Setting up an appointment with taxidriver- and owner Deonesios Kamotho Gikunju turns out to be not so easy. He’s a busy man, and if you want to meet him for an interview you have to go where he goes. Business comes first. So I drive through most of Nairobi (which also isn’t easy, you have to be veeery patient). I find mr. Kamotho outside USIU, the United States International University in Kenya. He’s waiting for a customer, and he can squeeze in half an hour for me.
In a café he tells me his story.
– Listen, when I was a kid, I often had to stay away from school, because there was no money for the school fees. That’s bad, really bad. We were poor, so at a young age I decided that when I came of age I’d be my own boss. I don’t want my son, who is almost four years, to go through the same as I did, he says. Memories from his poor childhood don’t reflect in his face, which is one big smile all the time.
Deonesios Kamotho Gikunju, 32, already has two cabs, one he drives himself, and two other drivers take turns driving the other one around the clock. All thanks to his own determination and with the help of Growth Africa and MYC4, who have provided the loans for the cabs. And a third cab is on its way, a brand new Toyota at a price of 9.000 USD. But why stop there?
– No, no it doesn’t stop here, he says, I’m planning to have maybe 20 vehicles, some of them trucks, and I’ll get there with the help of Growth Africa and MYC4, believe me, because the transportation sector here in Kenya is booming. I count on having my first truck in between three and six years.
However small the business is there always has to be a business plan. His plan is to save up money, so that he can buy a small piece of land every year as an investment.
– I can buy it for 150.000 Kshs., and a year or two from now I can sell it for maybe 500.000 Kshs, says Deonesios, who started out borrowing money at another micro finance institution, but eventually they could not meet his need for funds, so he turned to Growth Africa, where he got his first loan late 2008.
– They have been good to me no doubt, but I think their interest is a bit steep, and the period over which I have to pay back is a little short, he says.
With me on this visit is Faith Wambua from the MYC4 office in Nairobi and a loan officer from Growth Africa . He assures me that Mr. Kamotho is a really good customer, who always has paid back in time. He is currently on his third loan. You can learn more about his business and loans here. His customer comes out from the university. It’s time for him to go.
I’m left with the good feeling that he and his son can rest assured, that there will be enough money for his school fees – and more.