Before Conrille Ndahaya, a taxi-moto operator, got his current job he used to live from “hand-to-mouth” since he earned a living by doing menial work. With these kinds of jobs, he barely had enough money to meet his family’s basic needs and it had never crossed his mind that he needed to save for the future.
Later, he was hired as a taxi-moto rider and started earning a little more money each month. As time went on, Ndahaya mobilised 13 other riders and they formed Gisozi Co-operative for Vision Motorcyclists (GICOVIM).
Each of the members was then tasked to open a savings account. It was through this process that Ndahaya learnt about the importance of saving after Cycle Investment Co-operative (CIC) officials explained how it works and the benefits.
That normal routine by the microfinance officials was to be the turning point for the Gisozi Co-operative for Vision Motorcyclists chief and founder member.
Embracing savings culture
He says: “After we learnt about the benefits of saving, my colleagues and I resolved to start putting aside a specific amount of money as savings thrice a week. This made it possible for us to get loans since one needed at least 10 per cent of the required funding on their account,” Ndahaya explains.
When his savings hit the required amounts, Ndahaya was able to secure a Rwf1.2 million loan in 2013 and bought a motorcycle, which also helped him to kick-start his transport enterprise. The loan was repaid within one year using the money realised from his taxi-moto business, he adds.
He sold the old bike and got another loan, with which together with his earnings and savings, Ndahaya bought two new motorcycles. Previously, the rider used to earn Rwf20,000 when he was still working for another person.
“I am happy that all the money I earn is used to improve my family’s living standards,” he says, adding that he employed a youth to operate one of motorcycles while he rides the other bike.
Ndahaya makes it a point to deposit Rwf50,000 on his account at CIC every week. Each motorcycle brings in between Rwf10,000 and Rwf20,000 daily.
The taxi-moto rider operates mainly from Gisozi and other places in the city like Nyamirambo, Remera, Kicukiro, and Kimironko, among other places.
Ndahaya says the biggest challenge is rain, noting that during the rainy seasons it is difficult to get customers as many people prefer using cabs.
This, he says, affects his savings plan “because without customers, I can’t be able to raise that amount of money. In addition, bad road users, particularly motor vehicle drivers, harass taxi-moto operators which put their lives and those of passengers at risk.
Before the savings journey that marked his breakthrough, Ndahaya was staying in a rented house, but he was able to build a permanent and fenced home in Gisozi using his earnings.
He is able to pay school fees for his two children who are in secondary school and also meet their needs. The enterprising taxi-moto rider says he has never been involved in an accident.
Ndahaya says that when he had just embraced the savings culture he was not consistent, but now he is able to stick to his plan of depositing Rwf50,000 per week on his account.
The young entrepreneur plans to buy a car next year and expand into doing cab business. “This is part of the bigger expansion and business diversification strategy that will see me branch out into secretarial and stationary business, complete with photocopying machines, computers and books,” says Ndahaya.
He is also looking to enter the entertainment sector by buying a sound system for different functions, plus decoration services “for all kinds of functions like weddings, and official functions.”
With the growth of e-commerce and government’s push for a cashless economy, the rider plans to partner with his wife and start a point of sale (POS) unit to facilitate the local businesses and individuals seeking e-payment services, especially for government services like passports and driving permits.
Ndahaya urges young people to start saving, saying one does not need to have a lot of money.
“Even with very little money you can save, which cushions you in case of emergencies and bills for health, home and school,” he says.
Young people should work hard and stop shunning small jobs “because your degree certificate cannot in itself translate into money if you are not ready to work” believing that some jobs are for the uneducated people.
“If you get a small job, go for it because it will open doors for you and help you land your dream job. Whatever job you have, try to set aside part of the money and embark on savings journey that will surely change your overtime,” Ndahaya adds.