David Kyalo, 28, was symbolic of Kenya’s unemployment crisis after graduating from Moi University with a Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management degree in 2013.
Now he is chief executive of Afriqque Group, a company he co-owns with high school friend Cephas Gathii, 27.
They started the firm out of frustration for lack of formal employment after graduating.
Afriqque Group had a turnover of close to Sh5 million in the 2015/2016 fiscal year and the duo targets $1 million in the near future.
“We are in the process of getting investors on board by end of the first quarter of this year so that we can have a bigger marketing structure and hold bigger events,” said Mr Kyalo. “A few (potential investors) have approached us, we are vetting them.”
Since inception of the company in 2014, the duo has been organising at least three events every quarter of the year, according to Mr Kyalo.
“Our expertise is in events management, public relations (PR), marketing and information technology,” Kyalo said during an interview with Enterprise.
“Our speciality is organising corporate events. Our business booms from July to December, we organise annual general meetings, team building events and end of year parties,” said Kyalo. Their charges, he said, depend on the magnitude of the event a client wants and components chosen.
A concert ranges from Sh1 million to Sh10 million and a corporate event between Sh700,000 to Sh3 million, he said. The beginning, he said, was not a ride in the park. Kyalo grew up in Githurai 45, Nairobi, attended Mwiki Primary School and Thika High School.
“When I graduated from university and had exhausted all my savings I called my high school buddy who had graduated with a computer science and mathematics degree and didn’t have a job too. We had to think of something do,” said Mr Kyalo.
They met in Thika town and came up with the idea of starting an IT company.
“We borrowed Sh1,500 from one of his friends which we used to make some simple business cards. We couldn’t register our company, Afriqque Technologies, with the amount. We registered it nine months later,” said Mr Kyalo.
He said their first jobs back came from schools and small companies. With time they decided to diversify and ventured into events organisation.
The first big deal was with Thika Road Mall (TRM). They organised a children’s event which was well attended. However, they lost the money for failing to do proper paperwork when sealing the deal. “We were so excited about the deal and forgot about paperwork. There was no LPO or contract issued, it was just emails. We lost about Sh300,000,” said Mr Kyalo.
“Since the event was well sponsored, the marketing manager used this as a loophole and took advantage of us”
The duo almost gave up but after heart searching they decided to give it another shot and see how things would turn out.
Mr Kyalo said they agreed that if things didn’t work out they would go their separate ways and seek employment.
Months later, Mountain Mall along Thika Road was being opened and someone recommended them to the management. They got a contract to organise an event which they executed well. “This time round everything went well, we got our dues and paid our debts and decided this was the path to follow,” said Mr Kyalo.
In December 2014, The World Bank came calling. They wanted somebody who had experience in organising children’s events. “Some of the World Bank’s staff had attended our previous event and recommended us to their bosses,” said Mr Kyalo.
The World Bank event gave birth to Afriqque Group.
Since then the duo has organised four events for the World Bank and a number of companies. Other big events the duo has organised include the launch of Garden City Mall and Hass Petroleum.
They are in the process of getting investors on board and expanding.
This feature was first published in the Business Daily.