Patrick has been in charge of Kibera Cinemax for almost three years. He is a young passionate about cinema and about his community, who, before joining this project, was part of an association called GYFF (Guetto Youth Focus Foundation) that develops activities in the slum related to sports, art and sanitation. He is a very restless person who loves to learn, so, after seeing that two of his collegues hadn’t previously done the job as expected, he decided to accept the callenge and show what he knew he was capable of doing: starting a social business and making it sustainable.
In the beginning it was quite difficult and some inconveniences came up…The structure that sustained the cinema sank and had to be rebuilt with stronger pillars; the over-head projector and the sound system were not of sufficient quality to satisfy the customers; the place was not well insulated so there was a lot of noise coming from outside; the electrical installation had problems and, moreover, it still didn’t have enough loyal customers. However, thanks to the help of many people who have come to help, Patricks’ effort and commitment and, especially, to the fact that hope was never lost, we can say that Kibera Cinemax and Social Club is a project with present and future.
For Patrick, the community and his relationship with them is the key to this success. “The main thing is not to treat them as clients but as part of the family. People come to Kibera Cinemax because they feel at home. If you give people what they are asking for, they get involved and engage with you”.
In addition, as explained by the head of Kibera Cinemax, the cinema is of great help for the youth of Kibera. Both for young people who now have a place for leisure, and for children, since it has become a cultural space where they can go to watch suitable films for them and to enjoy workshops.
The development of the business
Nowadays the cinema has a fixed clientele that has grown a lot since the beginning. During the first months of project life, the days with no football match cashed between 100 and 200 ksh, which is the equivalent to 1 or 2 €; currently, on a normal day only issuing movies, the cinema earns around 600 ksh (6 €). And, on match days, the capacity is complete and the income can reach 50 €.
Regarding Kenyan tastes, Patrick points out that the most demanded films are those of DJ Afro (a Swahili narrator who talks about the plot of the films giving it a touch of humour), feature films of Indian origin, and the classic action ones are also highly requested. In some occasions Patrick tries to vary the billboard by introducing comedies and other genres, but they are not so well received by the public.
Also, the tradition of issuing religious films on Sundays had been followed for some time, which distinguishes Kibera Cinemax from other competition halls.
The surname “Social Club” comes from the rest of the activities that take place in Kibera Cinemax, as well as the issuing of films as a commercial activity. Documentaries are also broadcasted, as well as free children’s movies on weekends and school holidays, and educational workshops for schools, a women’s forum, concerts, etc. are organised.
In conclusion, Kibera Cinemax has become the place where people in the community feel like they are in their own living rooms.
Now, it is time to think about how the tomorrow of this social business will be, and Patrick is sure about it: “Kibera Cinemax will open more venues in other areas of Kibera, we will sell all kinds of snacks and refreshments, the entrance will have a better access and a greater visibility, and the benches will be comfortable enough to become a five-star cinema.”