Digital marketing is vital for organizations in increasing sales and spreading brand awareness. Laban Maloi’s Sunface Group is a digital-first innovation-driven company that helps Kenyan entrepreneurs to grow and thrive in the digital space.
In this interview with WoK, Laban talks about his background, entrepreneurship journey and his commitment to providing the best digital solutions for clients across the MSME spectrum.
Who is Laban Maloi and what do you do?
My name is Laban Maloi. I am 28 years old, born and raised in Olenguruone, Kuresoi Constituency in Nakuru County. I attended school in Kericho for high school and Laikipia University for my Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media.
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After I was employed as a radio presenter at a local radio station between 2016 and 2018. In 2018 I was employed at Safiri, a cab company as a marketing and communications manager to 2019. Later I went into entrepreneurship in 2019 started with a company for marketing and PR services. After a year of operations we closed down to refocus and strategize.
A little later I realized that there was a gap that had not been filled especially for SMEs. Getting products and services online and having an online presence. So, I set out to start the Sunface Group with my partner Jared Matunda to focus on helping businesses to break even in the digital space.
At first, we were just offering digital services but later branched into USSDs, management systems and create systems that did not require much and that were simplified and affordable. We also introduced other management systems for restaurants, schools, etc. That is how we established ourselves as one of the most affordable digital-first companies in Nakuru.
How important is it for MSMEs to have a digital presence?
Currently, statistics show that about 26 million Kenyans own smartphones and have access to the internet. These people access social media, read news online and spend a sizeable amount of time online.
For businesses, digital is the way to go because they are able to reach a lot of people online. Digital media also offers an opportunity for clients to interact directly with your products or services through their feedback and reactions. It is therefore easier for entrepreneurs to gauge the uptake and monitor their growth on social media.
You mentioned affordability as one of your biggest selling points. What other qualities give your company an edge over the competition?
One is the level of interaction we have with our clients. We always ensure that the people handling a particular account truly understand the product. We ensure this by doing vigorous research, fact-finding missions and presentations for our clients.
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We also advice our clients on the best way to do their marketing for the best results and returns. We are also very conversant with the digital space, so we are always updated on the new concepts, trends and happenings in the digital space.
What lessons have you learnt along your entrepreneurship journey?
One of the greatest lessons I have learned is that before you go into any business, understand how it works, what are the trends and what is currently in the market. Also understand the value you are bringing to the market and what gap you can fill. Basically, what problem are you solving?
Another lesson I have learned is there are no shortcuts especially when it comes to marketing. I always tell clients to always prioritize their marketing and set aside budgets for marketing to ensure maximum visibility. Do not look for cheaper alternatives; rather, look at the value that the marketing is bringing to your company.
The third lesson I have learned is running a business as an entrepreneur involves building a personal brand as well. Having a personal brand that is associated with your company or business will give it a human touch and will encourage engagement and interest for potential customers.
What are some of the challenges you have faced in your entrepreneurship journey?
One of my biggest hurdles was raising capital. We needed a lot starting and working capital when we were beginning, so we had to outsource our income from either investor funding or other sources.
Another challenge was convincing the market. When we were starting, this was a relatively foreign concept that required a lot of convincing to get our target market to understand the products and services we were offering. Many of them saw it as a secondary requirement for their businesses. Eventually we were able to break even, but the journey to that point was quite difficult.
The challenge of staffing has also been a pressing one. The hiring process is one of the most difficult when running a company. We would get very good candidates during the interviewing process but after employment we did not see the skill and expertise implemented in their job. This made us lose a lot of money through paying the salaries, letting them go and finding new talent.
Where do you see the Sunface Group in the near future?
We want to expand by offering more products and services to our clients and do more research on other concepts being implemented in other bigger markets.
In the next two years we also looking to have more branches in other towns in Kenya. We also want to expand into other markets that have a big growth potential like Somaliland.
As we go with time we are also looking to investing in training for our staff in other countries. Our biggest vision is to become one of the biggest digital marketing companies in Kenya and bring on board as many SMEs as we can.
Where can customers find you?
We have a contact number through our website on www.sunfacegroup.co.ke and our social media pages at Sunface Group Ltd on all social media platforms.
Our physical office is in Nakuru Town. We are located along Kenyatta Avenue on Wilmur House third floor office 307.