Huib Van Grijspaarde, a Dutch businessman, set up Kibo Africa Limited in Kenya in 2017 with no background in the motorcycle business.
He is now one of the biggest players in the Kenyan motorcycle business as he heads one of the few companies that assemble motorcycles in East Africa.
“I went through a typical Dutch education system and I was a typical teenager whose school was not a top priority. When I got to college to study economics, I dropped out after the first year. I went to the US and UK for 10 years and thereafter went back to school. I eventually went ahead to study development economics for my master’s, which I enjoyed,” he said.
Kibo Africa Ltd deals with the assembly of motorbikes and the businessman revealed that he settled on setting up the company in Kenya after visiting three West African countries.
Kibo Africa Ltd assembles three motorcycle models, the Kibo K-150, Kibo K-160 and Kibo K-250. Kibo K-160 is an upgrade of the K-150
“We launched Kibo in 2017 and before settling down in Kenya, I visited three other countries in West Africa namely Ghana, Togo and Benin then I later came to East Africa,” Grijspaarde told the Business Daily.
Before setting up the company in 2017, the businessman focused on research and development on what the market needed, what the terrain was like, and what motorcycles would work best.
He did his research for six years and after settling on the best option, he invested Ksh2 billion into the business.
One of the reasons why he chose to set up the company in Kenya is because of Kenya’s strategic location. This is because the motorbike parts used are imported from Europe and China.
“We source our components from Europe and Asia but the whole assembly process is done in Kenya,” the businessman said.
The other reason why the Dutchman, chose to invest Ksh2 billion into Kenya’s motorcycle industry was because the industry was well developed compared to the West African industry.
“When I compared Kenya to the other three countries in 2011, boda boda was not as big as it was in West Africa so I saw an opportunity that we were ready to fill,” the businessman said.
He added that he had initially set his mind on the boda boda market but after research he found out that it was not viable due to the cost of production.
“If we were to go into the boda boda business it meant that we would have to lower the quality of our motorcycle to compete with other players in the market and that was not possible for us,” he said.
Kibo Africa Ltd assembles three motorcycle models, the Kibo K-150, Kibo K-160 and Kibo K-250. Kibo K-160 is an upgrade of the K-150. The company is also the official distributor of Kenda tyres for boda boda in the country.
The market for Kibo Africa Ltd includes governments, corporates and NGOs and the prices for the motorcycles range between Ksh190,000 and Ksh390,000 exclusive of value-added tax (VAT).
The businessman added that the company had 60 employees and one of the challenges they faced was the dollar to Kenya shilling rate.
“The dollar to Kenya shillings exchange rate is the greatest challenge we face. We buy all our parts in dollars and sell in Kenya shilling so when the shilling drops in value against the dollar we experience a reduction in profit margin,” he said.
Boda boda riders at the junction of Kirinyaga and Racecourse Road in Nairobi on June 27, 2017.