Many people in Kenya have talents but only a small percentage can make a living from their talent. We have a few successful people in the creative arts, film, sports, art and design to name a few.

Why is it so difficult to make a living from your talents? My view is that the mindset towards talent should be changed. Talent should be viewed as a product for a business. Those who have identified this can make millions and even billions. While the passion of the talent is appreciated, it needs to be commercialized to be profitable to the talented person.

Legally, talent is protected as Intellectual Property. Like any property to claim it and own it, it should be registered. Ownership is key so that it is clear who is to benefit. Intellectual Property Rights include Copyright, Trademark, Patent etc. Apart from registration; rights are also secured through contracts e.g royalties, commission etc.

Just like any product in the market for it to be profitable it should have a unique selling proportion, be consistent, be properly branded, fulfil a customer need, be properly priced and be available to the customer. Depending on the target market the appropriate marketing strategy to be applied.

Apart from the raw talent, merchandise and endorsements are a source of revenue. This is only possible when the talent has value in their personal brand. Talent/ performers/ athletes should nurture a personal brand that can be monetized, especially when popular. A talent/ athlete/performer must have this in mind from the beginning of the career and should network and place their brand with the future in mind. Have a long term strategy.

Many talented people depend on agents, business managers, producers and other professionals to help them monetize. It is important that the talent is aware of how their industry operates so that they can make proper decisions. Know your industry and have a long term strategy. It is key to note that most talent e.g athletes have a shelf life. Plan the full life span of the career and even after.

Skills development, as a talented person, you need to adapt to the customer’s needs and tastes. Sometimes, this is a conflict as some talented people want to be true to their craft and be authentic. Authenticity stands the test of time. A talented person needs to get a balance or will soon be a “has been” and no longer marketable. Being the BEST in your genre increases brand value and entails consistency and hard work and sacrifice. This also is driven by the strategy of the talented person.

Similar minded talented people need to lobby and be more aggressive for a favourable environment e.g tax incentives, skills development and easy means to secure rights. It is up to the talented people to move the industry and not only depend on the professionals who are driven by the cash return. The talent should be at the forefront to open up this multimillion industry in Kenya. This industry can mop up a huge percentage of youth and unemployed to meet a decent living and profits.

Janet Katisya

Mpower Limited.

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