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From civil servant to owner of thriving taxi business

FINANCIAL STANDARD
By Lillian Kiarie | Dec 17th 2013 | 3 min read
By Lillian Kiarie | December 17th 2013
FINANCIAL STANDARD

By Lillian Kiarie

Kenya: Justus Muriithi Kirigua carved a niche for himself by providing orderly and systematic cab services at a time when the transport sector was giving corporate Kenya a headache.

Five years later, Pewin Cabs has over 140 employees, an online application service and its turnover is in the millions of shillings.

At what age did you make your first million?

In my early 30s — within the first year of starting Pewin Cabs.

How did you get started?

Nine years ago, I got a job at UPS, a transport logistics company in the US. I started working there just after completing an MBA in Computer Studies in the same country.

I was with UPS for about eight years, and after acquiring the proper skills and knowledge on trends in the sector, I came back to Kenya and took up a job with a corporation under the Ministry of Energy.

While there, I was disturbed by the way the lack of development in mass transport and was affecting the performance of corporates.

I did a feasibility study to identify the gaps that needed to be filled in the sector, and a year later, I took a leap of faith.

With the help of my family, I registered and began setting up Pewin Cabs. We started off with eight cabs and employed 12 people.

When did you get your big break?

About seven months down the line, we started getting a grip on and understanding of the market. We went to major banks, NGOs and various corporates to pitch our cab services. Our selling point was a guarantee that our drivers would arrive on time, our cabs would be clean and our services would be reliable. They signed up, and we delivered.

How did it feel to make your first million?

It was an amazing feeling. Knowing that this business had started from scratch and blossomed and that the future was very bright made me sure that I could make it work.

How did you spend the money?

I ploughed it back to expand the business, bought more cars and hired more employees.

What are the key tips that have helped you survive in business?

I take a conservative approach towards the business, save as much as possible and retain profits to expand.

Also, I ensure we demonstrate to corporates that we can manage to run a business and will not close shop.

I am constantly carrying out research to learn about the best practices so that we benchmark ourselves against world-class companies.

Finally, we are technology-driven and use a systematic approach to run the business.

What would you advice young entrepreneurs?

Reinvest in your business and monitor all your revenues and costs.

Also, before you start any venture, have a good understanding of it, ensure you set aside enough money to take care of recurrent expenditure, and have proper cashflow planning. And remember to stay focused on your core business.

Future plans?

We intend to launch a pre-booking service in the near future so as to operate on orders.

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