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Kester Muhanji: Entrepreneur Who Began Successful Marketing Firm On A Dining Table, Now Expanding To The East African Region

I’ve always wanted to be in business, but it has always been scary. At some point, I used all my resources to the point that kids were chased from school and that is the most painful thing that can happen to any parent.” – Kester Muhanji.

When WoK held an exclusive interview with Kester Muhanji, one thing that seamlessly came out about him is that he is a nerd in business. He spoke passionately about carving a niche for himself in the marketing field.

He spoke of how he is a pious man. He also spoke on how he equates himself to an eagle and his desire to continue soaring high and spreading his business tentacles in the East African region.

Now, Kester Muhanji is the founder and CEO of Aquila East Africa, a marketing firm he incepted in 2018. Back then, any potential client could easily shrug off Aquila as it was as insignificant as an atom.

Muhanji used to operate on his dining table and he was the one doing everything for his small company. And it was a difficult time for the entrepreneur as his firm remained in struggling mode for a decade.

He was the one handling all operations for the firm.

It was quite a humbling experience, I remember working from a dining table. All I had was a laptop from my previous work, a phone and a printer that was in the house,” he says.

The bespectacled marketer told WoK how his business suffered financial crisis to a point that his children lacked school fees. Then his vehicle got auctioned. In fact, at some point, his firm went dormant as he committed himself to other hustles.

When he finally got his first client, it was a hell of a struggle to finance the Ksh 70k needed to market the client.

The growth of Aquila 

Muhanji remained obstinately determined even as his company began to expand.

He explains that the name Aquila is Spanish for an eagle. All his life, he has been fascinated by this bird’s ability to soar above the clouds, being outstanding and having a farther vision than the rest.

An Eagle Art inside Aquila’s Office in Nairobi

From this one client, Aquila has grown and has so far undertaken assignments for over twenty clients. At present, they have twelve regular clients, four of which are digital. The Agency has also spread its wings to Uganda and Tanzania and is just about to take a bite of the Congo Market.

Currently, the Agency has 14 employees at its Nairobi Head office and 64 in the field. Aquila is set to expand as there are clients in Mombasa, Kisumu and Kakamega that have continued to bring short term but regular business.

Aquila East Africa specializes in advertising, experiential marketing, digital communication, and production. The agency also does Market Research and Public Relations.

The serial entrepreneur’s most proud moment is having a premise where he currently operates from. He is also full of praise for his great team and does the best to better the working environment.

“I believe in giving them the best that they can get and this is something I’ve experienced myself from previous places I’ve worked where I had the best in terms of holiday, work, environment, medical cover and such things,” he says.

Advice to upcoming businesspeople

His advice to upcoming entrepreneurs is to have a high pain threshold and never to throw in the towel no matter the circumstances.

“Start small, but start; these will be the difficult times.”

“If you must walk, you walk, if you must crawl; crawl but don’t stop. Like any other progression in life, the takeoff is always challenging,” he says.