Chris Kirwa: From Struggling KBC Presenter to CEO

  • Arguably one of the biggest names in events management in Kenya, Chris Kirwa's story from humble beginnings to his current business venture is one riddled with triumphs and losses in equal measure.

    The events guru shared his journey on his social media where he detailed just how he worked his way up at the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) driven by his love to succeed in events management.

    Raised by a single mother who later died when he was 17 years, Kirwa moved from Nakuru to Nairobi where he began his search for money.

    While engaging in different money-making projects, he sought a job at the national broadcaster. After months of trying to get a spot, the management gave him a chance to volunteer at the station.

    "I'd do manual jobs at the station until one day there was a slot open when one of the presenters at the KBC English Service shows didn't show up and they needed someone. I jumped on that opportunity and that's how I started presenting at the station," he disclosed during an interview on Switch TV.

    Kirwa narrated how he was staying in a house where he converted his curtains to bedsheets at night.

    "I was depressed but didn’t know what depression was. I had crazy ulcers, no food at times, and hot water and some sugar was dinner," he added.

    The showbiz icon added that his colleagues would offer to buy him tea and mandazi from the canteen at the station.

    "So here I was, a celebrity on radio, no money and boarding matatus a few guys would recognize me and laugh wondering how come I was in a matatu," he added

    He didn't earn much from the job with a measly pay cheque of Ksh9,000 as the company catered for food and transport for assignments.

    Kirwa revealed that he used a portion of his meager earnings to buy a television where he would learn on how events are managed.

    "I used to watch the Olympics, Diamond League, Oscars, Grammy Awards and take notes of how they were set up and got a few tips on that," he stated.

    The veteran event planner revealed that his big break came when he was running a restaurant and a beer company was looking to market a product. His willingness to push the product landed him an operations manager position at the events company where he was able to travel to many countries.

    In 2016, he set up an events company with his wife Cate Kirwa, who he stated was the one who registered the company - CateChris Limited.

    He stated that he handled the operations side of the business as his wife took over the client management as well as public relations and hospitality.

    Kirwa's word of advice is for everyone to have a teachable spirit and never to underestimate the power of networking.

    Chris (left) and Cate Kirwa - founders of CateChris Limited
    Chris (left) and Cate Kirwa - founders of CateChris Limited