Woman rides on delivery business to make ends meet
By Noel Wandera
You'll never find a better sparring partner than adversity, says Lilian Muyonga, a lady who grew up afraid of riding even a bicycle.
But as adversity had it, she surmounted all fears and phobias to start not only mount motorbikes, but also went on to earn a living from riding a motorbike while at it.
She says for one to survive the harsh economic times, which are punctuated by constant inflation, one requires not only resilience, but the urge to go that extra mile to make ends meet.
“It is even more difficult for a lady who is a single parent living in Kenya's capital city Nairobi, particularly in the slims of Kawangware,” she says.
She started riding motorbikes last year after dealing with her phobias particularly the fear of riding motorbikes, adding that such issues are well known, particularly among ladies who have a unique challenges in their pursuit of riding due to among others dressing.
Lillian says that while she had to do away with skirts to hike a ride on motorbikes, among the real tough challenges she had to deal with the fear of falling off from motorbikes, and not having the physical strength to get it back up.
Others included servicing her motorcycle and the desire to maintain her own bikes without fear.
But with millions of unemployed youths, which Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) reports estimate at 8 million, Lilian decided to take the bull by the horns by leveraging on the male-dominated motorbike business to eke a living.
She said the sector which is estimated to serves close to 5 million customers daily serves a major opportunity, compounded with the ease of entry into the sector. This made her easily tap into the sector.
Thirty year old Lillian who is a single mother to a nine-year-old boy in class four says she is proof that women can do whatever they want to do, including thriving in the male dominated boda-boda industry.
She says she is the only lady rider at Jumia where she works as delivery person.
“Right now I am the only lady out of twenty riders at the office,” she says.
“But I am not intimidated at all plus we treat each other equally.”
Lilian is happy with the returns and attributes this to her hard work.
“I process between twenty and fifty parcels per day which gives me good returns compared to what I used to make when delivering on foot,” she said.
The motorbike rider says, according to her, the industry as one of the most lucrative businesses in the city and that was the main reason why she saved money to buy her first motorbike.
She does deliveries which include letters, food, bigger parcels and goods bought through Jumia, which is a mobile phone application where people purchase products.
Her role is to make deliveries to the customers and get paid per trip for the job.
“Riding has helped me a lot and I must say I have achieved financial independence which has enabled me live comfortably by feeding myself and my son without a lot of pressure,” Lilian says.
She now plans to use the opportunity and mentor others girls into the business and bring them out of poverty.
“I want to encourage ladies to wake up and venture into any available opportunity. What they need is just to put their mind into it and lots of passion. Everything else will follow,” she said.
She urges young girls to embrace even the jobs considered male domain to make a living.
“Look at me now. I have even started going back to school and even have time for me son after work,” Lillian said.
Lilian appreciates her job, because it gives her freedom and guarantees her job security.
She starts riding in the morning and is done by 4.00 PM, therefore by 5.00PM she rushes to class where she is currently pursuing a course to enhance her computer knowledge.
“Previously, I worked under so much pressure in the formal sector but this one allows me to spend more time with my son.”
Going forward, Lillian intends to set up an institution which will enable her train girls from Kawangware and make them also eke a living from riding motorbikes.
“I am currently mentoring two girls on how to ride motorbikes where I stay, so we ride near Kinyanjui Primary school in Kawangware and with time they will also be in this job, making a living,” she says.
To ensure that they have a nest to cushion both of them and the son, she has been saving Sh2,000 per month and hopes to increase the amount as business improves.
She says the recent eviction of motorbikes from Nairobi CBD has been a challenge for business but hopes it will be sorted since it is very inconveniencing to her operations.