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MONEY TALKS: How to run a side-hustle taxi business (Part III)

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By FLORENCE BETT-KINYATTI
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The two parts leading up to this story suggest I made all the right decisions, and that the cash from the business rocked my account on the 30th of every month.

Well, for the most part it did. The good runs outnumbered the bad runs – no doubt – but there some bad runs.

The biggest one was an emotional decision made in a season of desperation in 2014.

I ran the taxi business for three years – from September 2012 to September 2015. I had four taxis on the road at its prime but I usually prefer to say there were three. I say this because this fourth car purchase was such a terrible decision that it was more of a step back than a progressive move in the right direction.

CONSTANTLY RAN OUT OF CASH

2014 was generally a difficult year for me because I was constantly running out of cash: my savings from my corporate job had run out, I wasn’t making that much from my writing, the taxis were bringing in enough to sustain themselves with a little extra for me, but there was this headache of a StanChart bank loan hot on my broke behind.

I’d applied for the loan with my payslip as collateral, the bank didn’t have any asset from me to repossess. This was just about the best thing about that loan. I never had to avoid calls from a heartless auctioneer with a passive-aggressive voice, only from the bank asking when I’d transfer funds to my account to settle the monthly loan repayment. The bank was nice; I could manage the bank.

To get the StanChart loan off my back, I applied for a Sacco loan of Sh1.5 million. I invest with two Saccos. This Sacco I borrowed from is my main Sacco, I’ve been saving with them since I starting working. They lend four times your contributions.

I’d stopped contributing to the Sacco the year before – in April 2013 – when I’d left my corporate job. So what I did was, I pulled in all savings from the taxi business and dumped it into the Sacco to boost my contributions, qualifying me for a big enough loan to clear the StanChart loan and have a little extra to invest in a Toyota Belta.

With StanChart off my back, I had some breathing room to think of what next for my business.

I needed another taxi so I could make more cash per month. This desperate I-must-have-it-now thinking is where things went south.

I didn’t have the muscle to borrow from the bank, from another Sacco or from any fool willing to float me the cash. I entered a deal with one of the fleet managers. The deal was that he’d apply for a loan from his bank to purchase two cars for his fleet– a Toyota Wish and Toyota Voxy. The Wish would be mine.

The loan would be from Equity Bank.

I’d finance for my portion of the loan for the Wish.

I’d pay upfront 30 per cent of the purchase cost, the bank would loan us the balance. This balance would go straight to the car dealer in Nairobi we were buying the cars.

My Wish cost Sh1.15 million. I paid 30 per cent upfront, that’s Sh345,000. Equity loaned us the balance of Sh806,000.

This loan would run for three years, 36 months as the bank likes to say. Month one was September 2014. At 11 per cent  interest rate, I was repaying  Sh28,000 per month.

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Aside from the cost of the car itself, there were also other costs we had to meet to get the car ready for the road. Costs for items such as alarms, trackers, valuation, KRA and county licenses, extra third party and annual comprehensive PSV insurance.

Because we were being financed by the bank, they’d hold on to the logbooks and we’d use an insurer on their panel. Jubilee Insurance. A tier-one insurer. One of the more costly motor vehicle insurers in the land. I couldn’t afford Jubilee insurance, not even when I had the choice to. Now we didn’t have a choice. It was either Jubilee or Jubilee. Annual insurance came to Sh90,000. We were getting insurance premium financing.

There was an ugly hidden cost for loan processing. It knocked us back a cool Sh35,000.

All these ‘Other costs’ totalled to Sh185,000.

These costs weren’t part of the loan, I had to settle them with cash from elsewhere.

The fleet manager would pay me on the 30th of every month, as he had with my other taxi he was managing. Only now, instead of the usual monthly rate of Sh30,000, he’d top it up to Sh40,000.

I already told you I didn’t have too much liquid cash lying around, so I went into the deal 60/40 with my sister. We’d split the returns along the same lines.

Our net returns – after paying interest on the loan and insurance premium financing – would be Sh9,600.

We didn’t see this cash.

For some reason, there was a deduction month after month that ate into our returns.

If it wasn’t minor repairs, it was major repairs like body work, replacing tyres and Lord-knows what else. The fleet manager was a tad vague.

And when the cash did hit my account and I split it down 60/40 with my sister, it was so little that the long waits and phone calls to follow up weren’t worth the trouble.

Equity and the fleet manager were having a feast, we were scrambling for the crumbs falling off the table.

I just over a year, my sister wanted out. I couldn’t say no because I understood and empathised with her frustration. I’m naturally a patient person but this taxi had me to the end of my rope.

I settled with her – I gave her what she’d invested plus a little extra to say asante.

I also wanted out a few months later.

The fleet manager advised me to be patient and give the car some more time. He said, “We’re more than halfway through the loan repayment, why don’t you hang on until we clear it then you can sell the car and keep the money? It’ll be good money.”

I could. But I didn’t want to. I didn’t have the luxury of time. I needed cash now.

I sold the car to him for Sh200,000. I don’t remember how we arrived at this computation. Probably some rudimentary math done on a scrap of paper while we stood around the banking hall of Equity Community Branch, that June of 2016. He gave me a cheque.

I redirected the cash to another investment and had a stiff drink.

I heard from a far the gavel strike.



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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

Get breaking news on your Mobile as-it-happens. SMS ‘NEWS’ to 20153

With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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