Saturday, March 28, 2020
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Boda Boda business is a temporary fix to lack of employment and can breed a monster

Coming by a job in Kenya has really been tough with our colleges and universities churning out graduates every year. So many qualified individuals in the market but the business environment has been bad in the country with a good majority of listed companies issuing profit warnings, private companies downsizing or totally winding up. In the past one year, thousands of people have been laid off due to redundancies or change in government policy (like in the gaming business recently).

For the youth, most of them graduates, the easy way out is the now popular but dreaded boda boda business. However, the economics around this business are not attractive especially in rural areas and smaller towns. In bigger towns and cities, one can make really good money but have to do with hostile operating environment especially presented by the County Governments’ Inspectorate Teams. In rural areas, fares go as low as Ksh 20. How many trips can one make to be able to fuel, maintain the motorbike, pay themselves and put aside some savings for a rainy day?

Not sure of the costs, but lets say, a motorbike costs Ksh 80,000, what if ten young people come together and pull the Ksh 800,000 in a sacco or a company and put up a value addition plant for produce available in their area? It is a sustainable investment and easily scalable. However, county governments have not legislated on the supportive structures to aid entrepreneurship. What do Trade CECs do when they report to their offices every day 8-5, of course when they’re not attending to foreign bench-marking trips or doing political rounds with the Governors?

The industry is highly unregulated and most operators are a law unto themselves. The convenience they provide cannot be wished away. It’s not a doubt this industry drives the economy with Motorcycle Assemblers Association of Kenya (MAAK), saying there are about 600,000 commercial motorcycles currently operating in Kenya.

The boda boda business is just an easy way out of a situation, which is actually a timebomb. The reason you find most boda boda riders behave like thugs, any small incident on the roads involving one of them, their reaction is clearly like they are venting and releasing their stress.

Policy makers are blind to this fact but it will come to haunt them one day soon. Job creation cannot be on boda boda business entirely. A frustrated graduate who worked hard for four or so years, is just building up anger each time he kickstarts that motorbike, that anger will come out one way or another. This business may not solve our unemployment but might actually create a monster from frustrated individuals.

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