What you need to know:
- Growing up, Emma Wanjiru was afraid of riding bicycles.
- Her husband bought a motorbike but after months of it lying idle because of his tight working schedule, she thought of the need to put it into use.
- When she started out, most of my customers didn’t have confidence.
- With the onset of Covid-19 in the country six months ago, income has been on the decline, she has to put in extra hours.
Growing up, Emma Wanjiru was afraid of riding bicycles. But many years later, the 34-year-old who hails from Nyandarua, surmounted this fear and now not only rides a motorbike, but also earns from it.
The urge to go the extra mile to make ends meet forced the mother of two to venture into the male-dominated motorbike sector. Ms Wanjiru has been in this business for the last five years.
“Life was tough growing up. I was brought up by a single parent after my mother passed away while I was still young,” says Ms Wanjiru, a Class Eight drop out.
She first thought of delving into the boda boda business after her husband, who works in Nyeri, bought a motorbike. But after months of the motorbike lying idle because of his tight working schedule, she thought of the need to put it into use.
“When I floated the idea to him that I wanted to be a boda boda rider, he could not believe that I can handle a man’s job. Eventually, he gave in and supported me,” Ms Wanjiru narrates.
However, she had to take a course in boda boda riding and get the requisite training and documents required for the business. And with time, she has been able to gain the trust of her clients.
“When I first started out, most of my customers didn’t have confidence but now I frequently get calls from them,” she says.
So how easy or difficult is it to balance her daily job and family?
“It has been quite overwhelming,” she admits, “but my two children, aged 10 and seven years, keep me going. And different from the men, and considering the risks involved if she operates until late in the evenings, I have to be home early.”
Just like any other business, she has had her fair share of challenges. One of them is dealing with irritating male clients.
“Sometimes I get clients who are drunk, and who get on your nerves,” she says.
Nevertheless, overcoming them is what has kept her going.
With the onset of Covid-19 in the country six months ago, income has been on the decline meaning she has to put in extra hours.
Resilience and hardwork
“Before the Covid-19 pandemic, I would make Sh800 but now I only manage Sh500 or even less,” she says adding that with her little earnings she can assist in taking care of her family.
Ms Wanjiru plans to mentor young girls and women who want to venture in the boda boda business. She adds that hers has been a journey of resilience and hard work. Her mantra, she says, is ‘what a man can do, a woman can do even better’.
Her take to fellow women: “Don’t be choosy while looking for employment especially during these harsh economic times.”
She urges girls not to be intimidated and embrace jobs considered to be a male dominated, further appreciating her hustle because it gives her freedom and guarantees her job security.