Woman rides on delivery business

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019 00:00 |
Lilian Muyonga, a delivery person at Jumia, is the only female rider out of 20 colleagues. Photo/PD/Noel Wandera

Growing up, Lilian Muyonga was afraid of riding a bicycle, let alone a motorbike. But as adversity had it, she surmounted this phobia not only to ride motorbikes but also earn a living from it.

“You’ll never find a better sparring partner than adversity, Muyonga says. 

She says for one to survive the harsh economic times, currently 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 woman who is a single parent living in Nairobi, particularly in the slums of Kawangware,” she says.

With millions of unemployed youths, currently estimated to be at eight million, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) reports, Muyonga decided to take the bull by its horns by leveraging on the male-dominated motorbike business to eke out a living.

She saw the sector, estimated to serve close to five million customers daily, as a major opportunity, especially since entry is easier.

At 30, the mother to a nine-year-old boy says she is proof that women can achieve whatever they aspire to do, including thriving in the male dominated boda-boda industry.

Overcoming fear

She is the only lady rider at Jumia, where she works as a delivery person. “Right now, I am the only woman out of 20 riders at the office. I am not intimidated at all, plus we treat each other equally,” she adds.

Since she started riding bikes last year, she has had to remove skirts and dresses from her wardrobe to make riding easier and faster.

She also had to overcome her fears, especially the thought of falling off from a motorbike. Other things she had to learn include servicing and maintaining her bike.

Muyonga is happy with the returns and attributes this to her hard work. “I deliver between 20 and 50 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 the industry is one of the most lucrative businesses in the city and that was the main reason she saved money to buy her first motorbike.

She does deliveries, which include letters, food, bigger parcels and goods bought through Jumia, an online shopping platform.

 “Riding a motorbike has helped me and I must say I have achieved financial independence, which has enabled me to live comfortably, put food on the table for my son and me without a lot of pressure,” Muyonga says.

She now plans to mentor other girls and encourage them to join the business.

“I am currently mentoring two girls from my neighbourhood and teaching them how to ride motorbikes. With time, they would also join me in this job and make a living from it,” she says.

She adds: “I encourage women to wake up and venture into any available opportunity. What they need is just to put their mind into it and have a lot of passion. Everything else will follow,” she adds.

She urges young girls not to be intimidated and embrace even the jobs considered to be a male domain.

Muyonga appreciates her hustle because it gives her freedom and guarantees her job security. Her schedule starts early in the morning and by 4 pm she calls it a day, to make it for a 5 pm class.

“Look at me now. I have gone back to school for a computer course and have time for my son after work,” Lillian said.

Decent life

Previously, Muyonga worked under so much pressure in the formal sector and appreciates that her job now comes with some flexibility.  

And she saves Sh2,000 per month for a better future. She hopes to increase the amount as business improves.

However, the recent ban of motorbikes from Nairobi central business district has been a challenge for business and Muyonga hopes it would be sorted out soon as it is inconveniencing her operations.

More on Lifestyle