Event, Party Planners Pick Up Steam





Mekdes Zeleke, a mother of three and a civil engineer, had never thought of being a birthday event planner and supplier of party materials.

Although she had been thinking of running her own business, being a birthday party equipment supplier was not one of them. Ironically, a business that was not part of her wish list has become her work.

It was just six months ago when she celebrated her child’s birthday, when she realised that planning birthday parties can be a business that earns her bread and butter.

For her children’s birthdays, she perfectly and attractively decorated the party with different decorative materials and supplies.

She posted the pictures of the event on her Facebook page, where she gets lots of comments and encouragement to enter into the business.

“People just started to contact me via social media approaching me to make decorations for them,” she told Fortune. “I didn’t have any idea how to change the offers into business.”

That was when the idea of establishing a decoration and event planning business came to her mind. She immediately established Evana Decor, named after her daughter’s name, and invested 140,000 in her new venture.

For the first order that came in she gave a high price, she recalls.

That was when the idea of establishing a decoration and event planning business came to her mind. She immediately established Evana Decor, named after her daughter's name, and invested 140,000 in her new venture.



“I was not even well prepared for the business,” she said. “I did not even know how to set prices.”

Mekdes visited event organisers to learn how the system works and how to manage her new establishment. Eventually, she turned her business into one of the most recognised decor businesses around.

Though many families take it upon themselves to organise birthday celebrations for their children, there are some who need the services of companies like Evana Decor.

The birthday celebration parties organized by the companies are not typical birthday parties with a few candies, fruits and neighborhood kids gathering around a table with a photographer taking pictures.

Event organisers offer different toys in the characters of Micky Mouse, Mini Mouse, Spiderman and Shaun the Sheep. The package also includes bouncing castles, various decorations, balloons and face painting. The parties can be held in hotels or at home.

The business started to flourish four years ago, according to Dawed Jemal, a businessman who has been organising birthday parties for the last six years. Along with organising parties, he paints children’s faces with colours and shadows, charging 35 Br a face.

He started the business painting faces with his wife at the Lions Cage compound in Sidist Kilo.

”We entered the business following the increase in the demand of parents, who want to celebrate their children’s birthday on a large scale,’’ Dawued told Fortune. “The lifestyle changes of parents is also another factor.’’

For larger birthday parties, parents pay somewhere between 75,000 Br to 100,000 Br for face painting, stage decorations, equipment supply and event planning.



Seniet Adhanom, a mother of two who runs a business at Merkato, has a busy schedule.

Because  her tight schedule, she was forced to get an event organiser to decorate her son’s birthday.

The first thing she did was log in to Facebook and search for a company that could handle the activities. Luckily, she found Mekdes’s company Evana Decor. She viewed the pictures Mekdes had posted on Facebook.

“Her decoration attracted me a lot,” said Seniet, “then I decided to hire her.”

Seniet paid Mekdes 10,000 Br for the service.

Mekdes posts each and every party she decorates on social media, including the celebration of Seniet’s son. This helps her to get more clients, she said.

“Facebook plays an essential role in promoting my work,’’ Mekdes said, ”as I do not have an office, customers contact me via social media.’’

Adiyeshlem Legesse, a cabin crew member at Ethiopian Airlines, is one of the clients she got from social media.

“When I searched Facebook, I found so many events beautifully decorated,” Adiyeshlem told Fortune.

”Some parents even began celebrating their children’s birthday as if it is a wedding,” Dawed told Fortune.

His clients are children of the business community, employees of international institutions and expatriates.

For larger birthday parties, parents pay somewhere between 75,000 Br to 100,000 Br for face painting, stage decorations, equipment supply and event planning.

This growing demand has created an opportunity for Dawed’s business to expand. He is now organizing different events, including graduations and weddings.

During the past five years, a total of 600 entities took out business licenses to engage in event planning, according to data from the Addis Abeba Trade Bureau.

Parents have diverse preferences, according to Dawed and Mekdes.

”Most of them come to us with their own patterns downloaded from the internet,’’ Mekdes said. “To meet their demand, I plan to travel to Guangzhou, China to import essential items to meet my clients’ demands.’’

“I bring the colours I use for face painting from Britain, South Korea and China,” Dawed said. “I also received accreditation from the Food, Medicine & Health Care Administration Authority.”

Though the business is thriving, it has some challenges, according to event planners. Handling the children is the major one. They also stated that meeting all the demands of parents’ preferences in a timely manner is another challenge.

The business for celebrations of social events, especially birthdays, is expected to increase as the surge of young Ethiopians marry and start families.

Alazar Ahmed, a marketing expert with 16 years of experience, said that the amount of money spent on birthday celebration shows a growth of disposable income in some parts of the community.

National disposable income of Ethiopians grew from 61 billion dollars in 2014/15 to 73 billion dollars in 2016, according to Trading Economics, a website which provides information on 150 countries across the globe.

“Exploiting the opportunity by understanding peoples’ needs can be seen as a good phenomenon in the service industry,’’ Alazar said.

 

By DAWIT ASTATKE
FORTUNE STAFF WRITER





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