Kenya's Kondele-based young entrepreneur with a golden heart for street children
About Victor Obango's business
Just about 50 metres from Kondele which was one of Kenya’s 2007 post-election violence epicenters; a hybrid of sounds of play stations and action packed movies grip the air in a cinema hall known as Geivas Maracana. During the weekends, top voice shouts reign the air summarizing the reactions of the fans in response to the results of the day’s European Barclays Premier League fixtures or in any case Gor Mahia plays.
This is a shallow description of a business run by Kenya's youthful lakeside-based entrepreneur, Victor Ogango. Whereas many people think of soccer fanaticism as a ‘disease’ that ails most Kenyan men--with fans losing their lives under suicidal circumstances--Ogango found an economic enterprise in it. It is one of the few entertainment joints that most matatu (minivan) operators find solace in after banging the vehicles and shouting the whole day.
“After I finished my form four in 2007, my mother was the only one supporting us and she didn’t have enough. I started supplying milk then I had a Kinyozi in 2010. Last year (2014) I started showing soccer matches because they are very profitable”, said Ogango.
With a hall that has the capacity of accommodating 200 to 270 people, Ogango charges 30 shillings for EPL top table clashes with high stakes such as Arsenal versus Manchester United and this looks so profitable. According to his attendant Tobias Onyango, such fixtures can yield more than 3,000 shillings in a day. He supplements this with the vintage action movies featuring the likes of Arnold Shwatzenigger and Sylvester Stallone just to keep the hall busy as he puts it.
Despite graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Egerton University, Ogango has remained glued to his businesses which he describes as dependable and having income that cannot be easily substituted.
Also hanging around his cinema hall are the young troubled street children that have been increasingly streaming into Kondele. With state of security being unpredictable because the business closes at wee hours, Ogango has established close relations with them for reasons that are hidden under the backdrop of mutual benefits for the two parties.
“I used to fear them but nowadays I sit down with them. I am reaching out to them and advising them on how they can become economically stable. They always assist me in connecting the gadgets and shifting them at night because this place is not very safe”, explained Ogango.
The movie and soccer hall provides an entertainment spot for these children. Steve Onyango, one of the street children says that due to their lack of money, they sometimes clean the hall to play games and watch movies freely besides collecting scrap metals and plastics for survival. For Peter Ayub who is a teenager, life was going to be unbearable for him after his father told him not to return home when he lost 200 shillings a couple of years ago.
Contrary to many street children that are synonymous with sniffing of gums, they are not consumers and this makes it difficult to tell their identity as street children. This may also be linked to the fact that despite their idleness, they play games all day.
Operating in a place that is faced by negative publicity due to sequential eruptions of politically-triggered violences, Victor adds that he his plan is to make his hall as neat as possible so that it does not only attract those of low social status.
Notably, his clientele base is drawn mainly from Kondele-based matatu drivers and touts and sometimes school going youth. That the hall is situated next to brothels is a blessing in disguise because clients going to the brothels make stop over at the cinema hall as scapegoat only to dash into the brothels later.
After I talked to this young man of my age, I realised that entrepreneurship is something that many young people look at as a complicated affair. The above journalistic piece is a manifestation of how some of them whose eyes have been opened have set their wheels rolling.
It requires more interventions from very many quarters to further convince more people that in the event that many economies cannot produce enough jobs, self employment is the last resort. This can start with small businesses, using learnt hands-on skills to provide services to the probable clients. For instance, freelance journalist are leading the pack as well as their law counterparts who are operating law firms.