How Sh100 and a borrowed suit birthed media empire
When she was 19, Beatrice Ndung’u secured an appointment to meet Fidel Odinga, the late son of ODM leader Raila Odinga.
She borrowed Sh100 from her father for bus fare and a suit from her mother for the meeting in Lavington, Nairobi. Ms Ndung’u was determined to get sound business advice and mentorship.
“Fidel looked me in the eye and said that in five years, I will be a force to reckon in the Kenyan media,” she recalls of the appointment with Fidel, who died in 2015.
She says the young Odinga gave her some money, which she used to begin Global Essence Media after securing and equipping an office with his help.
The outfit eventually grew to include a creative department, an online magazine and a production department that created adverts for various companies.
Today, part of her operations are in Tanzania. Her client list in the country includes celebrity Hamisa Mobetto and the family of former President Jakaya Kiwete.
“I woke up one day and decided to venture into Tanzania, and the journey has been amazing,” she says.
In Tanzania, she used social media to contact famous people consequently securing a meeting with Lemutuz, a local media personality, who introduced her to a young MP, who turned out to be Mr Ridhiwan Kikwete.
Associating with the former president’s family gave her the leverage to penetrate the Tanzanian market. Her client list grew to include Haji Manara (Simba Sports Club spokesperson), Romy Jons (Diamond Platinumz brother and official dj), award-winning actor Gabo Zigamba and Belle9.
Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority’s Consumer Consultative Council (TCRA-CCC) recently named one of her major clients, Ms Mobetto, as a Be Smart ambassador. The model turned businesswoman has in the recent past hosted several prominent events, appeared in a feature film (Zero Player) and opened her own fashion line.
A motivational speaker with a passion for the youth, Ms Ndung’u has travelled the world speaking at several forums of good repute.
Her speaking engagements include London Art Diplomacy Conference 2013, Social Media Week Lagos 2015 and United Nations Youth Forum Tanzania 2018.
She has also won the Pan African Humanitarian Award (on youth Empowerment and community building) and Pan African Humanitarian Summit and Awards 2017.
“My dream was to buy my first car by 21 and own a media house by 24, both of which I actually achieved,” she said
In 2012, she launched Sema Radio TV as part of her Young Media Foundation created for the youth to express and grow their media skills. Her marketing and PR agency went on to grow, working with several hotels in Mombasa and celebrities like Susan Owio and Sauti Sol.
Now in her early 30’s, Ms Ndung’u continues to seek new frontiers to conquer. Her dream is to grow into a fully-fledged pan African agency with clients across the continent. Plans are under way to start to a new radio station in Tanzania where she continues to grow her clientele.
Ndung’u is now helping Kenyan stars break into the Tanzanian market. She recently organised Mercy Masika’s media tour in Tanzania, where she also did a live recording in Dar es Salaam.
“As Kenyans, we really need to appreciate our own. At least for me, I was already successful when I was in Kenya, but the likes of Lupita get more love outside the country than at home.”
This article was first published in the print edition of the Saturday Nation.