Kenyan Car Rental startup Zuru has launched a vehicle-sharing app that allows customers to get verified car owners. Zuru Car Rental enables car owners – called hosts – to upload images and descriptions of their cars, and set rental prices. Users are able to book and pay for the rentals through the app.
The company’s chief executive officer (CEO) Rawlings Otini said the startup has signed up more than 100 car owners and is aiming to increase transparency within the car rental industry by applying the Airbnb model, additional security features, and insurance. “Many innocent Kenyans have been conned after being asked to send a deposit to book a car only for the supposed car owners to vanish and switch off their phones,” Mr Otini says. “We want to bring credibility in the market.”
The company started as a car hire agency two years ago – linking car owners to clients – but moved to automate the process in order to easily scale the service to remote areas. It has signed up cars in Nairobi, Eldoret and Kisii. Otini said Zuru is planning to launch in Kisumu.
He said taxis are expensive if the customer is traveling for more than 50 kilometers while public transport is not safe due to the Covid-19 pandemic and other security considerations. PSVs are also not flexible and cannot fit in the schedules of most customers.
The demand for car rentals peaked during the Christmas festivities as more families sought for safer transport modes to avoid exposure to the Coronavirus in public transport.
“PSVs have their carrying capacity reduced due to social distance and so demand for car hire has jumped as many Kenyans want to ensure that their families are safe from Covid-19 infections,” the CEO said.
The Zuru platform enables customers to get verified car owners while car owners can unlock capital from their cars.
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The so-called AirBnB of cars seeks to help car owners pay for the cost of maintaining their vehicles such as insurance and reduce congestion in the city by enabling car sharing. The platform will see people whose cars are usually packed at home due to traffic jams start to hire them out without looking for a broker.
The app increases KYC (know your customer) measures using customer phone data and social media to ensure customers and car owners are verified before being allowed to list their cars. The car hire market in Kenya is estimated to be worth Ksh5 billion per year, according to a study conducted by the European magazine Euromonitor.
Zuru app also seeks to ensure that cars are efficiently utilised since most are usually parked for seven straight hours every day except when the owner is going to work and back.
The app has both self-drive and chauffeur drive options.