Tony Kola Manyala – Interview

/ 12 December, 2019 /        

Cytonn eHub Season 2 came to a close last week Saturday and we took this time to talk to Tony Kola, a fresh graduate from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology (JKUAT). Tony, a participant in our 12-week training program, founded Kidtico Travel Linkers to help solve students transport challenges whenever they leave for mid-semester breaks as well as when schools close for holidays.

Today he shares his entrepreneurial journey, and tasks fellow youth with the responsibility of being job-creators.

Who is Tony and why entrepreneurship?

Tony is a passionate individual with big dreams of solving some problems in society and making the world a better place. I am a fresh graduate from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology (JKUAT) where I pursued a degree in Agricultural and Bio-systems engineering.

Why entrepreneurship? Personally, I believe in creating jobs and helping the society. And what is a better way of doing that than entrepreneurship? Having gone through the education system in Kenya, difficulties in transport to and from school was one of the problems I encountered. In addition to this, I believe there are many other problems in the society, which we face as Kenyan youth, and we need to solve them ourselves. We can’t always wait for other people or the government to solve our problems.

Why a student travelling agency, and how did you settle for the name “Kidtico

As I stated earlier, I have been a student, therefore this is a problem I encountered every time while travelling to school. Now, the name “Kidtico” is a little bit tricky. It can be divided into two: ‘kid’ and ‘tico’. Our clients are students hence the word "kid". “Tico”, on the other hand, is a slang word used by youths to refer to a ticket. So, in essence, “kidtico” means students ticket. The name solely describes our business because originally, we were just providing travel tickets to students.

Tell us more about Kidtico and your unique value proposition.

Kidtico Travel Linkers is a company that mainly work with students and pupils in boarding primary schools, high schools and colleges by providing transport services. We have collaborated with the most effective and executive bus/shuttle companies in the country to ensure that long-distance travelling students are picked from schools during closing days and half-term breaks and dropped off at their nearest home destinations.

The opportunity we saw here was that in Kenya, most of the students travel for long distances to access schools and sometimes booking bus spaces can be difficult, in addition to frequent hikes in bus fares during closing, half term and opening days. We ensure that students and their parents do not worry about transportation, irrespective of how far the school may be. Other than the specific days that students go on breaks, we also provide transport services to schools and students who want to go camping or travel to other school activities. Finally, we also provide a flexible payment plan for parents prior to their children’s travelling dates through our payment platforms.

The idea started five years ago when I was in high school. However, it was initialized in JKUAT a year ago. Currently, we have a team of 3 young people who are dedicated to ensure students and pupils are safe when travelling. These team has brought in many schools and parents into our organization and still working to bring in more from various parts of the country. We aim to cover the whole nation by 2025.

Our main offices are in Thika, Weitethie House; 4th floor. We are available on all platforms; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Parents, teachers and students can also contact us directly through our contact details available on the various platforms.

If you weren’t the CEO of Kidtico Travel Linkers, what would you be doing?

I would probably be working for an engineering company, considering my background in Agricultural and Bio-systems engineering.

Are you also considering a career in Agricultural and Bio-systems engineering?

Yes. I have always wanted to be part and parcel of the food producers in the country. After all, Agriculture is the backbone of our economy. However, this will be later after I/we have completed the process of building Kidtico LLC and grown it to an African-known company.

What have been your greatest challenges so far, and have you been able to overcome them?

The greatest challenge has been coordinating all our activities because we deal with many schools, parents, students, and executive bus companies. However, this has been solved by creating an online system that coordinates all the activities and interactions. However, this system is currently under maintenance and will soon be back to every Kenyan. Also, initially most schools were unwilling to work with us, however, with persistence and good and reliable service they are now subscribing to our services.

Looking back at the 12 weeks of training, do you still think you made the right decision by joining the Cytonn eHub Season 2?

I am convinced that this is one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. As I mentioned before, I have no background in entrepreneurship, even though I started a company. Cytonn eHub has been a blessing to me because of the kind of information that was imparted to me from the first day of training. Most of the things I have learnt in the forum are practical, applicable, and effective. The forum also provided me with the opportunity to network with fellow budding entrepreneurs.

What has stood out for you in the 12 weeks of training?

There are so many things I could discuss the entire training, however, one thing stood out; the training on customer service by Mariam Muhando, the CEO – Cafelatta Coffee Lounge. Customer service is the backbone of every company. This is something that we at Kidtico value a lot because we are mostly dealing with the young population of the nation. We need to offer quality service to make all our clients happy.

Any last words to your fellow youth on entrepreneurship?

For the youthful entrepreneurs, we are the future of this wonderful nation. For those aspiring, what is stopping you?

Thanks a lot for your time Tony, and all the best as you keep pushing to improve yourself and your company.

Thank you too, Victor, and thanks to Cytonn for this amazing opportunity it has provided for the young entrepreneurs to learn ‘the extra’ about becoming sharp entrepreneurs.

 

The Cytonn eHub Season 2 class is set to graduate on 23rd November 2017 during the Cytonn eHub Investors Forum, which will also provide an opportunity for budding entrepreneurs to pitch their businesses for funding before a panel of investors.

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