One-on-one with Mark Bitange, TEDx events licensee

26-year-old Mark  Bitange, an event planner and TEDx events Licensee, is delivering life-changing talks to youth in the  ‘East’ of the City. A TEDx Talk is a forum for speakers to present and share focused ideas to select audiences in 18 minutes

Tell us more about yourself…

I work as an event planner; I conceptualise ideas, plan and host the actual event. Currently, I am a consultant events planner for various firms and groups in Nairobi, but I also have a small up and coming oufit, Stagers Studios, which I run on the sidelines.

You recently hosted the first TEDx event in Eastlands. How did you achieve this feat considering that such events have been a preserve of  upmarket areas?

First, I am avid TED talk follower.  And because of the passion I have for it, I listen to the talks daily and follow their blog.   I have yearned for an opportunity to bring it closer to my community, especially for the youth in Buru Buru to interact and share ideas to transform their lives. And that opportunity came knocking  in April last year when attend a TEDx event; Nairobi Idea Search. Here we were guided on how to apply for a licence to host a TEDx event. I thereafter embarked on the rigorous proces of applying for the licence. I was vetted and granted the licence and to host an event in Buru Buru, where I was born and bred.

What inspired your interest in hosting a TEDx event?

Being an event planner, I would have easily organised any other event and invited speakers, but I knew it would not have as much impact compared to one hosted under the TEDx banner. My goal was to organise an event that would not only have an impact, but inspire others in the community.  Under TEDx talks, speakers are invited events to give short, powerful  and thematic presentations. The emphasis is to simplify abstract topics and make them relatable to the select audiences. That’s exactly what I set to accomplish.

What did it take to plan the Buru Buru event?

Before being granted the licence, I outlined a clear theme of the event I wanted to host.  My theme was ‘Growing Out’.  I selected this because I wanted the speakers and the audience to share ideas and experiences on various ways they were stepping out of their comfort zones, especially in my neighbourhood where we had slightly more previleges and facilities compared to our other peers in Eastlands. I  selected the speakers, mostly from Buru Buru and discussed with them the theme. I hosted the event in September, exactly a year since  I got the licence. It took a lot of time and resources to make the event happen.

Beyond hosting such an event, how else have you been giving back to your community?

It has always been my desire to do something for my community, and for using my skills to inspire others would be the easiest. I, therefore, organise informal but unique forums for the youth to share ideas to exploit their talent and potential. Every month, I host a forum for events planners network, which has 250 members working under my tutelage. We discuss how we can give back to our society. And before end of this year, I plan to host a forum for youth to engage in dialogue with local political and opinion leaders.

Were you always interested in events planning?

No, I actually studied philosophy at Catholic University. I always thought of myself as a thinker, but then after completing my degree in 2015, I felt the need to turn my ideas into actions. I started by organising some few community events before landing a job with a major events company and since then there has been no turning back.

What do you love most about your job?

It’s dynamic. Every event is different from the previous one, a new learning experience. You also get to work first-hand with people from diverse backgrounds.

What are you planning next?

My TEDx licence is for a period of one year. I intend to use it exhaustively to impact my community. Organising a TEDx event for children is one of the events on the cards. And to benefit more people beyond Buru Buru, I am currently working with events planners secure a licence to host TEDx talks in other areas such as Kabete and Eastleigh.

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