After covering several roles at Doctors Without Borders, working as a policy maker for the Dutch Government and managing the Netherlands-African Business Council, Bob van der Bijl landed at Kibo Africa. The African continent enchanted Bob in the early 1990s, when he traveled four months around Southern Africa. Over the years, he kept exploring the beauty of Africa by traveling in more than forty countries.
Koneksie kicks off the New Year with a fresh strategy for Kibo and a big change.
We discovered that by separating the motorcycle taxi service from motorcycle production and sales, we come one step closer to achieving Koneksie’s mission: providing safe and reliable mobility for all. The great news is that this process led to the birth of a new start-up, which will be announced soon!
For a long time only big companies dared to do business in Africa, but nowadays even small businesses with big ambitions dare to start on the continent where the economy is growing steadily and opportunities are for grasp.
The Kibo Taxi Service, KTS, will start pilot operations in Nairobi from October 12th. This live simulation of KTS will run until December 2015 with our trained riders, the K150 and selected passengers.
In September Kibo attended the Total Motor Show in Nairobi and the annual Horticultural Fair in Naivasha. The Kibo K150 motorcycle was showcased publically for the first time. The attention was overwhelming. And the good news: the crowd loved the K150!
There are some recent changes we would like to share with you. From now on Kibo consists of two business units. Next to Kibo Motors that produces purpose-built motorcycles in Kenya, we are proud to introduce you to our professional motorcycle taxi service, Kibo Taxi Service (KTS).
In Nakuru, Kenya, local and international diary processors depend on the motorcycle for the daily collection of milk from the smallholder farmers. The motorcycle has proven to be an efficient mode of transport to collect milk from the farmers who are often located in remote and difficult to access areas.
It feels like a matter of seconds have just passed by but it has actually been 6 months, since I started my internship. It has been half a year of learning, sharing and discovering.
Joining Koneksie reminded me that I could contribute to making a social impact to this world. I enjoyed learning and sharing information about the mobility industry in Kenya, and the growing market of motorcycle taxis. It is amazing to see a business concept that addresses a social problem.
We are surrounded by many social problems that are known to us but we seldom acknowledge them. Everyone is busy and focusing on individual interest and future goals.
Joining the Koneksie team opened my eyes and ears to social problems. When I was living in Kenya, I grew up surrounded with some of these problems. I just never thought about it. In fact that goes for the majority of people living there. There are a few who address these problems but it is not as often as it should.
Business is growing in Kenya and young entrepreneurs are becoming innovative and taking initiative to contribute to this developing economy. However, the way of thinking and the mentality of these entrepreneurs is something to put into consideration.
In Kenya, the people are enthusiastic and eager to venture into new business opportunities. But you have to have the patience to build relationships first before getting to business.
Living from hand to mouth is a very common thing in Kenya. This is due to having very little income that is just enough to cater for basic needs. This way of living becomes a cycle that is difficult to break. Financial opportunities are limited.
As discussed in our previous blogs and also mentioned in this interview (click here), doing business in Africa is an opportunity that should not be overlooked.
The motorcycle taxi entrepreneurship is spreading at a fast rate across African countries. There are so many motorcycle brands of all kinds that dominate the market. Koneksie is aware that these motorcycles are actually not built for transportation of people and goods, and do not meet the expectations of people in these regions.
The moment Betty arrived at our factory in Nairobi, she informed us that she had to ditch the motorcycle taxi she was using. Apparently the driver was going at a speed that was too fast for her and he did not want to listen when she requested him to slow down.
During our user sessions, we did learn that most boda boda passengers are female. Their experience and opinion contributed to the adjustments and development of our brand Kibo. Betty’s example is just one of the little things that gets on the nerves of boda boda female passengers.
In Nairobi, on Mbagathi Way heading towards Ngong Road, in between the Shell gas station and the roundabout, there is someone selling dark green coat racks. There are 4 to 5 coat racks parked on the side of the road and he is walking in between the cars parked in the evening rush hour traffic jam, trying to sell his coat racks. It always fascinates me, as it seems a poor choice of goods to sell in a jam.
You can give a tool to someone but if you don’t show him or her how to use it, then it is for nothing.
Designing a suitable motorcycle for mobility purpose in Kenya is not enough. We discovered that the operators faced challenges when it came to the maintenance of their motorcycle. We therefore incorporated a maintenance program as part of Kibo.
In Swahili, the word “Uhuru” means freedom. We are pleased to have Uhuru, not as the current president of Kenya, but ‘the’ mechanic of Kibo in Kenya. He is Kibo’s freedom of road safety.
In Kenya, small-scale trade is so popular that it even has its own informal sector called the “jua kali.” Jua kali means hot sun, which expresses this sector of traders and small businesses operating in the open air, sheds or small shops. Craftsmen, street vendors, plumbers, contractors, mechanics and any other small enterprise dominate this industry.