My Hustle – I Started ‘Same Day Delivery’ Company While Selling Mitumba

October 17, 2022

Truphena Itemere, 28, is the founder of boda boda courier service, Same Day Delivery (SDD). She started the firm while working the mitumba business which performed below her expectations.

She shared her journey with Enterprise.

What inspired you to start courier services in Nairobi? 

After hustling for some time doing menial jobs with meagre earnings, life become unbearable and I had to look for something else for sustenance. I started a mitumba business (selling second-hand clothes) in 2016.

Being a new entrant in the business, I started marketing my products on social media. I got clients that were based in various parts of Nairobi City County and would send a motorcycle to deliver the parcel at the customer’s extra cost but that became untenable since it was an expensive affair.

The majority of my customers were average earners and therefore could not afford the extra costs of delivering the parcel. I had to think of affordable rates for my clients.

This led to the birth of Same Day Delivery (SDD) Company. I also bought two motorcycles and employed riders to be doing the deliveries.

What kind of deliveries do you do and for how long?

We do same day, next day and express deliveries. Same day (parcel arrived at a client’s home between 9 am to 5 pm).

Next-day delivery is where all parcels dropped in the evening are delivered the following day.

This is quite cheap since it’s less than Sh100 as compared to other deliveries. Express deliveries are urgent ones that are immediately dispatched.

How much do you charge to do deliveries in Nairobi and other parts of the country?

We have a rate card for different places within Nairobi County. For delivery of parcels within the Nairobi central business district (CBD), we have a flat rate of Sh350 and outside that radius, we charge an extra Sh60 per kilometre. Transporting parcels in regions outside Nairobi, we have partnered with leading courier providers in the country who do the deliveries and share the profits. But starting next year, we shall be doing deliveries countrywide by ourselves.

What happens when you delay delivering parcels on the same day? 

Whenever we have delays, we do communicate with our clients and inform them of the reason why we have delayed in delivery of their parcels.

We then tell them the time and when they are likely to receive their parcel. When this happens, we subsidise the prices to retain them.

What does it take to venture into this kind of business?

The most important thing is to first understand your target market. That is, who is your customer and the area of service. Where are you going to operate your services from and whether there’s a need or a gap in the market for the service you want to offer and at what cost will you be offering your service?

Operating licenses are also important for branded bikes. You must get honest riders as well if you have to succeed in this kind of business.

Which month is your business booming and what are the trends?

Back to school and festive seasons like Easter, Christmas and Ramadhan celebrations, when we have public holidays and when we give offers to our clients commonly known as ‘Black Fridays’ is when the business is booming.

Are there customers who call to deliver weird products or parcels?

We have had instances where clients call asking whether we can deliver items such as sex toys to different destinations. Some would even want us to deliver cash but we have a list of items we don’t deliver, so we always stick to what we can deliver. Some of the items we don’t deliver include cash, explosives, ammunition, flammable items, fragile items, mobile phones, pets, ashes, pornographic materials, tobacco products, drugs and electronics.

Who are your competitors and how did you counter their influence in the market? 

We do not have competitors, there are just many players in the market and I am one of them. We offer intimate and customised services to our customers which are so different from what our competitors offer. We also reach out to new clients, where are our competitors in the market haven’t reached by doing reinforced branding with messages that directly address their needs. For the already existing ones, we value their feedback and make improvements to the way we serve them. We also offer partnerships with like-minded organisations to keep our business afloat.

Any worse experience that you have encountered as a young entrepreneur?

I have had many setbacks and at one point, I contemplated closing down the business. When I started, I used to trust my clients so much. I began to experience delayed payments and later, it graduated to evasive payment and finally non-payment.

I started this business because I wanted to make money, not losses. I even had a rider who mistreated my clients and had a bad attitude at work.

I went for a risk management class. I learned to look at every step, venture and investment from a risk perspective. I later worked on the 3Ps (Prepare, Participate and Practice). I changed the policy, process and people (delivery team). I’m now more efficient and effective in my delivery services.

How many employees do you have? 

I currently have 12 employees out of which 10 are riders, a marketer and a customer service person.

With the high cost of living, that has weakened Kenyans’ purchasing power, how have you managed to keep your business afloat?

I had to make adjustments to my charges as per the ratio of increased cost. But before I do that, I communicated to my clients through an official notice. We slightly increased the delivery fee after having a dialogue with my clients. But, the bigger secret is the great service experience. People pay for a good service experience.

It’s just like going to a hotel, buying a cup of coffee at Sh300, and then giving a tip of Sh100 to the waiter because of good service. When clients are served well, they don’t feel the cost.

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