Enterprise

Financial engineer carts his car wash to doorsteps

SolomonMiruka

Somoni Miruka. PHOTO | POOL

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Summary

  • When Covid-19 struck, a number of carwashes closed shop due to reduced customer traffic as people endeavoured to work from home.
  • The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) where he was a research and policy analyst, just like other State agencies encouraged remote working.
  • Being out of work meant that he had a lot of free time on his hands which he used to think of business ideas he could actualise.

When Somoni Miruka enrolled for Financial Engineering degree, he had no idea that one day he would be dabbling in washing cars, a job that is not associated with those who have attained his level of education. Yet washing cars is now what is putting food on his table as well as meeting other bills.

His career looked like it would take the direction dictated by his studies when upon graduation from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), where he did Financial Engineering, he landed an internship position at the State energy sector regulator. The internship, however, prematurely ended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

After staying home for five months scratching his head on what business to venture into, he settled on the mobile carwash business serving Nairobi’s Donholm estate.

“It never occurred to me that I would run a car washing business but when the pandemic was at its peak, people moved from using matatus to personal cars so we decided to deliver car washing services at their doorsteps,” said the 23-year-old graduate.

When Covid-19 struck, a number of carwashes closed shop due to reduced customer traffic as people endeavoured to work from home.

The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) where he was a research and policy analyst, just like other State agencies encouraged remote working.

Being out of work meant that he had a lot of free time on his hands which he used to think of business ideas he could actualise.

He soon spotted a niche in the car-washing space as people limited movement mostly by avoiding public transport and focused on being productive indoors.

This is when he unveiled the Board Mobile Carwash that comes in form of a mobile cart carrying 150 litres of water that is attached to a high pressure car-washing machine.

Prior to setting on the business venture, he had visited a number of carwashes in the estate to understand what it entails to run a similar business.

“We saw the areas where customers were calling for more attention and decided we would give a special focus on those areas,” he says.

Armed with Sh70,000 savings, Mr Miruka bought a cart, tools of trade and hired two people. He marketed his trade through door-to-door visits, fliers and distribution of business cards.

Customers started calling almost immediately and within no time, there were repeat clients, a pointer that they enjoyed the service.

On average, his team washes 10 cars daily charging a minimum of Sh250 with the amount increasing depending on the size of a vehicle. For example, a customer with a sport utility vehicle (SUV) will part with Sh300 while someone with a six-wheeler will pay a minimum of Sh600.

The business makes a profit of Sh37,000 a month.

Aside from the normal car-washing, he plans to introduce new products such as car body shampoo and car wax, which entails body, fabric and tyre wax.

“We also want to introduce a moisture absorbing tablet which also acts as car perfume to boost customer experience,” says Mr Miruka.

Aside from growing its product offerings, the business is looking to expand to Ruaka, Juja, Imara Daima and Syokimau estates in Nairobi on availability of resources.

While he is open to being employed in his area of study, Mr Miruka says he will keep his car-washing business as a side hustle due to its promising potential.

The mobile car-wash business is not the first business venture he has tried his hands on. Back in his high school days, he started a savings platform for students.

“It didn’t take off because we did not get permit from government to collect money from minors,” he recalls.

He later started Tour Plus Kenya, an events company that collapsed due to lack of sufficient capital to sustain its operations. Then when he joined campus, he tried his hands in the clothes and jewelry business to get cash for upkeep.