Peter Muli dropped out of university to set up a company to hire out bikes
The Human Development Index (HDI) 2018 revealed the country had a whopping 26.2 per cent unemployment rate, indicating a large section of population has been suffering from chronic joblessness.
Consequently, many youths in the country are looking for ways to wrestle harsh economic challenges through innovations and self-employment endeavours.
Peter Muli, a 22-year-old from Machakos county, is one of these youth. His parents died when he was only eight months old. Having been brought up in a poverty-stricken home, he learnt the hard way to make ends meet and started saving at the age of 16.
“I would forego enjoying drinks and fancy raves in school to save a coin or two and in the process developed discipline in saving money,” he says.
Even after earning a B+ grade that qualified him for a degree course at Kenyatta University in year 2014, Muli disregarded joining university over what he termed as ‘a wrong course’.
He ended up at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Jkuat) to pursue accounting, but later dropped out to venture into business.
While at school, Muli met Peter Muthee, a like-minded friend pursuing survey. “Muthee had a friend, Samuel Gitau, who used to import bikes for resale. We told him about hiring bikes to students at a fee, saying it would help us overcome our poverty,” he says. This was in 2015.
Gitau was impressed and loaned them a few bikes. “We started hiring out the bikes at a fee. Initially. We started at one shilling per minute, grew to Sh50 per hour and eventually to Sh300 per day,” he explains.
In 2016, the business had grown so much that Muli and Muthee paid off the loaned bikes and purchased 30 new ones. They eventually opened up Cycle Kenya, a company that hires bikes to students in institutions of higher learning.
Currently, they offer their services to Kenyatta University, Mount Kenya University and Jkuat. “We make Sh45,000-80,000 from every stall in bad months. During peak season, we even make Sh120,000 from every branch,” Muli says.
Aside from hiring bikes, the company also conducts weekly hiking events. They provide bikes and lead groups of hikers a team to different places in the country. The only catch is that one must be a student.
“You must be a student to qualify for our services. We have an application form you must fill in and include details such as your national identification and school identity. We create an account for you on which we calculate the hours you have spent with our bike and the cost,” he reveals.
Cycle Kenya has grown from five to 146 bikes, which Muli says has continually increased their profit. The company has also employed five people. “We hope to grow further and purchase more bikes, which will propel us to open up stalls in all public and private universities in the country,” he says.
Muli adds that his main tests have been expensive maintenance of bikes and levies by the county government. The youngster says more than 10 other people have copy-pasted his idea and are currently his major competitors.
To counter the growing competition, Muli says that the company has been replacing their bikes yearly with new ones to captivate new customers.
Muli says that the company only specialises with ex-UK bikes, which are giant mountain climbers, durable and whose maintenance cost is low compared to China-made bikes, which are fancy, but less durable.
To further entice his customers, Muli has come up with bicycle tariffs that offer points to clients whenever they use his bikes, which are redeemable for free rides.
He advises the youth to venture in their passion, avoid drugs and engaging in societal vices and instead channel their energies to bettering their lives through self-employment. “With a small capital of at least Sh50,000, any youth can do something constructive. This loan is accessible from online money lenders,” he adds.
Asked on whether he would like to go back to school, the youngster says he welcomes the idea only if it will not lead him to seeking employment.
“I hope to go back to school to add knowledge skills after pursuing an entrepreneurial course but not to be employed. I have never been employed and I will never if all goes well,” he says.
Buying knowledge from Microsoft founder and billionaire Bill Gates, Muli says passion, hard work and zeal for more wealth will continue to give him sleepless nights.