Titus Mumo started with one car and now runs a fleet of 25 in under two years
When Titus Mumo started his taxi business in mid 2010, he was looking for a soft landing after leaving his job at the airport, where he had watched many young men eke out a living from cabs. Gradually, it became a fulltime job – running one car bought from his employment savings – and so the budding entrepreneur started thinking of growing it into a serious business that would employ more people and generate a good income.
“I started with my own car,” says Mumo, the Managing Director of Africabs Tours Ltd, “but later I leased cars from business associates until I managed the threshold that would allow me to get bank loan to expand my business.” As he struggled with planning to expand his business, Mr Mugo met a man who would turn around his operations. Mr Wambugu Thuo had just enrolled for a MSME Business Mentorship Training at the Region Centre for Enterprise Development (RCED), a division of Inoorero University that focuses on nurturing entrepreneurship through capacity building.
As part of the practical course, Thuo was required to have an entrepreneur to mentor and he chose Mumo and his company. Africabs Tours Limited offers corporate and individual cab services, corporate car leasing, car hire and tours as well as air ticketing services. “At first I was hesitant since I was busy with my own schedules and I thought this would slow me down,” says Mumo. “After a couple of meetings I decided to enroll and gave it my full attention.”
He says the six-month business mentoring experience was accommodative and felt like they were running the business together, churning out new concepts and innovations. “The mentoring experience was phenomenal in the sense that it brought a lot of business logic. Most of the resolutions that we came up with are still being implemented. It wouldn’t have come at a better time. If most businesses were to have mentors, the success rate would be so high.”
As a growing business, book-keeping, operational and financial planning, human resource management and daily operations were a challenge. The mentor helped Mumo design practical business models and strategic guidelines that turned around the company. According to Mr Daniel Huba, the RCED Coordinator, there is an emerging trend by organizations to outsource transport services; which has created a huge business opportunity for most entrepreneurs.
However, most businesses fail to achieve maximum customer satisfaction and customer retention by delivering unreliable, low quality and in some cases mediocre services. “There is need to mentor growing businesses, particularly those operating in poorly structured systems such as the normally chaotic transport sector. Business mentorship helps to ensure improved service delivery as well as increased business sustainability.
The 6-months mentorship program focuses on training business mentors on how to generate advice and provide technical support on growth opportunities on a regular basis to entrepreneurs in the formal and informal sector across East Africa.” He argues.
Mumo, 28, says he is inspired by former US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan’s famous quote: “I have found no greater satisfaction than achieving success through honest dealing and strict adherence to the view that, for you to gain, those you deal with should gain as well.” Going into business, Mumo was motivated by two things: serving people and getting a sense of satisfaction. “I didn’t know I would end up in the hospitality industry,” he says. “I loved computers so much that I thought I would end up being a computer engineer.”
But then he discovered that there were a lot of players in the transport industry but service was often wanting. He believes that money is just the fuel that helps you run business while clients are the engine. In just one and half years, after quiting his Sh13,000 salary job, Mumo now operates a fleet of 25 cabs offering services within Nairobi, with a monthly turnover of Sh5 million, and targets to acquire 30 cabs by March 2012. This is no mean feat to the Information Technology (IT) Diploma graduate who is now clicking in the hospitality industry.
Mumo, who has employed 48 staff members directly, says he aspires to mentor others as well. “Were it not for this programme the last seven months of our business would not have been the same,” he adds. “The only thing mentoring by an RCED mentoring trainee costs you is your time. One has to sacrifice some time from the daily activities to be able to engage with your mentor. I can’t regret the plans that I put on hold for the business growth, I thank Mr Thuo and RCED for their enormous support that has seen my business grow to greater heights.”
Now Mumo plans to introduce new products for executive clients, which will anchor the rollout to other major towns in Kenya and ultimately go regional in the next two years.