KCB talks about its sponsorship of Kenya’s version of Dragons’ Den


The judges, or ‘Lions’, on Lions’ Den

Lions’ Den is a Kenyan TV show – part of the business series that includes Dragons’ Den in the UK and Shark Tank in the US – where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of business leaders (the ‘Lions’), for the chance to have them invest in their ventures.

Next week, Kenya will air the first episode of Lions’ Den  which is sponsored by KCB Bank Kenya (KCB)  making it the third African country, after South Africa and Nigeria, to launch a local version of the show format. Angela Mwirigi, KCB’s marketing and communications director, spoke to How we made it in Africa about why KCB chose to sponsor the show.

Where did the idea for this partnership come from?

KCB has an entrepreneurial mentorship programme called ‘2jiajiri’, which comes from the Swahili word meaning ‘employ oneself’. The initiative aims to create jobs through entrepreneurship. It helps entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and in turn, employ people. So we brought the show to Kenya as part of this initiative, because Lions’ Den is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to expand and take their business to the next level, if they win investment and mentorship from one of the ‘Lions’.

How has the show been adapted for the Kenyan market?

The ‘Lions’ are homegrown business moguls. Contestants applied from all over the country and all businesses represented are Kenya-based businesses that serve the Kenyan people.

What other partnerships have you engaged in to make the show a success?

Quite Bright Films, a local company, is charged with producing the show, which is licensed under Sony Pictures. Nation Media Group is the broadcast partner. We worked with some recruitment partners such as Strathmore University and the Young African Leaders Initiative to ensure that we got good business pitching, and we also partnered with Uber Kenya, who provide transport for the ‘Lions’ and contestants.

What resources do contestants have to support their pitches?

Contestants were given basic business evaluation training – including presentation skills – to ensure that their pitches to the ‘Lions’ were informative, straight to the point, and that they could defend their numbers and projections.

Who are the ‘Lions’?

The ‘Lions’ are businessmen and -women in Kenya who are also venture capitalists and investors. They are:

• Mike Rabar, founder of Homeboyz Entertainment
• Olive Gachara, founder and Publisher of Couture magazine
• Darshan Chandaria, group CEO of Chandaria Industries
• Kris Senanu, managing director, enterprise division, Telkom Kenya
• Wandia Gichuru, co-founder, Vivo Activewear, a clothing brand

Each of the ‘Lions’ comes with key industry experience and strengths. How are these different strengths expected to play out in the ‘Den’?

Well, each of the ‘Lions’ has strong business sense. However, each one also has their own unique approach to investing in business. There will definitely be a bit of competition in the ‘Den’ for the good business pitches that they see. It will be interesting to see what drives each of the ‘Lions’ to actually invest in a business.

Will the businesses be subject to further due diligence before funding is offered?

It is the ‘Lions’’ responsibility to do their due diligence once they offer funding in the ‘Den’. The contestants were screened for the show, but the ‘Lion’ will follow up if they choose to join in as a business partner. If the ‘Lion’ is not sure of the investment after the pitch in the ‘Den’, it is up to them if they want to proceed with their investment.

How did you find contestants?

Aspiring entrepreneurs applied to the show either online via the Bankika.co.ke portal or through the physical application forms provided at KCB branches. All applicants had to open an account with KCB Bank. The best business ideas were then selected to have the chance to pitch to the ‘Den’.

Once they have pitched, successful contestants will meet up with the investors who offered funding, to craft a way forward for the business.

In which ways, besides providing capital, will the ‘Lions’ contribute to the businesses in which they invest?

The ‘Lions’ are ‘angel investors’, which means that they provide capital in exchange for equity in the businesses they select for investment. The ‘Lion’ will serve as a business partner to the contestant whose business they invest in. In the case of a successful pitch, the ‘Lion’ will be a mentor to the entrepreneur and help ensure that the business becomes a success.