Have you seen the reality of B.Com graduates who turned to boda boda jobs for survival?
This is not even the worst of unemployment in Kenya. In Vihiga Julius Odhiambo, is a Master’s graduate but he ekes a living from boda boda business.
He plies his trade in Luanda town and has ambitions to pursue a doctorate degree against all odds
For now, though, 36-year-old Odhiambo is looking at securing a job as a lecturer.
The mother of six has not had an easy childhood. He was orphaned at 15 having lost his mother in 1994 when he was just nine.
He then lost his father to hypertension in 2000. They lived in Gem, Siaya County under the care of his stepmother and life wasn’t easy at all.
“My stepmum wasn’t that stable to take care of the family. So most of the time, I was forced to venture into some small businesses,” he tells the Star.
Despite scoring 417 in the 2000 KCPE examination, Odhiambo joined a village secondary school – Sirembe Secondary School – because no one would pay for his school fees at Ulumbi Secondary School.
When in Form Three, he temporarily dropped out of school to feed his family. He engaged in small business until the third term when the school’s principal asked him to return to school and gave him a bursary.
He scored a C+ after sitting for his KCSE in 2004. This was the beginning of yet another hard life doing menial jobs. He tried his hand in selling CDs and DVDs and snacks at Maseno University gate but it was no smooth sail.
“The big problem we were encountering there was the long holidays,” he says.
“We had to have another plan as life had to go on. We had to eat, have clothes and so on,” Odhiambo said.
Odhiambo moved to Luanda in Vihiga where he started a popcorn business but the money he made was barely enough. He decided to buy a motorbike to supplement his income.
“In mid-June that year, I went for a loan at Faulu Bank to buy a TVS bike and I was among the first few people who owned bikes in Luanda town for boda boda,” he stated. He married a year later – in 2006.
The business was not bad since he could make at least Ksh2,500 daily and was able to service the loan for his motorbike.
However, boda boda business boom in 2007 suppressed his profits. And in 2008, he had an encounter with armed thugs who inflicted injuries on him that he took eight months to recover.
This is when he reconsidered the business and decided to join Maseno University for a degree in supply chain management in 2011.
He raised Ksh35,000 to join the varsity through his boda boda business and support from fellow boda boda operators.
Odhiambo got more funding from the Higher Education Loans Board gave him some money, and Faulu Bank.
“I graduated in 2015 and my dream of working in a procurement office was at my heart by then,” Odhiambo says adding “In Kenya, to get a job with a first degree is not easy.”
He registered with the Kenya Institute of Supply Management, a professional body regulating the field, but still could not get a job.
In his field, a Master’s is deeply valued so he enrolled back to school and graduated in 2017.
He still owed Maseno University huge fee arrears. They struck a deal where he would teach diploma and certificate classes in the Kisumu campus to settle the arrears the Covid-19 pandemic ruined it all.
He managed to raise money and settle all his arrears and has his eyes fixed on becoming a full-time lecturer.
In the meantime, he remains the loved boda boda operator in Vihiga