Dorothy started her boda boda business in 2016. At the time, she was a student at the University of Eldoret pursuing a Bachelors degree in Microbiology. The boda boda business is based in Eldoret and her motorbikes operate between Maili Nne and Eldoret town. The boda boda business sometimes operates in areas like Kipkaren, Junction and Annex.
How Dorothy Started Her Boda Boda Business
Dorothy started her boda boda business with only one motorbike. Being a student, she didn’t have enough money to start the business. Her startup capital was a loan given to her by her mother from a women’s group. She topped up the money with some savings she had to buy her first motorbike.
She later expanded her business by buying nine additional motorbikes, one after the other. Dorothy says she ventured into the boda boda business since she wanted a business that required little supervision. At the time, she was a student and she would attend classes and then go to collect daily earnings from the boda boda operators in the evening.
She would let her motorbikes to boda boda operators and then collect Ksh 300 from each of them in the evening. There was a business gap in the market since there were only a few boda bodas. She launched the boda boda business to fill a market gap and generate income from it for her livelihood.
Dorothy’s Earnings and Costs of Running the Boda Boda Business
Each bodaboda operator pays compulsory Ksh 300 per day whether the operator worked or not or whether he earned, or he didn't. Payment is done at the end of each day except on Sundays. The ten motorbikes make Ksh 72,000 every month.
The business has expenses with each motorbike requiring service twice every month. The service involves changing the oil and minor repairs that add up to Ksh 1,000 for a single motorbike. This sums to Ksh 10,000 for the ten bikes. She also has annual expenses, including changing insurance cover and tires, which sums to Ksh 15,000 per bike once every year.
Challenges Dorothy Faces in Her Boda Boda Business
Dorothy's biggest challenge in the business is getting an honest boda boda operator. Some of the boda boda operators also take advantage of her being female by being rude when she asks for payment. Others switch off their phones in the evening when she will be calling to ask for payment.
Another challenge she faces in the motorbike business are some operators being careless with the motorbikes. She is forced to repair the motorbike at least once every two weeks. The other challenge is with the police officers who arrest her boda boda business operators and she has to pay a fine to get her motorbike out of the police station.
Biggest Milestone Dorothy has Achieved in her Boda Boda Business
The boda boda business has helped Dorothy to get a regular flow of income daily. Besides, she says that her most significant milestone was buying a taxi using a bank loan. She borrowed the loan using motorbikes' logbooks as security. With the loan, she bought a Toyota Noah taxi that transports passengers between Eldoret and Nairobi. Dorothy hopes to expand her boda boda business to a fleet of taxi cars.
Lessons Dorothy has Learnt from the Boda Boda Business
When she started her business, she would let her motorbikes to anyone. However, she realized that she was incurring lots of expenses from rogue and careless operators. She now uses older people to help her find good boda boda operators. She also has to sign a contract with the operator and copy their identity card before giving out a bike. She also has to make sure that the operator has a license. This way, she has managed to minimize risks and reduce repair and service expenses for her motorbikes.
She says she does not allow the boda boda operators to stay with her money for more than two days. The longer an operator stays with the money, the higher the chances of running away with it. The operators tend to run away with money when they realize they have accumulated a lot.
Again, she makes sure that she is the one who takes the motorbikes for service and repairs. She advises those wishing to start a similar business not to trust motorbike operators so much. Otherwise, the motorbike will never be taken for service and it will cost them more when it develops a mechanical issue.
Dorothy’s business does not require much of her attention and she can attend to other things. She has managed to start other businesses like Mpesa business which is her other source of income.