Bejay Mulenga is a 26-year-old serial entrepreneur who has already celebrated a decade of establishing businesses across industries. His venture Supa Network has provided its services to some of the world’s most influential brands, including Facebook and Apple and offered them essential advice on effective ways to connect, recruit and understand the next generation of young people.
Bejay Mulenga’s entrepreneurial journey began in secondary school when he was 12; he organized a talent show single-handedly. As a young boy, Muleng nurtured a valuable skill: the ability to utilize whatever resources he had available to pull a project together. Mulenga managed various tasks such as recruiting talented performers, finding and booking the ideal venue at the right price, marketing the event in his school and working out the finances to make the event a hit as well as profitable. Mulenga’s talent for event management meant that the talent show was sold-out and was a great success. It was the first step in his entrepreneurial journey that continues to flourish till date. Mulenga said, “The whole process gave me a buzz to run more events and projects. Still aged 13, I fundraised £35,000 from the local council to rebuild a derelict studio and rehearsal space at the youth centre.”
Mulenga soon moved on to his next venture that involved opening and running a small tuck shop whilst at secondary school, which soon generated a decent profit. Mulenga recalled, “Whilst at school aged 14, I managed to set up and run my school’s first tuck shop, which turned over £15,000 by the end of that academic year. My bug for business continued to grow over the forthcoming years.”
Due to his fascination with business, Mulenga soon enrolled himself as a business student but considered the course highly theoretical and not practical. He found that he was acquiring more practical business knowledge through his entrepreneurial efforts that helped give him an insight into how businesses functioned.
Around the same time, he familiarised himself with the concept of franchising. Mulenga was fascinated with the potential for his business to grow by opening his brand of tuck shop across many schools in the vicinity. In addition, he also wanted to offer students like himself a practical education of the fundamentals of business. He registered his company under the name ‘Supa Tuck’ in 2012. He said, “My first company, Supa Tuck, was set up when I was 16; the company goal was to have trading tuck shops in all schools across the UK within five years. I knew my tuck shop model worked and had proven its success repeatedly.”
By the time he finished presenting his idea, many schools were eager to set up a shop for their students. Within just four years, Mulenga had worked with more than 5,000 students and received an invitation to Downing Street to meet the Enterprise Advisor to the former Prime Minister David Cameron, Lord Young.
Mulenga recalled, “As a young black boy from London, I never envisioned being invited to Downing Street.” Chasing his business idea as a young boy with perseverance and hard work had brought his vision to life. Downing Street was soon followed by a speech delivered at the Conservative Party conference, at just 19 years to discuss enterprise for the youth.
At the time, Mulenga’s peers who had studied with him at university or recently left school to pursue their passion were struggling to find good jobs. This made him reflect on the skills he had developed while he ran his tuck shop business and figured that he could share his expertise on the topic with others. He set up the ‘Supa Market’ to fulfil this objective, and in 2015 he arranged a pop-up market operated by teens at the Truman Brewery in Shoreditch, East London. The pop-up functioned as a mini department store, where several young entrepreneurs pitched and sold various products. The pop-up soon had more than 10,000 customers, and in 2016 his efforts were recognized by the Queen of England when, at 21, he was the youngest recipient of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise.
Fueled by these wins, Mulenga established The Supa Academy pop-up that focused on retail products and helped young entrepreneurs sell their products. During 2016, the influencer industry was flourishing. Many of the influencers were either teenagers or in their early 20s, and Mulenga noticed that some influencers could not obtain fair payment terms due to their weak negotiation skills. He saw this as an opportunity to share his skills since he was well equipped to negotiate with established brands and relate to influencers in a similar age group. Thus, Mulenga soon embarked on a new venture called Filli Studios. The company has now worked and managed some of the best-known influencers in the United Kingdom. His desire to help young people gain business experience did not stop there; he soon established his next business, the Supa Network.
Supa Network brings all of his business endeavours under one roof, ranging across creative content production, event production, Gen-Z marketing, influencer marketing and recruitment for large companies. Supa Network has worked with global powerhouses, including Facebook, The Office Group, and the Cabinet Office. A highlight of this was training 3,000 people in the last twelve months on digital skills in partnership with Facebook.
While talking about the future of business, he says, “Social entrepreneurship is the future for my generation of businessmen and women, a lot of my peers and myself personally actually have passion behind what they do, as working for money solely simply isn’t enough to keep us going when times get tough.”