By Isaac Akugizibwe
KIU, Main Campus - Andrew Smith Onen, founder of Graphics City Solutions and one of the 2020 Media Challenge fellows awaiting graduation, is not only a self-made young entrepreneur but one of the wittiest multi-talented individuals to have graced KIU as a student and entrepreneur.
Despite being a professional engineer, Andrew loves media more than anything else. He runs one of, if not the best, graphics and animations companies in KIU, Main Campus and Kansanga as well as one of Uganda’s fastest growing humorous but informative vlogs Newslaughs.
His personality like his company, Graphics city solutions, is a product of passion and necessity. His business Idea begun in his second year as an engineering student way back in 2011 when he realized he had no favorable space in the job industry yet he had strong desire to generate money.
Prior to this idea, Andrew had had challenges with tuition forcing him to try jobs like recording adverts where he says competition was unfavorable given his status yet he had to fight for the same space with already media stars then. He also tried looking for a radio job but in vain because he didn’t know Luganda.
‘’I even recorded a couple of commercial adverts with Swangz Avenue,’’ Andrew narrates.
The idea of Graphics City Solutions initially, A-Smith productions, begun with just a calendar. He would move around campus and Garanga hostel looking for whoever wanted a calendar with their photo. Being funny and friendly, Andrew easily found customers who loved and supported his idea. This made his business to mature at a high speed. He sold a calendar at 10,000 shillings even after introducing lamination and adding photos that were originally shot by him.
‘’People supported my idea which really enabled me to add value to the business for example I was able to buy a ceiling machine at 140000 after which I started laminating the calendars and maintaining the price,'’ Andrew admits.
When he realized that his customers were struggling with photos, Andrew immediately got a solution. He purchased a Sony camera at 250,000 and started taking people’s photos using natural light, editing them and producing their calendars at his initial price of 10000 shillings. This added value to his business that it started attracting the attention of students' associations who would at times buy in bulk.
‘’I started getting deals with associations who even started asking me to make them not only calendars but also certificates."
Despite being without an office, Andrew employed five ladies to help market his services outside the university premises and would pay them commission. This was in December 2013.
‘’The ladies loved the job,’’ Andrew admits.
He bought his first professional camera in November 2014 upon completion of his undergraduate degree in Engineering.
In May 2015, Andrew registered A-smith productions as Graphics City Solutions, a company that has since dominated and mastered the art of graphics and animations in Kansanga and KIU, Main Campus. The company currently operates two branches, one at Garanga hostel and another in the middle of Kansanga town.
Andrew attributes his success to being a perfectionist, an opportunist and a good time manager. He does everything at its right time. He says he had time for class and that for business.
"I don’t procrastinate things, I do everything at its time and most importantly, I am a perfectionist. I like things to be done appropriately and in the best way possible.’’
He disagrees with people who think he is successful due to being multipurpose or multitalented. He lives a life of purpose and action. He argues that many people are unsuccessful because they give a lot of time doing nothing.
‘’They squeeze a lot of time to fix something inside."
Andrew Onen says his greatest achievement so far is happiness. He drives himself and takes care of his family of two children and their mother.
He is currently pursuing a Diploma in Mass Communication and stronly believes his space in the media is still unoccupied because he was born for nothing else but media.
Indeed, Andrew Onen’s robust passion for media has seen him participate in a number of media competitions and exhibitions in recent years, one of the reasons to explain why he chose a Diploma in Mass Communication instead of a Masters in Engineering.