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Biker’s business is a roaring success

Ernesto Kalina loved riding motorcycles when he was a young boy and decades later, he is earning a living out of his passion.

After completing his studies at Makerere University, Kalina left his hometown Kampala for Nairobi in search of greener pastures.

In 2008, the social studies graduate got a job with Amref as a driver-cum- food monitor in Makueni. Later, he worked with an NGO before his contract ended abruptly.

The hardships he went through while looking for another job inspired him to settle for his passion.

“Because of my love for motorbikes, I started running errands for people for a fee,” said Kalina.

With the top-of-the range bikes he had bought while still working, he ventured into self-employment.

Kalina owns a Honda Rebel 250cc, a secondhand bike that he bought for Sh200,000, a Honda Steel 750cc and a Honda Shadow 750cc which he bought for Sh500,000 each. He operates from the NPC Valley Road bus stop.

For one and half years from Monday to Friday, he has transported people and parcels throughout town from 7am until 7:30pm, and charges Sh150 from NPC to GPO and Sh350 to the CBD. In places like Westlands he charges Sh400.

On a slow day he makes Sh3,000 while on good days he can make up to Sh5,000.

“I am in an informal sector but this does not mean there is no money to be made here. I wouldn’t trade what I do for an office job because it pays well,” he said.

Because he is probably the only boda boda operator in Nairobi using high-end motorcycles, he receives a lot of attention from customers who keep his phone buzzing.

So why use such a high-end bike? “This bike sets me apart from the rest of the operators. It is comfortable and reliable, thereby reducing chances of breaking down,” he said.

During weekends if he is not having fun, he engages himself in road shows and weddings.

So far he has been hired by Safaricom, Nokia and Samsung during their road shows.

“Depending on the distance, I charge Sh15,000  for several hours; that is when I use my other bikes,” said the 28-year-old.

He also sells motorcycles that he imports from Uganda.

He advises youth who want to start a business to do what they love and assures them that the money will follow.