Suppose you wanted to travel from Nairobi to China for business, how would you go about it? The lack of adequate information and availability of tour companies is what inspired George Mbogo to set up Epic Business Tours to help Kenyan entrepreneurs looking to travel to China for business opportunities.
“I started asking myself how many people are like me, you want to go to China and explore the opportunities there, but there is no one to hold your hand”
“I then got motivated to set up my company so that I could take Kenyans to China because I have come to understand the Chinese market and know where to source for goods one may be looking for,” he says.
Over time, China has become a popular destination for Kenyan entrepreneurs looking to cash in on low-cost products the Asian nation is well known for.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) in 2017, imports into Kenya from China were worth an estimated Sh390 billion, a 20% increase from Sh337 billion in 2016 and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Speaking at 2018’s China International Import Expo, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said that imports from China account for 17.2% of Kenya’s total trade making China Kenya’s biggest trading partner.
Epic Business Tours helps traders find business opportunities by helping them meet manufacturers, suppliers and shipping companies.
“80% of all the goods that we are importing from outside the country are coming from China”
“We have clients that range from all spectrum of goods, such as spare parts, furniture, clothes, hair products and beauty products…anything that you can think of, you can find in China,” he says.
Mbogo plans most of the trips to Guangzhou, China’s third-largest city and home to the Canton Fair, the largest modernized exhibition center in Asia.
“We have a Canton Fair twice a year in that part of the world and it is like a large market. Our clients simply love what they can pick and come home and implement or invest”
“From 2014 to now, we have taken more than 1,000 business people to China to do business,” he says.
Lead Guide of Epic Business Tours, Michelle Maina, says that after coming back to Kenya from China, many traders are able to run successful businesses back home.
“We have a trader in Siaya county called Steve Obewo, who imported a nail-making machine as well as a tissue-making machine and he is running a very successful business here in Kenya,” she says.
Asked about the perception many people have that Chinese products are of low quality; George dispels this idea and maintains that you get what you pay for when you import from China.
“When you go to China there is a wide array of goods from the cheapest to the most expensive, from the highest quality to the lowest quality so it is the business person that have helped create that perception, it is not the Chinese that have brought the cheap goods, the business people bring in low-quality good,” he says.
For Ksh 199,000, clients get a return air ticket to China, accommodation, visa processing, airport transfers as well as group travel insurance.
Mbogo hopes that in future he can venture into other Eastern markets such as Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and Japan.