Chams Media celebrates 10 year milestone as it rides the Kenyan diaspora wave

0
1338
Staff of the Nairobi-based Chams Media that has grown to over 20 since the company’s founding on Dec. 1, 2013. The firm’s founder and CEO is Mr. Alex Chamwada, sitting third from left, The company will celebrate the milestone at a Nairobi hotel on Dec. 1, 2023 which will be livestreamed on social media. Check out Mshale’s story for links. Photo: Courtesy Chams Media

When standout Kenyan journalist Alex Chamwada left a secure job at a prominent Kenyan broadcaster to launch Chams Media, a content creation and communication consulting firm, 10 years ago, he wanted to “tell positive stories that were often overlooked.”

He  has done exactly that and those stories are everywhere: online in places like YouTube and social media especially Facebook, on free-to-air Kenyan TV, and its flagship program Daring Abroad is among the most widely shared on diaspora WhatsApp groups.

In the decade since its launching, Chams Media has featured stories of over 1,000 individuals and companies in its flagship program Daring Abroad, with production of the series involving Mr. Chamwada and his crew traveling overseas to gather content. The series highlights successful Kenyans abroad in the areas of business, economic and social endeavors.

Daring Abroad airs on NTV Kenya, the second most viewed tv station in Kenya according to data provided by GeoPoll, the Washington, DC-based data research firm that operates in Africa, Asia and Latin America. According GeoPoll, NTV had a viewership of 10.6 million people in the month of September 2023, the most recent surveyed month.

Those in the diaspora normally catch the show on YouTube and are among the over 120,000 subscribers on the Chams Media TV channel that has a cumulative viewership of over 6 million views across its different programs. In addition to the popular Daring Abroad series, other programs closer to home include The Chamwada Report which delves into development issues in the country.

″It was difficult to convince media that the positive can sell,” Chamwada tells Mshale during a WhatsApp interview. “It was difficult to overcome the narrative that numbers are built on sensation. But we have demonstrated that you can step out of the norm and excel.”

Interacting with Chamwada on a personal level, most recently in August when he was in Minneapolis for a live taping of Daring Abroad, one gets the sense he didn’t start the business exclusively just for the money, a thought that was posed to him during the WhatsApp interview.

“This is a journey of faith, a journey of resilience anchored on passion and humility and powered by the grace of the Almighty God,” Chamwada says. “When I stepped out of the newsroom to go independent, I had no savings, I had no office. I had zero equipment except my cellphone, laptop, the idea and networks.”

Chamwada says with a smile he finds it ironic that Chams Media’s main business with Kenyan mainstream media is with content they had ignored.

Ambassador Lazarus Amayo of the Washington, D.C. Kenyan embassy, left, and Ms. Roseline K. Njogu, the principal secretary in State Department for Diaspora Affairs at Kenya’s foreign ministry, center, listen to Chams Media CEO Mr. Alex Chamwada, during a Kenya @60 celebration in Atlanta on Nov. 25, 2023. Photo: Courtesy Chams Media Facebook

From the humble beginnings of just him as the staff, he has since grown Chams Media to a company of over 20 employees spanning the editorial and production crew and a strong the back office operations team.

He points out the case of the large Kenyan diaspora that media in Kenya had mostly ignored except for when there was tragedy. There were no human-interest stories that showed Kenyans abroad in their full scope.

Central Bank of Kenya figures show remittances from Kenyans in the diaspora were the leading foreign exchange earner last year totaling $4.027 billion in 2022.

“One of our most exciting episodes of Daring Abroad show featured Bramwell Bushuru, the only Kenyan living on the little known St. Helena Island in the South Atlantic Ocean,” Chamwada says. “The Island is a British protectorate with a population of only 4,000. Bramwell is an air traffic controller at the Island.”

The production of the St. Helena episode, which as of the time of this writing has over 135,000 views, involved Chamwada and his cameraman Eric Maweu timing their visit to coincide with the once a week flight that gets one to the tiny island via Johannesburg using South Africa-based FlyAirlink.

Mshale Editor-in-Chief and founder, Mr. Tom Gitaa, left, poses for a portrait with Chams Media CEO, Mr. Alex Chamwada, outside Tamu Grill and Catering in Minneapolis where he had brought him for a shooting session of Daring Abroad featuring George Ndege, the owner of Tamu. Photo: Eric Maweu/Chams Media

As Chamwada and his team have crisscrossed the globe showcasing Kenyans in all of their glory, he has transformed Chams Media into a trusted medium for connecting Kenya with its sprawling and all-important diaspora trusted by both government and business and most importantly, the audience.

Blue chip companies in Kenya such as Co-Operative Bank and Kenya Airways that are  trying to expand their businesses to the diaspora have made Chams Media their partner of choice for reaching the lucrative market.

Additionally, conversations he has had with Kenyans in the diaspora have sparked new unrelated ventures for the 10-year-old firm, as those abroad express hunger for trusted business partners and service providers.

“I realized as I met with Kenyans whether in the U.S. or Europe or anywhere else, that they were looking for businesses they could trust,” Chamwada says. “They kept asking me where can we invest? can you recommend a trusted developer? and that is when ideas for Chams Adventures, Chams Real Estate and Chams Insurance Agency came up.”

“The future looks bright. There are many opportunities in the digital space. We will continue to diversify our content. We have also diversified into organizing and hosting investment forums abroad under the Daring Abroad brand. We will continue to nurture talents,” said Chamwada.

A formal celebration of company’s 10-year anniversary will be livestreamed on its social media pages from Nairobi’s Jacaranda Hotel on Friday, Dec. 1 starting at 5PM local Kenyan time (2:00 PM GMT or 9:00 A.M. CST). Links are below.

Chams Media Facebook
Chams Media YouTube
Chams Meda LinkedIn

Author

  • Born and raised in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa, Tom is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Mshale which has been reporting on the news and culture of African immigrants in the United States since 1995. He has a BA in Business from Metro State University and a Public Leadership Credential from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He was the original host of Talking Drum, the signature current affairs show on the African Broadcasting Network (ABN-America), which was available nationwide in the United States via the Dish Network satellite service. On the show, he interviewed Nobel laureates such as 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner, Professor Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the peace prize and heads of states. Tom has served and chaired various boards including Global Minnesota (formerly Minnesota International Center), the sixth largest World Affairs Council in the United States. He has previously served as the first Black President of the Board of Directors at Books for Africa. He also serves on the boards of New Vision Foundation and the Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium. He has previously served two terms on the board of the United Nations Association. An avid runner, he retired from running full marathons after turning 50 and now only focuses on training for half marathons.

About Tom Gitaa Gitaa, Editor-in-Chief

Born and raised in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa, Tom is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Mshale which has been reporting on the news and culture of African immigrants in the United States since 1995. He has a BA in Business from Metro State University and a Public Leadership Credential from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He was the original host of Talking Drum, the signature current affairs show on the African Broadcasting Network (ABN-America), which was available nationwide in the United States via the Dish Network satellite service. On the show, he interviewed Nobel laureates such as 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner, Professor Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the peace prize and heads of states. Tom has served and chaired various boards including Global Minnesota (formerly Minnesota International Center), the sixth largest World Affairs Council in the United States. He has previously served as the first Black President of the Board of Directors at Books for Africa. He also serves on the boards of New Vision Foundation and the Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium. He has previously served two terms on the board of the United Nations Association. An avid runner, he retired from running full marathons after turning 50 and now only focuses on training for half marathons.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 4.50 out of 5)
Loading...