How Journalist Bounced Back After Losing Wife, Ksh 5M Business

  • Joe Kilonzo
    Joe Kilonzo a Filmmaker Changing Lives: Facebook
  • For every entrepreneur, their greatest life desire is to see their businesses prosper into brands that withstand test of time.

    However this is not the case for one Joe Kilonzo, commonly known as Papa Joe amongst his business peers in Eldoret town.

    Joe kilonzo is a filmmaker and a former journalist who was born, raised and resides in Eldoret town. More than five years ago, stars had aligned and everything in his life seemed well figured out.

    A TV studio
    An undated image of an empty TV studio. Vernacular media stations are commanding a large piece of viewership and listenership in the country growing from regional to national reach.
    Africa press

    Speaking to, he said,"I had probably the most successful state-of-the-art recording studio in the Rift Valley back then."

    He revealed he had a thriving DJ Academy, a music production studio, Public Address system for hire, and offered bespoke wedding coverage for top dollar, among other services.

    "My business valuation at that time was approximately more than Ksh 5million. I recall even at some point using Ksh 2million for office setup, employing 15 full time workers and 20 on part time basis," he said. 

    Then the unprecedented happened, and things began falling apart. First, his wife was diagnosed with brain tumor, which saw him spend a lot of money on medication.

    "It was the beginning of the end, though I didn't know it. Endless visits to the hospital ended with her demise in February 2016 when she lost the battle against the brain tumor. I was shattered," he said.

    But that was just the beginning. In quick succession, he lost his business in Eldoret town. He had left the business to his friends to run, following his wife sickness, which required a lot of his attention.

    It only hit him months later that the business had run into debts, with six month rent arrears that saw him close it down.

    Things became so bad, he relocated to his rural home to re-strategize his next  move. A few months later, things began looking up, again. But it didn't take long before thugs struck, robbing him.

    They took away valuable items, including laptops and cameras. The incident and others, including his financial situation, made him slip into depression. So stressful was his situation, he tried to commit suicide unsuccessfully.

    Luckily for him, like the phoenix he rose from the ashes and is now doing relatively well.

    "I have decided to use my trials and tribulations to help inspire upcoming filmmakers, especially in the North Rift Valley of Kenya," he said. 

    He also runs a mentorship program, where over 300 mentees have passed through, so far. He first identifies, supports and then mentors emerging filmmakers. Most of them, he said, are cinematographers, script writers and actors.

    "I use my YouTube Channel, Dreammakers Film Hub, to help young cinematographers get exposure," he said.

    Plans are underway to  set up North Rift Filmmakers Association( NORFA), which will be used to link and help create networking mechanism for budding film makers in marginalized areas like Pokot, Samburu, Elgeyo Marakwet and Turkana.

    He ended, saying the end game is to make film a full time job for many unemployed young Kenyans.

    Job seekers in Kenya.
    Job seekers in Kenya.
    thug suicide