There is an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 motorbikes in Kigali. Rwandan entrepreneur Junior Kanamugire a few months ago launched Pikiwash, an eco-friendly and time saving company that is bringing a state of the art cleaning service to motorcycles. He had a chat with Sunday Magazine’s Sharon Kantengwa on the future of Pikiwash.
What motivated the idea of Pikiwash?
We did a survey at the beginning of the project, this showed us that it takes about 2-3 hours to wash a motorcycle, yet in that same time frame a motorcyclist could get their bike washed and be back on the road to make more money. I came across technology that is developed in Asia which is the machine that automatically washes the motorcycle and is ecofriendly. Two years later I came up with the concept and we have our first machine at the Engen garage in Kicukiro. The whole washing process takes about 20-30 minutes depending on how dirty the motorcycle is.
I’m mostly passionate about finding solutions to problems in the market. I believe that if Pikiwash was well established, it would be a nice channel for anybody to reach the market. It’s more about finding solutions given the right environment and technology.
Can you say the motorcyclists were quick to adapt to this new system?
They were quick to adapt but a bit skeptical because the only way they knew how to clean their motorcycles was the ‘kinambas’ (washing bays). It was a bit difficult to convince them so we started giving promotional vouchers just to show them it’s a real thing. We have been working on that to try to sensitize them and the biggest selling point is time. We also realized that after washing the motorcycle we have to do a little bit of finishing which was accomplished with the help of a team of guys who used to work in Kinambas.
The reason we were successful is that our machine recycles water which means that we can use a tank for half a day and only replace water twice a day depending on how many clients we have. It’s the biggest feature that this machine has because we use about 5% of the water the kinamba’s use. We also have a high pressure machine which uses mostly vapor which is very good because it does not corrugate the motorcycle paint.
Your payment system, the Tap and Pay only favors MTN subscribers. Have you thought about other telecom subscribers?
When we did our interviews, 55% of the people showed that they were MTN subscribers, and that is more than a half of our target market. At the end of the day, the idea is to have everybody there represented but to start off with MTN Tap and Pay was the best solution.
You’re pushing for a cash less system but considering your target market, how sustainable can it be?
Having looked at the market and the businesses today, I do believe that cashless is the way to go. You will be surprised that a lot of the motor guys now have ATM cards and whether you want it or not, the cashless system is there although people still have this misconception that motorcyclists are lagging behind. The tap and go solution is simple and as far as Pikiwash is concerned, there is no cash handled. The beauty of this is that as the owner, I have a platform where I track every transaction that happens. There is no doubt about the sustainability, and so if other telecom companies come on board, I’m ready to work with them.
What are your other plans for Pikiwash?
The idea for PikiWash is to provide a one stop care center for motorcycle operators because for them, it’s not only about services but it is also their way of living, and we want to make that easier for them. We are looking at providing more major services like changing oil and hopefully next month, we will see these solutions being offered.
We are also partnering with Engen to provide lubricant services. I want to see Pikiwash become a one-stop center where motorcycles can get the full package of services and duplicate it not only in the whole country but regionally. At the moment, we are looking toward expansion and buying more machines for Nyabugogo, Nyamirambo and Remera.Follow https://twitter.com/SharonKMugabo