Aerial photographer, traveller and company founder Samuel Muchai Kamau came to Westminster Business School, the University of Westminster, from Nairobi, Kenya for the Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing, accredited by the Digital Marketing Institute (DMI). This week, we interviewed him about his studies, his travels and his work. The photo above is Kiambu Tea Farms, Kiambu County, Kenya.
Sam decided to come to the UK to do a short diploma course in digital marketing. “I needed a set of skills and knowledge that would further increase the reach of my aerial photography and videography company in Kenya,” he says. “It’s called Aerial Affairs Africa, and we provide aerial imaging for our clients in the real estate, events, marketing, tourism and construction sectors.” You can see the company’s work on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Aerial photography, Sam says, “is new, it’s innovative and it’s fun. It gives a different angle to what would otherwise be a very “boring” ground level picture. It gives an overview of the extent of beauty of our world.”
It also, he points out, shows the extent of damage people have done. “For instance, we can use aerial photography to document deforestation as we can see its extent clearly from above the scale in which it is happening. So in areas where this was not very visible and people thought it wasn’t that bad, they can see clearly what is really happening.”
The best place for the digital marketing diploma
“I did a lot of research to find the best place to do the digital marketing diploma,” Sam says, “and I found it was highly rated at Westminster Business School.” Sam – who is in London for three months – was also attracted by the location: “London is the cultural centre of the world!”
He describes the course faculty as “professional and very knowledgeable” and particularly likes the way they provide “recent real life examples using current situations”. He’s also enjoyed the interaction with other participants who’ve come together from seven different countries. The course has, he says, changed his way of thinking about marketing. “The new age of digital marketing is upon us. I have started thinking critically and analytically regarding digital marketing strategies. And I would definitely recommend this course to anyone in the marketing, public relations sector willing to learn a new set of what I think are necessary skills in this day and age.”
Biking round Africa
Before embarking on his Digital Marketing Diploma, Sam travelled round Africa on his motorbike. “I got to experience Africa in a way so few people do. I met so many friendly people and made so many friends.”
“I had just arrived in Johannesburg, and I was parked at a petrol station to fuel and look for free Wi-Fi to try and Google a cheap hotel. Then this guy, Mogale Assegai, approached me saying that my registration plate number on my motorcycle was different and was curious to know where it was from. So, I told him I had ridden all the way from Kenya. He called me crazy and that started our friendship. He invited me over to spend the next few nights at his house. His wife was very surprised when he walked into the house with a stranger and I hoped he didn’t get into too much trouble for it. It was good to sleep in a bed for the first time in a long time as I had been camping since I left home!”
Sam also tried (and, sometimes didn’t) a variety of different foods. “The ugali – which is corn flour mixed with water and boiled – was very different in Malawi from how my culture cooks it. It was soft and sweet. I liked it very much. There were also places where I would see them sell roasted pigeon and even roasted rats. I never tried them as I wasn’t that adventurous. Some people I talked to said they eat those on a daily basis and find them delicious.”
And what did Sam learn from his travels?
I learnt that contrary to what many people believe, Africa is very safe and the people are friendly and helpful. The roads are very good.”
“I learnt that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. I had a great team supporting me, Titus Nderitu and Lin Sambili, of Sports With A Goal Africa, a Non-Governmental Organization that I partnered with. And we managed to get some sponsors on board including, KTM motorcycles, Shell Petroleum Kenya, Michelin Tires, TomTom, Chloride Exide Kenya, and the Kiambu County Governor, Hon. William Kabogo. And a special thank you goes to my mum, Leah Kamau, brother Edward Kamau and sister, Stephanie Kituri, for being my biggest fans and for all the support they gave me during my journey across Africa!”
Sam emailed proposals to more than 500 potential sponsors. “Most didn’t even reply, some replied saying no, enough said yes and agreed to be my sponsors.”
If you’re thinking of seeking sponsorship…
“The answer is always no,” says Sam, “if you don’t ask. Most people believe that some companies are too big and that they will not be interested in their story. And so they decide not to approach them. Just do it! The answers will surprise you!”
After his three months in London, Sam is planning to return to Kenya and build his company using the skills he has learned on the Diploma course. In the long term, he would like his company to be the biggest provider of aerial imagery in East and Central Africa. But he would also like to use his drones for social good. “Besides the obvious use of unmanned aerial systems in photography and videography,” he explains, “they can also be used for transportation. I have a vision to use them for transportation of relief foods, medicines and vaccines to areas of my continent that are famine struck and in need.