In its short history, just three years, SportPesa has shown intent to support Kenya’s sports industry. Understandably considering that it is also relying on the same industry to grow, it is putting its money where it will also reap.
The latest news from the betting company of their agreements with Hull City and Southampton has shown their determination to go global. It is natural that when a company has well exploited its habitat, it grows its wings to get newer challenges. One gain the company will make from the English Premier League exposure is betting on their platform. This will be both English teams but also African leagues.
Currently, these benefits may not be seen to the naked eye, but certainly only time will vindicate their investments. A worthy benefit to the growth of SportPesa is the growth of local talents. Their European deals, including with Arsenal will see training camps for coaches and other stakeholders offered by some of the best professionals in the industry. An eye for the local league will expose the nascent talent that does not always get opportunities to grow faster than it has in the past.
Looking at their investments in football, their perspective is beyond growing the talent on the pitch. They have sponsored the Kenyan Premier League (Sh450 million), Gor Mahia (Sh325 million) and AFC Leopards (Sh225 million). These are colossal investments but in April this year, they suspended sponsorship for Kenyan Premier League giants Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards due to hooliganism.
A month later the sponsorship was reinstated with conditions on how to end the vice. An agreement was reached that mobile courts are introduced in the stadia to help tame the vice and police officers alongside National Youth Service (NYS) to provide security. Since May this year when this agreement was reached, there have been no hooliganism incidences. This is a quick win to everyone, especially those who always feel the negative wrath of hooliganism such as destruction of property.
SportPesa also made an investment to the Kenya Rugby Union of Sh607 million. This shows their intent to grow sports as a whole. In a recent interview with KTN, the CEO Ronald Karauri added that they will be looking to support other sports entities in the country.
Not many private companies in Kenya have not only grown as fast as SportPesa but also invested in different sectors of our economy. As a private entity, the directors have the right to choose to invest their profits and dividends in any other industry. But they chose to direct a huge amount of their revenue to building the Kenyan sports with initiatives like #JengaGame and sponsorships bigger than any other corporate has ever done. This is certainly not wholly altruistic. When the sports industry grows, they will also grow; a win-win outcome.
As the industry grows and SportPesa also grows, this could trigger other corporate entities, both public and private to see how they can support different sectors of the economy to grow them. Certainly the government has failed to do its part in nurturing the sports and creative industry and therefore cannot be relied upon considering its history.
SportPesa has taken the Kenyan gambling scene by storm. Inter alia a preserve of the rich and in casinos, they have provided the reason for all and sundry to try their luck. How people, adults decide to spent their coins is something of their own devices. But more success than desperation, even by winning small amounts is proving an incentive for more to try their luck.
Kenyans should look at the growth or otherwise in the sports industry in the next few years to better get a glimpse at the value they will create. Today, some can scorn at it, tomorrow they may want to re-evaluate their previous thoughts.