Akera, who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Management from Gulu University, is among the few notable young faces on the streets of Gulu town, who have taken on a mobile car washing business
In the scorching sun, Denis Akera, 25, is busy washing a car with his employees on Labwor Road in Gulu Municipality. His job is not what many graduates would wish to do, after spending years at the university, coupled with its negative low pay perception. But for Akera, this is the job that has seen him through the university.
Akera, who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Management from Gulu University, is among the few notable young faces on the streets of Gulu town, who have taken on a mobile car washing business.
A resident of Pece Vanguard, in Gulu and second youngest child in a family of seven, Akera says his business has saved him from the hurdles of applying for jobs, he is not even sure of getting, looking at the level of unemployment.
Starting the business
The idea to start a mobile car washing business came from the inspirational business advice of his former class teacher, while at Kyambogo College School in 2009.
“Before breaking off for my Senior Six vacation, our class teacher advised students to open up small business, that will support them while they wait to join higher institutions of learning.
“In 2010, while in my vacation, I sold the idea to some of my close friends to open up a mobile car washing business. I borrowed Shs1.2 million from a friend, which I used as start-up capital for buying some of the necessary materials for the business,” Akera recalls.
Akera got a metallic cart at Shs400,000 and bought second hand car tyres at Shs100,000.
He also bought a 1,000-litre water tank at Shs500,000 plus buckets at Shs50,000.
“I spent the rest of the money on wiper towels and small hard brushes plus detergents and car sprays. I was left with only Shs3,000, as my working capital but I was determined to hit the road for business,” he says.
With the materials in place, he named the business, DIANZ Mobile Car Washing. DIANZ is a combination of his names Denis Akera.
Venturing into the business
“It was not an easy venture given that my business was a little unique in the region. Many people were used to car washing bays on the outskirts of the town,”
After five months of not earning much from the business and getting few customers, his hopes were almost frustrated until he got a contract with NUDEIL, an NGO operating in the region.
“It was a turning point since we got a contract to wash all the organisation’s cars and motorcycles on a weekly basis,” Akera says.
Every week, together with his team, they would wash 10 vehicles and eight motorcycles which used to fetch at least Shs700, 000.
Akera says he later started getting calls from the staff of NUDEIL to wash their personal cars, and later they began recommending him to other clients because of his quality service.
“Many people started contacting me, because of the skill I had exhibited in doing the job. It was also to their advantage that I could get to the clients’ homes to offer the services,” he says.
Emmanuel Mwaka, a special hire taxi driver at Gulu Bus Park, says he has used Akera’s services for three years now.
“His services are convenient and he is a trustworthy person. I have never lost anything in my car since I started using his services. In the past, a lot of things would go missing in the car, but with him, everything is just the way you leave it,” he says.
“I have a wide base of clients who contact me. On a daily basis, I wash between five and seven cars,” says Akera.
He was able to pay tuition for his three-year course at the university with ease, until he completed it in 2013.
“I’m able to cater for my needs and as I talk now I have Shs5m in savings,” he proudly says.
At the moment, Akera employs four permanent employees. He says he pays them on commission basis, depending on the magnitude of business they have got in a day.
He says he earns between Shs 30,000 and 50,000 daily, and it is mostly during rainy seasons since most of the roads are feeder roads, with many potholes.
“However, there are days we hardly earn money, because our business depends on whether a customer has called us to wash their cars,” he says.
Akera has since introduced fumigation, tank cleaning and office cleaning projects, to add on to his mobile car washing business.
“I intend to recruit more employees to help me handle the new project, since I have many organisations and individuals who have contacted me to provide cleaning and fumigation services,” he says.
Akera says his biggest challenge has been getting honest employees, who are dedicated and share his aim of growing the business.
“Each day, I have to supervise my employees, because if I relax, they can’t perform to the expectation of the clients,” he says.
Despite these challenges, he says youth in the region should embark on job creation that will reduce on the hurdles of looking for jobs.
He points out that the number of youth graduating from the university at the moment surpasses the number of jobs on the market, therefore it makes sense that youth should create the jobs themselves.
I plan to register the company with the registrar of companies, so that I run my business without being disturbed by the Municipal authorities.
Open a washing bay so that I expand my client base.
Buy a car to ease my movement within the town.