nourishes himself as an entrepreneur by attending seminars, conferences and workshops religiously just to learn how to sell and sharpen his skills.
“I have spoken to so many entrepreneurs and competitors just to learn the art of making it in business.”
Kuria acknowledges that it has not been a smooth journey, especially with identifying a good team to work with. Marketing his services and customers paying for the services takes a lot of work.
“I have learnt to stop chasing money because I got very disappointed. I have learnt to do the job first to the fulfillment of my clients then money will follow.”
He advises the youth to follow their heart and guts .It is unwise to always execute everything you are told or read in books or journals.
“I have read a lot of books and listened to so many audio tapes to just try and see whether I will break even.”
He tells us that there is a time he could have given up since he felt there was no growth. Kuria has suffered losses due to improper book keeping to a point where his office was almost closed. His monthly salary from his employer saved him a great deal then.
“One thing I have learnt is to never give up because whatever it is, I always learn a thing or two.
Get a Mentor! Practice how to sell your business, solve people’s problem. Please note that in entrepreneurship you are the vision carrier. Plan, Pray and Wait.