Moses Kitanga, a 28 year old Ugandan national, resides with his two brothers in Mutungo, Kampala. He runs a bodaboda business (a bicycle/motorcycle taxi) and transports people from stage 7, Luzira - Kampala. Judith Auma of The African Executive talked to him and he shared his experience.
A.E: When did you start this business?
Kitanga: Four years ago.
A.E: Why Bodaboda business?
Moses: Because it did not require much capital. When my father passed away, my mother could meet all our needs because her job wasn’t well paying. After completing my ordinary level exams, she lost her job. I joined a college and began studying Mechanical Engineering but couldn’t go far due to lack of school fees. I decided to get into this business to meet the family’s needs and save for my college education.
A.E: How did you start?
Moses: I was introduced to a gentleman who rented out motorcycles. He gave me a motorcycle on condition that I pay him Ugsh7000 daily. The rest of the day’s income was mine irrespective of how much I made. We signed a 2 year contract. After its expiry, I got another motorcycle from a friend, who offered it to me at Ugsh 2 million. I was required to give him Ugsh50, 000 every week for 10 months, then posess the motorcycle. I expect to have paid him in full by December.
A.E: How do you operate?
Moses: I wake up at 5.00 am, have breakfast and then go to my station by 6.00am to serve students and the working class. I work until 11.00pm.
A.E: How much do you earn on average daily?
Moses: This business has its good and bad seasons. During school days and the rainy season, I get more clients compared to when the schools are closed and when it is dry. On good days, I make on average Ugsh20,000 after buying fuel, feeding and paying the owner of the motorcycle. On bad days, I make only about Ugsh10,000.
A.E: Do you face any major challenges in this business?
A.E: Which ones?
Moses. First, I work through unpredictable weather conditions. Business booms when it’s rainy and wet. Such conditions expose me to cold and at times I end up getting sick. At times, I do ride people I do not know who turn out to be thugs. We do not have specific routes or places we go to. Some of my collegues in business have been beaten badly, lost their motorcycles or lives to people who parade as clients.
Accidents are endless. Careless taxi drivers and owners of private vehicles do not give way on the road. They see us as business rivals hence injuring us deliberately.
We also have the National Bodaboda Association, which is supposed to take care of our interests and to become a member one pays Ugsh9000. The goals of the association are not clear to us, and they are putting us under a lot of pressure to make monthly contributions.
A.E: Anything positive?
Moses: Yes. At least I am able to meet my family’s basic needs. Besides, I am already saving for my college. I intend to complete my Diploma in Mechanical Engineering and expand my business. While I own the taxi business, I can also repairs vehicles, motorcycles and bicycles.
A.E: Any advice for upcoming entrepreneurs?
Moses: Persistence and dedication is the way to go in business. Business is good as long as you know what you want, work hard, be honest and meet your clients’ demands. I call upon people to start up businesses and get rid of poverty.
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