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African Kaleidoscope Events


The Western Cape: Tech Volunteers and Small Business InitiativeImage of lady standing infront of a painting

#GoDigitalWC Business Support Success Story:


African Kaleidoscope Events 


In this article, we profile Alison Barnard of African Kaleidoscope Events as our second case study of entrepreneurs who have benefited from our Tech Volunteers Initiative. 



Established in 2003 and operating for 17 years, African Kaleidoscope Events is run by Alison Barnard. The business offers event management services across corporate and government sectors. They manage events in all shapes and sizes - conferences, gala events, teambuilding, corporate hospitality, activations etc. They also provide stand-alone services like catering, décor, entertainment, sound, staging, marquees and event infrastructure.



image of decor, sparkles, tables neatly decorated


Alison, has a background in Human Resources and before starting her business, she worked as a trainer at SANBI (Kirstenbosch) training soft skills and customer care to front line staff. During this period, she was involved in arranging a number of internal and external events such as being part of the team for the Chelsea Flower Show in Lodon, for the organization between 1994 and 1999. She then also worked Robben Island Museum as an Event Manager coordinating high-profile events. At present, Alison is the owner and manager of African Kaleidoscope Events (AKE) and was a mentor for CPUT events intern and other startup businesses.

"I love what I do no matter how hectic it can become. If  you enjoy what you do then I guess it's not work, but living your passion."


How to you currently promote your services?

I currently promote my services mainly through social media as well as a website that I want to modernise once the struggles of Covid-19 have eased and we can start to earn money again. We want to bring the webiste upt to date with a trendier look and also offer more digitally through the website. I also want to explore analytics and work on driving more traffic to the site.


What digital platforms/technologies are you currently using?

I have a presence on the main social media platfroms that include Facebook, Instragram, LinkedIn, Twitter and WhatsApp. I’ve been learning about different platforms for online meetings like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webinar Jam, etc which I aim to incorporate into my business service.


What ambitions did you have for your business (in terms of digital technology) before COVID-19?Diagram

Before Covid-19 I knew I had to do something, but there were other priorities. Digital improvements fell by the wayside as business slowed down and instead I needed to spend money on other operational necessities.


How has your business been affected by Covid-19?

The events industry has been one of the hardest-hit industries as there has been no income. It’s nearing six months with no work. I kept myself busy by attending various webinars for personal growth as well as educating myself on what the industry is doing. I started looking at hybrid events and a different way of engaging with clients. So, going forward, we (industry) need to be more knowledgeable and gear ourselves up to the new protocols in place that will regulate events going forward.


Why have you identified the use of technology platforms to support and promote your business?

One has to follow the trends as everything is done online. During lockdown most people were engaged on social media and you had to promote your business in any way you could. Customers and clients needed to see that while Covid-19 lives, you and your business are not dead. My focus has therefore mainly been on promoting my business and the services we offer, as well as looking into new ways to run events.


Why have you decided to take part in this initiative?

I saw the initiative promoted on the JUMP for Entrepreneurs platform. I like this platform as it has a lot of information that supports businesses as well as improve the visibility of my business. I decided to take part in the initiative as technology changes rapidly. I used the opportunity to learn more and to try and educate myself. When one is busy you tend not to focus on this and I had no excuse during the lockdown period to not take up this opportunity.


How has the Tech Volunteer and Business Support Initiative helped you and your business?

The support I needed was to improve the social media presence of my business. We engaged over three sessions and the volunteer helped a great deal. She provided me with a template to complete that allowed her to focus on specific things I needed assistance with. She provided guidance on how to advertise using social media and has left me with a step-by-step template of how to do it.

We had interesting discussions about technology and how companies are using Covid-19 to promote their business and interests as well as generating leads. She provided me with a second template that I will use to drive my digital transformation strategy, this includes developing a social media strategy that I have started on and am implementing.


Do you feel the technologies identified will help your business, and how?

It will help the business to do targeted advertising as I have struggled with this in the past and I have already worked on applying it, as per our discussions. The tech volunteer also suggested I compile a social media strategy to help and guide me in achieving the marketing goals.


Are there any immediate tangible benefits from the Initiative?

The support I needed was to promote the services offered by my business. Based on the guidance received, I am getting more ‘likes’, exposure and traffic to my social pages that I have not gotten before when posting event adverts or promotions. I’m also a bit more knowledgeable on how to do this better.


What’s next?

I’m planning on installing fibre to get faster internet speed and then, once things pick up on the events side, to redo my website and look into online advertising and promotions.

I am also looking at doing hybrid events (a combination of online and in person events) and am suggesting this to clients. I am still developing protocols for these types of events, but I see this is the way the industry is going. I want to be ready for this change as there will be many opportunities for this going forward.


How can we learn from this process? What worked well for you, what can we do better?

I’m not sure what you can learn from the process, but it would be good to offer this training to all businesses as it’s an area we all struggle with. Doing it in a class setup, when one can do that again, would be fantastic! Or even as a hybrid event.


Contact Details :

Allison Barnard

Tel: 021 762 2613

Cell: 083 414 6729







#GoDigitalWC is an initiative of the Digital Economy unit of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT).  It aims to help and support SMMEs with practical tools, tips and information to move or expand their business online, and to encourage them to use digital technologies to improve their operational efficiencies and competitiveness.

For more information on our projects and other resources please visit:


#GoDigitalWC and related tools for SMMEs:

#GoDigitalWC Webinars

The #GoDigitalWC Webinar Series is a weekly, free lunchtime series of online events aimed at ‘non-tech’ SMMEs.  To access recordings of these webinars,  visit


#GoDigitalWC Tech Articles Series

Our #GoDigitalWC articles are also aimed at assisting businesses with practical advice, tips and tools to participate in the digital economy, move your business online and adopting digital technologies.  The #GoDigitalWC articles can be found at


Jump for entrepreneurs

Jump for entrepreneurs is a mobile phone application enabling entrepreneurs and business owners in the Western Cape to obtain all the resources they require to start, scale and grow their companies.

The app is free and can be downloaded on the App Store (IoS) and Google Play (Android) (tip: search on ‘Jump for entrepreneurs’).

For more information on the Jump for entrepreneurs visit or


I-CAN Learn

This initiative, developed in partnership with Google Digital Skills Africa and IBM Digital-Nation Africa, provides citizens with access to free digital skills training courses to enhance their personal digital literacy portfolios.

For more information and to register for courses, visit




The content on this page was last updated on 2 October 2020