‘The value of sports is underestimated in Africa, we run immense talent down the drain just because we think it’s only worth for leisure,’ says Cynthia Mumbo, a sports personnel and enthusiast.
By Caroline Mwendwa
“Embrace possibility is my mantra”, says Cynthia Mumbo who has in many occasions had to go against the grain in her pursuit for passion. The 35 year old is the founder and CEO of Sports CoASnnect Africa which is one of the companies making sports industry a profitable option. Mumbo always fancied sports. “Throughout my early education I was an athlete and I have always had a knack for sports not just for leisure but as business,” she says.
Her visionary demeanor tells a tale of resilience. Her credentials reveal a fortified background in marketing and leading roles in various sports associations. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in sports management at the Johan Cruyff Institute in Netherlands and is an alumni of Wits Business school of South Africa and FIBA academy. She holds a professional certificate of marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing where she was rated the overall best student in the country in the year 2009. The skills she garnered in these institutions have served various companies. Among them, Menengai Oil Refineries, Sameer Africa and East African Breweries Ltd.
Despite serving in the corporate for many years, Mumbohas always been conscious that her heart lies in sports. While at Firestone for instance, she was a member of Kenya Basketball Federation where she was an executive committee member in charge of strategies, development and marketing. In this position Mumbo managed to successfully negotiate a partnership deal between Kenya Basketball Federationand Supersport to air Kenyan basketball live on television and other media.
It is also under her service that the first ever live broadcast basketball games in East and Central Africa were launched. She also served as a Team manager for Kenya National Ladies Basketball Team. When she moved to East African Breweries Ltd, Mumbo registered Sports Connect Africa, as a company. It is however not until she lost her job at EABL, that she decided to follow her passion and dare to dream big in it. “I am still in the startup phase, but I envisage a highly involving enterprise,” she says.
One brick at a time
Having begun this venture from an informed point, Mumbo discovered that sports personnel in Kenya are not accorded the value they are worth. “It is not until one of our own is acclaimed outside Kenya for having performed so well in a certain sport that we begin to fete them,” she observes. This is the impetus that prompted her to set up an avenue to horn and groom sports persons and teams. Mumbo admits that her business idea requires so much networking and credibility by potential customers and that is what she is currently working on. Her efforts are however bearing fruits as Sports Connect Africa is already in partnership with some of the key players in the sports industry, and still eyes more collaborations in the future. It boasts partnerships of entities such as:Supersport, CIM Kenya, West Africa Golf, Center for Sports Law, KEFWA, among others.
Her vision is to make people in the sports industry and those aspiring to join itrealise that they can earn their bread through their talent. “The global value of sports a year ago was 1.5 million dollars and here in Africa the value is less than 5% of that,” she explains. Having grown with an interest in sports, without any avenues to channel her talent productively, Mumbo hopes to enable a better environment for the succeeding generations. “I would like Africans just like the Western countries to perceive sports as the huge business it is. “For a sports team to last and thrive they must be handled in a way that maintain sustainability, and that is exactly what we mentor teams about” she explains.
Services offered at Sports Connect Africa
Sports Connect Africa connects sports stakeholders in Africa. It also works to improve the capacity of sports entities and managers on the continent. “When we partner with a team we work on their brand, look at the remuneration of the players, the competitiveness of the team, and their strategy towards an income generating endeavor,” elaborates Mumbo.
At Sports Connect Africa, customised products to suite various entities are offered. These include: image rights, contract negotiation, team representation, media rights management, sports agency, athlete representation, sports marketing, event management and consultancy among others. “At the moment most of the partnerships we have established have borne fruits, and huge projects are underway,” she says.
Mumbo is not oblivious of the challenges that come with the initial stages of any venture but she is bracing each moment. Some of the pitfalls that betide her venture are lack of capacity in terms of finance and other resources which impede proper running of projects. Mumbo is however upbeat and positive that having made the first steps, the journey is on. “I am not at the peak, but at least I have made the first crack,” quips an optimistic Mumbo. She sees this as the digging part when one has to prepare the farm from which she hopes to harvest, but all in all she is enjoying it. “Sometimes I have to fall out with people, other times try too hard for chances but in all these experiences, I am building my character for what is coming,” she asserts.
It takes an excruciating long wait of 5 years, for a Chinese bamboo to shoot up from the ground. However, once the shoot is out, in just six weeks, the beautiful tree grows to a height of 80 inches.
Had the tree not developed a strong unseen foundation it could not have sustained its life as it grew. The same principle is true for people. People, who patiently toil towards worthwhile dreams and goals, building strong character while overcoming adversity and challenge, grow the strong internal foundation to handle success. Such is the story of Cynthia Mumbo.