The local logistics market has received a key and new player that looks forward to addressing several issues that fleet managers and SMEs encounter. Named Bwala Africa Group, the Nairobi-based logistics marketplace offers a platform for its users to hire cars, trucks as well as delivery vans. At the same time, Bwala positions itself as a business that offers service and maintenance by linking customers to reputable mechanics.
Currently, Bwala has a fleet of 50 vehicles, but hopes to have 1000 pickups, minibuses, trucks and similar vehicles by the end of 2018. These fleets are managed by a single database that primarily focuses on eliminating daily hurdles for fleets.
Bwala separates itself from existing platforms by offering business opportunities to truck owners, who, in most cases, carry no cargo on return trips. The platform also looks forward to expanding mechanics’ customer base, with emphasis on honesty and use of genuine spare parts.
“I’m a car enthusiast and at times my family is trying to get a good mechanic but we find them engaged. There are many other good mechanics too but the problem is accessing them. We will list those we vet and let the users rate them,” said Kennedy Nyabwala, the firm’s founder and CEO.
Bwala’s offerings involve input multiple players from other fields, including transport and the insurance sector. Ideally, this makes sense because logistics, especially where transport is involved, is a sensitive field that needs security of property. In particular, Bwala covers vehicle leasing, hauling of light and heavy cargo and fleet management – activities that call for compliance with NTSA (whose ICT Head Dr. Fernando Wangila was present in the launch) regulations and insurance covers and claims. Once these base requirements and prerequisites are met, Bwala hopes to have peace of mind since its product portfolio would be in line with industry standards.
It should be noted that Bwala will work with verified garages to provide class-leading vehicle repairs, service and maintenance.
Bwala has tested its product for the better part of 2017. Its small fleet of vehicles will limit its launch in Nairobi, but further expansion to additional counties is imminent as the company scales. A wider rollout of its logistic services is expected to explore continental Africa, with an ambitious expansion to Asia as well.
“We wanted to prove our concept and get customer validation before we go public,” he said. “Our key focus will be in the African market, though we are also looking at the Asian market starting with India and Philippines because they have a lot of similarities with Africa; such as the growing middle class and the increasing rate of car ownership. These are the markets we want to play in,” adds Nyabwala.
The use of Bwala logistic services is straightforward. People who own vehicles, be it a car, van, truck or pickup need to take a picture of their machine, which is then used in the sign-up process at the platform, bwala.co.ke.
In conjunction with NTSA’s tools and portals such as TIMS, Bwala verifies the details of the vehicle before it is made available on the site for hiring.
Users can then browse the site, select their target, and pay. Bwala holds the funds in a payment system managed by a third party as the customer verifies if the vehicle meets their demands.
Users can pay between 20 to 30 percent commission to hire or lease cars, connect to verified mechanics or buy genuine spare parts. Afterward, it is Bwala’s role to take the vehicle for servicing, insurance renewal, lease contract renewal, among other services. Notably, these processes are automatic.
Bwala will leverage its offerings to do business with key local businesses such as Chandaria Group that operates a fleet of over 150 vehicles. Future prospects include operating over 1 million cars on Kenyan roads on a daily basis.