By Prudence Minayo
Rose Kimotho has over two decades of experience in the highly competitive Kenya’s media industry. At a time when no vernacular station existed, she ventured into the less trodden path by birthing Kameme FM.
Rose began her career in the newsroom in 1978 when she stepped into The Weekly Review office in Nairobi. At the time, it was very much a man’s world. The woman of steel quit media to join the marketing industry after facing a myriad of challenges and frustrations. Her excellence and hardwork in both marketing and media would pay off and in 2003, she was awarded Moran of the Burning Spear by the late president Mwai Kibaki.
Here is her story as told by WoK.
Regional Reach Limited
Back in the day, Rose Kimotho founded Regional Reach Limited, a media and marketing company. The company’s core goal was to provide media access to the rural population with no access to a TV set at their home. They put up a number of TVs in public places and used them for products’ advertisements in between screenings.
As more people gained access to TV and Radio, the company ventured into the mainstream media. In 1999, with an initial Sh 40 million capital, they launched Kameme FM which grew to command a huge audience in Central Kenya.
However, other media stations also launched vernacular stations. According to Business Daily, the competitors not only poached top Kameme journalists but they also went after their advertisers, offering discounted prices.
Unwilling to rely on radio alone, Regional Reach launched K24 in November 2007. It began as Kenya’s first news only station and broadcasted in Nairobi. All did not go well as the post election violence interfered with the station’s revenue projection due to the decline in advertisement revenue. The station was also said to run on a KBC frequency and it owed millions to the national broadcaster.
Sale of K24 and Kameme FM
In 2009, it was reported that Regional Reach had sold the station to TV Africa Holdings, a company linked to the Kenyatta family. Others speculated that they had been forced to sell since they weren’t making profits.
According to the Analyst, the transfer of ownership was because K24’s set up capital was financed with a loan from a local bank where the Kenyatta family are major shareholders. Mrs. Kimotho could not service the loan which had accrued exorbitant interest rates. An official announcement of the sale was made by Mrs. Kimotho in a gazetted notice published on 14th August 2009.
Three Stones Limited
With her exit from Regional Reach Limited, she set up Three Stones Limited where she served as Managing Director. It operates 3 Stones TV and the first free to air digital television channel.
As a marketing mogul, she has chaired the Marketing Society of Kenya and Media Owners Association. At the Nairobi International Trade Show, she also served as a Chief Trade judge.
Kimotho has also sat on various boards including CFC Stanbic bank, CFC Stanbic Holdings, Population Service Kenya Limited and PSI Kenya Limited.
The Businesswoman has also had stints with Ogilvy and Mather and McCann-Erickson (K) Ltd.
She is a mother of one having given birth to her child at the age of 39. While giving an inspirational talk to a number of journalists at Media Lounge, Rose expressed her regret in putting her career over family.
“I didn’t have a life per se. If I could turn back the clock, I would do it differently. Even with my son, I was not there a lot, the house girl was feeding him and putting him to bed. I justified it by saying that I was doing this for them,” she was quoted by The Observer.
Rose added by saying one should get the right balance since nothing is more important than family.