Mburu Wilfred a creative director of FreDex branding solutions at his working stations in River-road. (Photo: Edward Kiplimo/Standard)
As the door closes on party nominations, most small and medium-sized businesses in downtown Nairobi have little to complain about. Many did booming business during the nominations.
It is close to midday and Wilfred Mburu, who is a Creative Director at FedEx Branding Solutions, is having a relaxed day. A senior Jubilee aspirant has just phoned him to remove the brandings on his vehicle because he has lost the nominations.
Mburu concedes that he has made some good money, but would not say how much, in the just-ended nomination exercise.
“We have had an overflow of clients and good cash flow since January. I can say that the period has been good because initially we survived on orders from schools after the teachers’ strike for two months,” says Buru.
He adds that business-wise, 2017 has been much better than 2013. Expenditure by the political aspirants has tripled compared to the last exercise.
“Now you can see MCA aspirants making banners and branding their vehicles, which was not the case during the last election where only presidential aspirants had billboards,” Mburu adds.
Women aspirants have been cited as less flagrant spenders by the printers compared to their male counterparts. A sample case is where only a handful of aspirants gunning for the woman representative position have erected billboards, as men dominate the marketing platform even those vying for the Member of County Assembly position.
In an industry that is riddled with uncertainty, competition and aggressiveness, Mburu says that market is dictated by the product that a printer gives to the client.
A few metres away from Mburu’s business is Beatrice Kira, who works for Lee Wise Ltd. She is seated on a black chair, staring at the neatly arranged branded reflector jackets waiting for the next client to awaken the printer. She, however, thinks 2013 was better for business.
“I had a friend who was in this business in 2013 and I think that they were making more,” Kira explains.
In this business, tribe dictates who gets what.
According to Mburu, tribal and political affiliations dictate friendship, hence business networks and who gets the orders. But he has been working with both Jubilee and NASA-sponsored aspirants, with some coming from as far as Maringa and Kisumu.
Kira on the other hand decries the impact of ethnicity, but she maintains that direct marketing has been instrumental in helping their business to stay afloat.
Below Lee Wise Ltd sits an underground printing shop owned by Sammy Magi. Even though he is somewhat pessimistic about the impact of the campaign expenditure in the closing elections, he has one group to thank.
Mr Magi has known aspirants for the Member of County Assembly position as his clients throughout the campaign period.
“We do get some orders from MPs but MCAs are very many. Governors are not giving us orders, may be they take their orders outside the country,” says Magi.
Like the others in the business, Magi considers this period to be short-lived and one that will soon be done and dusted. He adds that a majority of MCAs made posters, which they used for more than two months.
Party polls speak of a maturing democracy