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From tout to high-flying CEO of a tour company

By By LILLIAN KIARIE | November 5th 2013
        Mr Kevin Omondi during the interview


Kevin Ogondi started out as a matatu tout, but left his friends goofing off at bus stops to start a tour company. Today, he is making millions and has provided employment for some of his old colleagues.

At what age did you make your first million?

At 27.

How did you get started?

I hated lazing around after I completed my education, so I joined my peers at bus stops and became a matatu tout for vehicles going through the Eastleigh route.

However, I kept looking for another job. Deep down, I always felt that I deserved much better in life and that the sky was the limit.

Eventually, I got a job as a tour guide and embraced it with a lot of dedication and hard work. Later on, my driving skills got me a position as a driver for clients being transferred.

In the early 2000s, the tourism sector was booming and I was able to save quite a chunk of money — I had developed a habit of using less than an eighth of my salary and saving the rest.

I dreamt of owning a Land Rover that I could use to transport tourists on safari to their favourite destinations in Kenya. After a gruelling two years, I was able to save slightly over Sh800,000 and purchased a tour van.

Since my two years’ job experience had equipped me with the knowledge I needed in the touring sector, I resigned and started my own company dubbed Suntaker Tours.

I expanded the business with time and then changed its name to Sun La Vie Tours and Travel Company. We now own several vans and three land cruisers among other assets.

We have a staff of more than 10, but rely quite a bit on casuals during peak tourist seasons.

What pushed you to start your own company?

I was tired of being in a comfort zone and having my salary determined by someone whom I was always trying to please and satisfy. I wanted to be my own boss.

What was it like when you made your first million?

I had such a feeling of achievement. I got the money in the second year of Sun La Vie’s existence. I had hired out company vehicles to various firms taking tourists to different destinations around the country.

Being self-employed is very satisfying. Accomplishing my dream of owning a car was a very proud moment for me. I was able to look back at my journey and smile that I had made it that far.

How did you spend your first million?

I invested it in buying more vans and also got more resources to increase the company’s capacity.

What are the challenges you go through in your job?

Insecurity sparked by either election violence or terrorism really affects my business. Also, the travel advisories issued by some counties and tourist low seasons are major challenges. Bumpy roads, annoying clients and corrupt traffic cops also bite into the income I make.

What are your weekdays like?

I do not have a pre-organised work plan; it all depends on the orders of the day or when I get called in by my clients.

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