The search for alternative revenue streams by Kenyans whose income was affected by the Coronavirus pandemic has seen many car owners join the car hire industry to support themselves.
Kenyans across the country have been searching online for reliable car hire platforms to make an extra coin.
This lack of a reliable marketplace drove the founders of Zuru Car Rental to build a mobile application on which car owners can safely load cars for hire.
“I was just surfing through the app store in search of an app on which I can hire my car and I found Zuru,” said Robert Mwita, a car owner in Mombasa.
The Zuru car rental app on play store was formed last year to connect car owners and customers who needed to travel upcountry but could not find a means of transport due to pressure on public transport.
The application allows car owners to meet customers who have uploaded their KYC credentials such as IDs, passport images, driving license. The company is also working to include facial recognition logins.
The demand has grown fast in the last three months with more than 70 bookings weekly indicating rising uptake. The app has cars in Nairobi, Mombasa, Eldoret, Nakuru, and Kisii.
Data from Euromonitor, a London-based research firm shows that Kenya’s car hire market is growing at a rate of 8 percent per annum except during last year when Covid-19 travel restrictions forced the industry to its knees.
“Our job is to provide that infrastructure so that a sick person in rural or urban Kenya can get a vehicle anytime and anywhere to go to the hospital or for holiday using a mobile phone,” said Otini.
The number of licensed drivers is about three times the cars present in the country. Due to traffic problems, many people leave their cars at home and some do not like to buy a car for traveling daily but they would like to drive when they go for outings on weekends.
“Scarcity of parking and government restrictions on traffic congestion will encourage the growth of car rental industry,” says a report on Car Hire Industry by Globaldata.com
The car hire industry is dominated by a number of large international car hire firms such as Avis, Hertz and a number of local players
The industry has also been held back by the lack of an affordable insurance product that would cater for pay per use clients. Kenya’s car insurance only caters for comprehensive, PSV, and third party leaving no policy framework for car hire. However, Zuru is in negotiations with two insurance players to launch pay-per-use insurance which they currently issue abroad.
The car hire market is worth an estimated Sh5 billion in Kenya and Sh500 billion. The market is expected to expand due to the disruption of the sector by technology helping car owners to rent their cars without having to open an office or lend it to car hire firms.