The public transport industry in Kenya has largely been characterised by chaos prompting the government to introduce matatu Saccos to bring sanity to the sector. In Nairobi, the industry is highly competitive given the high number of matatu saccos. Plying the CBD – Umoja route is the famous Umoinner Sacco which has stamped its feet in the industry.
In this article, WoK goes down memory lane to bring you the story of the three touts who founded Umoinner Sacco.
Umoinner Sacco journey
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Umoinner Sacco was established by Benjamin Kamau, Christopher Muia and Denis Magwambo. The three friends were slum dwelling matatu touts who earned an average Ksh 400 per day. The three friends came together and would save Ksh 200 per day and after about 10 years of saving diligently, they were able to acquire their first vehicle in 2006, a 14 seater matatu at a cost of Ksh 600,000. They started operating the matatu amidst challenges and opposition from their competitors who wanted to throw them out of the market.
Three years into the business came another major setback that almost shut down their dreams. In 2009, the Ministry of Transport issued a new directive that required all matatu vehicles to be under a Sacco. The Sacco was supposed to have at least 30 matatus in order to gain approval. Umoinner didn’t meet the threshold at the time and had to wait for three more years before meeting the requirements, gaining approval and the rest as they say is history.
The Success and Leadership team
The company is currently under the leadership of the three founding members; Christopher Muia who serves as the Chairman, Benjamin Kamau who is the Vice Chairman and Denis Magwambo who is the CEO. James Mwangi, the trending businessman known for matching expensive suits and shoes serves as the Manager and Patron of the Sacco.
Today Umoinner is a dominant player having grown from three founding members to over 81 new members. In 2015, kuzabiashara reported that the company operates a fleet of over 100 matatus that mainly operate in Umoja, Kayole, Buruburu and other parts of Eastlands, Nairobi. The online news outlet put the value of Sacco at Ksh500 million as of 2015. The Sacco also owns a football team in Umoja named ‘Umoinner FC’ with the aim of nurturing local talent in the slums of Eastlands. The team participates in the Federation of Kenyan Football (FKF) County league where it is doing exceptionally well.
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In 2013, Umoinner found itself between a rock and hard place after reported emerged that the Sacco was involved in illuminati. This is after one of their matatus was involved in an accident with a train leaving 12 people dead and others injured.
Umoinner Sacco public relations officer Kevin Jevick denied the allegations stating that the narrative was being perpetuated by their competitors.
“We are a God-fearing group. Personally, I’m saved and I go to Deliverance church and our chairman is a staunch Catholic,” said Jevick.
“Those saying that we belong to Illuminati or any other sect are our competitors and are jealous of our success. We have come from humble beginnings and our growth into a full Sacco has not gone down well with our competitors.”