Ajiboye Taofek has discovered a simple and very lucrative way of making money and you may not believe how much he makes monthly even in the face of the so called recession.
His secret business is using his “keke” to do school runs for busy parents. Several “keke” drivers have converted their tricycle for school runs. This is because the very hectic nature of modern living, where both parents go to work, is forcing most parents to look for alternative ways of taking their children to school, especially where the schools do not own school buses.
It is in this light that the solution being proffered by some commercial tricyclists and motorcyclists, who engage in school runs, is whole-heartedly embraced by some parents. They usually arrange with interested parents to take their children to and from school on a daily basis for an agreed sum of money.
In an interview with the Guardian, Simeon Onyeukwu, who has been in the business for the past three years, says this line of business is one that requires care and passion to make the right money.
“We are essential to single parents, who often have to combine parenting with their regular jobs. In such cases, we fill the vacuum by relieving them of the stress of having to drop and pick their children after school every day. To such people, we are like a bridge linking their homes with their children’s school. So, while they are at work, they are rest assured that their children’s welfare is taken care of in this regard. And it has become an avenue of earning a decent living for some of us.
“This business has become essential, as not all private schools have school buses, just as not all parents have their own vehicles to take their children to school. But children have to attend school, even if they have to trek. As most parents do not want to see their children stressed, they engage us and we relieve them of this burden.
“I service 10 families of 48 children daily. I take them to school and bring them back. I begin work each day from 6.30am and by 8 to 8. 30am, I am through with the morning run. I go back again between 3pm to 5pm, when the evening session will be over. I sometimes run six times to and from the pupils’ homes and their schools because they do not attend the same school.
“I charge N1, 000 per child per week, from Monday to Friday. If I am to do extra time such as taking a child to his/her examination centre, I charge differently for that. The business is good, but each time schools observe their three-week end-of-term holidays, I go back to doing my city commuting business,” he said.
On how he gets his clients, Onyeukwu disclosed that it is mostly through lead. He explained that parents are interconnected and also discuss their common problems. So, whenever a parent has found a solution to any problem, he/she tells others.
“I started by conveying my neighbours’ children and before I knew it, other parents were approaching me, offering different sums of money as incentive. At first, I found it amusing, but after considering the advantages and disadvantages in it, I realised it is a venture that would fetch good money. So, I decided to go into it, and ever since then, I have never looked back.
“Do you know that I make about N50, 000 per week and close to N200, 000 per month from this venture? I don’t have to settle police, local government agencies or the area boys. The arrangement is just between the school, the parents and I. The business has taken away the stress and trouble of doing the normal commercial tricycle business, which I now do at my leisure,” he said.
Is it a venture anyone can engage in? Olusegun Oriyomi replied in the affirmative.
“So long he/she has the integrity to do it. Anyone going into the business must be trustworthy, as the business entails handling other people’s children like yours.
“Whenever you are with the children, you are like their parents and must ensure that they are safe. Some parents even go to the extent of handing over their children’s feeding money for the day to you to give to their teachers; so, it has to do with trust. But then, the parents also watch us closely and at the slightest sign of betrayal, they communicate with one another and that would be the end of the business for you.
“Apart from trust, you also supply people with your address, phone numbers and such other relevant information. You must be easily accessible to clients. You should also let your neighbours know about your business, as this helps to improve your credibility. If your neighbour recommends you, a potential client is assured of your trustworthiness.
“For you to grow in the business, do not hide your identity or mix with people of questionable character because parents are particularly concerned about their children’s safety,” he explained.
On what it takes to be successful in the business, Akeem Ariyo, who started the business two years ago said one must have a good and neat tricycle, as well as register with the local branch of tricycle riders association. This, he said, is to enable the rider move without molestation on the roads and to help him when there is trouble.
“A rider has to register with the local branch of the National Commercial Tricycle and Motorcycle Owners and Riders Association (NACTOMORAS) to operate. He must also identify with a park. Aside from this guaranteeing him the right to operate, it shows clients that the operator is not a fraudster.
“The business is good and within eight months, I have been able to purchase two tricycles of my own. I started with the one I got on hire purchase and today, the business has hastened the payment and I have been able to buy another. I have seven families of about 20 children. I charge between N700 and N800 per child per week, which gives me about N64, 000 a month aside the money I make within the period I am off season,” he explained.
Disclosing some of the challenges in the business, Ajiboye Taofeek said that meeting up with parents’ and schools’ time is very important, as it would give you more leads. Also, riders must shun busy highways to avoid accidents
“Everyday, I leave home by 6am for the pupils’ homes. I pick them from their different homes and then take them to their various schools. It is rather hectic moving from one school to another in the morning, when human and vehicular traffic are high, especially when the children are not from the same family and do not attend school in the same location. The 20 children in my care are in six different schools though in the same council, but not on the same street.
“One of the ways of earning parents’ trust and patronage is by being prompt, and ensuring that the children do not get to school late under any circumstance. They should also be returned home early. But if for whatever reason, I am unable to do this, I usually call to explain my predicament and as humans, they always listen to me,” he said.
Listing some of the gains, Taofeek noted that the business brings in regular income, which has helped him to invest in other businesses.
“I never imagined one could make up to N150, 000 per month from the business. And through discipline, I was able to save a lot of money in a year, which ran into about N1.5m and now I have two other businesses. No bank would have given me a loan of that amount for me to start those businesses. School run may be highly demanding on the part of the rider, but it is really worth the trouble. It brings in regular income,” he said.
On how best to monitor operators so that they do not run off with the children, Olumide Balogun, a parent, said: “Parents should know where the riders live, have their personal telephone numbers, including that of their wives, as well as ensure that they are registered and known in their local branches of NACTOMORAS. Though they give so much respite, but we should still monitor them to avoid abuses,” he said.
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