What you need to know:
- Tuk tuk business is perceived as a male-dominated industry and not a comfort zone for women.
- A resident of Mombasa, Ms Shenga, 40, decided to venture into the business in 2005.
- Sometimes, she gets customers who have had a bad day and end up disrespecting her.
- Her children describe Ms Shenga as a hardworking and strong woman.
Ordinarily, the tuk tuk business is perceived as a male-dominated industry and not a comfort zone for women.
But for Farida Shenga, she has been a tuk tuk driver for 15 years.
A resident of Mombasa, Ms Shenga, 40, decided to venture into the business in 2005 when her husband, Mohammed Juma was laid off.
“He used to work at the port and when he lost his job, we had no money and we ended up homeless. We had to seek refuge at a relative’s home for some time,” she says.
The mother of three says shortly afterwards, he husband passed on and the full responsibility of raising her family was on her shoulders.
“This business has benefited my family. I use it to educate my children, provide food, clothes and even paying rent,” says Ms Shenga.
’Mama Farida’ as she is commonly known in Kibokoni area, says at first, it was difficult to adopt but over time, she learnt the ropes of doing business.
“I used to fear driving the tuk tuk because I did not know how people would react towards me. Many people in Mombasa are used to seeing men driving the three wheelers. I put my courage on and was determined to irk a living from the business,” she says.
Ms Shenga says the business is faced with many challenges but she has learnt how to plan her days so that she can attend to the needs of her family.
“I always wake up at 5am to prepare the children for school and after that, I start my daily routine and finish at 7 in the evening,” says Ms Shenga.
Just like any other business, being a tuk tuk driver also has its challenges.
“Sometimes, you get a customer who has had a bad day and ends up disrespecting you. But because you need the money, you tolerate them. But this also depends because there are some I correct and they admit their mistakes,” she says.
She says sometimes, clients con her and in one instance, she was given fake money. Those are some of the challenges she encounters when dealing with customers. In addition, she faces stiff competition from the male co-workers, who are more aggressive with the way they deal with customers.
“Sometimes it gets hard to get customers which forces me to work for extra hours to bring a meal at the table,” the entrepreneur says.
Her children describe Ms Shenga as a hardworking and strong woman.
“She motivates me a lot. My mother has already taught me how to drive the tuktuk and at times, I help her,” says Aboud Juma, her son.
Ms Shenga encourages women to come out of their comfort zone and work harder, even if it’s not in the business.
“Work hard because the money you make yourself gives you more independence than the one you borrow or receive from someone else,” she says.