In Kenya, ride-hailing apps have experienced significant growth, with more Kenyans opting for carpooling or hiring taxi services to reach their destinations.
Judy Wanjiru is a lady Uber driver in Nairobi.
Judy started her taxi-driving business in Mombasa while working as a car salesperson. Alongside her car sales job, Judy would occasionally do taxi services to earn an extra income.
Later, she moved from the coastal city to Nairobi without a car. She hustled around trying to make ends meet and gain a strong financial footing.
During this time, she met a man who suggested that she consider joining the Uber business. That’s how Judy became an Uber lady driver in Nairobi after selling her Nissan Serena to buy a Nissan Note.
“I cannot regret doing this job, because it is feeding me, paying my rent and educating my children. The job is good,” she remarked in an interview.
Judy stated that she makes a tidy sum from driving around in her Nissan Note. In a day, she makes no less than Sh. 7,000. On her worst days, she gets around Sh. 5,000.
She noted that she makes these amounts considering that she has her own loyal clients who give her business every so often.
Judy maintained that Uber is her full-time job, not just a side hustle as some might think. Her workday begins at 4 am and she closes shop at 7 pm.
The Uber lady noted that she enjoys taking long journeys. Besides the payment from the app for the trip, she often receives additional money from satisfied clients. Moreover, these passengers are more likely to recommend her to others, thus expanding her customer base.
“For example, yesterday I woke up at 4 am. At 6, there was a client who wanted me to take him to Naivasha. The price that was showing on the app was only fuel to take me there so it wouldn’t be enough for a return drive. I requested that we renegotiate the amount,” she explained.
“I ended up getting Sh. 15,000 and this car doesn’t consume much, only Sh. 4,000. I saved Sh. 11,000 from that 4–5-hour journey…if I check on the app, I can’t fail to earn Sh. 200,000 per month.”
Asked about the challenges faced by lady Uber drivers in Nairobi, Judy pointed out that she sometimes encounters issues with drunk passengers or people unwilling to pay simply because she is female.
On occasions, passengers have vomited or urinated inside her car. The most frustrating part for Judy is when she is driving, more often than not, males who pretend to be drivers and offer unsolicited advice on how she should operate the vehicle.
“Especially us women carrying men, it becomes a real challenge because there’s no way a man can believe that a lady can do better than him. So when you drive him, he is always looking out for your mistakes,” Judy reprimanded.
In such ordeals, Judy pulls over to the curb and asks the client to exit her car. However, this action comes with consequences as the client is likely to give her a poor rating and write a negative review on her Uber driver profile.
Judy encouraged women to be fearless and to consider joining the Uber business. She advised that dedication, discipline, courage, cleanliness and passion are important traits for survival on the job.
Drawing from her experience as a former car salesperson, Judy suggested that when purchasing a vehicle, especially for the Uber business, it’s preferable to get a vehicle on Hire Purchase terms rather than choosing zero-deposit lenders.