Business In Sports: Interview with Cynthia Mumbo, Founder and CEO Of Sports Connect Africa

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Sports Connect Africa (SCA) is a sports consultancy and agency that is involved in connecting sports stakeholders in Africa and improving the capacity of sports entities and managers on the continent through sports consultancy, sports workshops and forums, sports marketing, event management, and sports development. SCA Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Cynthia Mumbo believes that investing in sports development creates a wide variety of viable and lucrative business opportunities.

What does Sports Connect Africa do exactly?

At SCA our focus is on building networks, empowering sports stakeholders and managing relationships and creating solutions, whether commercial or developmental.

What inspired you to launch the platform?

Having been a basketball player for many years, I was taken aback by the lack of opportunities that were present for me to excel in the game. I did some research and realized that there was a big gap in the management of sport. My purpose came from wanting to create an opportunity for others that I may once not have had.

What has Sports Connect Africa accomplished since its inception?

We have managed golf tournaments with our partners in Dubai,GEC Open, we are currently working as the operations agency for the NBA in Kenya, we have a partnership with Olympique Lyon in France to advance their interests here and we are also working with the Hype Foundation which is the largest network of sports innovators and investors in the world. Locally we are working on our Vikapu Elite Basketball camp, the Africa Sports Business Mixer, and the Kenya Sports yearbook. We also have several consultancies under our sleeves.

Do you believe that developing Africa’s sports sector is a viable business investment?

Yes, it is. Africa has so much raw talent and the consumption of sports is highly developed especially for pay TV and mobile. The opportunity lies in broadcast, infrastructure, team ownership, merchandise, etc. These areas are virtually untouched and misunderstood.

What are some of the challenges that Sports Connect Africa has faced since the platform was launched?

It has taken a long time to build the credibility of the business. As it is, sports management is not quite understood in the region. Having to continuously sing the same song and come against those who are against changing the status quo has been a challenge. Also challenging is the financial investment required to run the business.

Africa produces some of the world’s best athletes and football players. What can stakeholders, governments, and investors do to support Africa’s sports industry?

There has to be a paradigm shift in how sports is viewed. In my country Kenya, the government comes in only after the teams shine at the international stage and hog on the popularity of the athletes at that particular moment. It is imperative that investment is put in the right places. It is hard to do this without structures that support the commercial returns for investors. Benchmarking is critical to success.

SportPesa, one of the biggest sponsors of sports development in the continent, recently withdrew its funding activities in Kenya due to higher taxes. What do you think can be done to keep this from happening with other sponsors?

The particular case of SportPesa is a catch 22 situation. Gambling is considered a heavy vice in the Kenyan society and by and large the African society. So the government move to increase sin tax on the company seems justified to many. But looking at what SportPesa has done for sports in the country, it’s hard to understand the governments move. The company has invested more in sports than the government has in a long time. I think a lot of lobbying is required to ensure that other sponsors are not affected in the same way.

What are Sports Connect Africa’s plans for the near or distant future?

We plan to continue building our brand locally and into the African market. We are looking to invest into our current activities so as to stabilise the company. We have a lot of learning to do. The world is our oyster.

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