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From hawking sweets to selling lottery tickets: one man’s journey to emceeing

When Stanley Ndeto first came to Nairobi in 2004, he had to hawk sweets in the CBD for survival while being housed by members of his church.

The sweets business failed and he moved to selling Kenya Charity Sweepstake tickets which also proved unprofitable leading to his short stint as a porter at Country Bus Station.

As a casual, he would be denied wages by veterans in the business. In the end he opted to work in a kiosk before finally securing his first formal job as a hotel staff bus conductor in 2007.

Mr Ndeto used his Sh12,000 salary to pay for Sh40,000 lifeguard and swimming instructor courses from January to July 2009. The course opened up opportunities that exposed him to corporate clients who nurtured his emceeing talent.

“I paid for the courses in installments and later went and sat down with the manager at YMCA central State House road and he gave me a chance,” Mr Ndeto narrated.

PERMANENT JOB

While still working as a conductor, he would attend classes and even did an internship from July to October 2009 at the same hotel he worked.

“We were dropping staff home at night then after closing early morning I would go for the internship. I remember I would sleep for only three hours while also pursuing the very tough lifeguard course,” he said.

After completing his studies he secured a job at the same hotel sitting in for a staffer who was on leave.

Stanley Ndeto's first emceeing "gig" in church. PHOTO | COURTESY
Stanley Ndeto’s first emceeing “gig” in church. PHOTO | COURTESY

He was later employed on a permanent basis at the Jacaranda Hotel’s health club under the then manager Abdull Idriss.

His boss noticed Mr Ndeto’s emceeing talent that he had nurtured while volunteering in church functions. With time he started offering Mr Ndeto opportunities to emcee in events.

“My first big event was a church wedding I volunteered to emcee on October 17, 2009 and when the bride insisted on payment I refused. The second wedding I did for free as well, then the third one I charged a thousand shillings which was paid six months later,” recalled Mr Ndeto.

BIG BREAK

His love for emceeing grew and in 2012 he took a risk of borrowing Sh125, 000 from a friend to purchase a sound system.

“I was conned and sold substandard speakers and amplifier. I failed to get events for months so I ended up struggling to repay the loan with my salary,” narrated Mr Ndeto.

His big break came in 2015 when he started having client referrals that would guarantee him an event every month and consequently every week.

Mr Ndeto is now among the most sought after emcees owing to his entertaining prowess that features a lot of dancing during events.

His advice to budding emcees and entrepreneurs, “It takes a single drop to fill an ocean. I didn’t just start but I discovered and invested in my talent. I am not yet there but kicking hard for my clients to get the best of me.”