What you need to know:
- The start-up offers assorted tents, chairs, public address systems, event decorations, videography, photography and catering services for social and corporate events.
- Until last year, Winnie Mukosi was among a vibrant community of “spanners”, an industry name for youth who run social media accounts on behalf of politicians.
Around this time last year, Winnie Mukosi ventured into entrepreneurship after abandoning blogging for politicians.
As she marks the first anniversary of her event planning and management business, the youthful Ms Mukosi is over the moon as this has turned out to be one of the best decisions in her life.
Her new venture has quickly made a mark in an industry dominated by established brands.
Trading as Winkz Events, Ms Mukosi has become a household name in event management in Kitui, Machakos and Makueni counties.
The start-up offers assorted tents, chairs, public address systems, event decorations, videography, photography and catering services for social and corporate events.
“We saw an opportunity in the provision of high-quality event management services and moved swiftly to fill the void. That is how Winkz Events was born. It was supposed to be a side hustle but it has since become the main hustle. So far, the journey in entrepreneurship has been fulfilling,” Ms Mukosi told Powering SMEs.
The entrepreneurship idea was born before the last General Election. Until then, she was among a vibrant community of “spanners”, an industry name for youth who run social media accounts on behalf of politicians.
She says she needed to wean herself of the growing toxicity of the political landscape.
Ms Mukosi’s attention was drawn to what she calls a “nagging advertisement” for an online course in event planning and management which kept popping up on her phone.
She enrolled for the course which took a month to complete.
“I had zero interest in events. I just wanted to divert my attention from politics. By the end of the course, I realised planning and managing events is an opportunity I could venture into and do it professionally," Ms Mukosi recounted.
"By the time we were going to the polls in August I had acquired basic skills in planning and managing small events. My eyes were on the inherent business opportunities,” she said.
Armed with the skills, Ms Mukosi started “spamming” friends and relatives looking for business opportunities. She landed her first gig a year ago - a traditional wedding ceremony.
This is how Ms Mukosi bade farewell to “spannering”, something she had done since her graduation from Moi University in 2014 where she studied business management.
“From my experience, it is difficult to progress in life as a spanner because much of the work emerges during a crisis or the electioneering period,” she said.
But she still keeps her “spanner” community close. Her former colleagues and clients have been her support system.
"Most of the referrals come from the people we interacted with in my previous job," she said, reflecting on her journey in business.
Ms Mukosi relies on social media to market the business and research new trends.
That is how she has adopted African-themed decorations as her signature for events. The business has employed three young people permanently. She hires more on a need-to-need basis.
Time management, according to Ms Mukosi, is one of the most common pitfalls in event planning.
“You need to set an estimated budget. The budget should be more of what you have than what you expect to collect from others. At the same time, those organising events should source service providers in good time. Your budget should be your guiding torch when picking the various service providers," she said.
After selecting the service providers, be very specific on what you expect from each of them. You need to clearly know the type and number of people expected at the event. This will inform on the number and type of tents required, the number and type of chairs required, the sitting arrangement and the kind of music required,” she added.
Whereas event organisers need an idea of what their events should entail, Ms Mukosi has learned that most are green. In such cases, she rises to the occasion and walks the entire event planning journey with the client. She banks on her creativity to keep the business afloat.
“Each event offers a unique learning experience. When we started I did not know I could handle corporate events. I thought they were a forte of the big players in the industry. Today, we do all types of events with impressive outcomes. Sometimes, I get overwhelmed by the bookings,” she said.
When she cannot serve all her clients, Ms Mukosi refers them to other service providers.
The most prominent client Winkz Events has served is Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Penninah Malonza, who was in Makueni County to launch the documentation and digitisation of indigenous knowledge.
Ms Mukosi also supplied tents to most exhibitors during the first-ever mango conference organised jointly by the Agriculture and Food Authority and Makueni County government at Wote Town in May.
Over time, she has established that the most promising market is Ndwae Ngone Mwaitu, a new ceremony celebrating motherhood. The pompous and colourful ceremony, which starts with aggressive fundraising, has taken Ukambani by storm.
In the coming years, Ms Mukosi plans to spread her wings beyond Ukambani.