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Airbnb for cars Zuru goes live in Kenya with self-drive options amidst COVID-19

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Zuru, a new car-sharing platform has launched in Kenya to help car owners earn money on their cars during this difficult COVID-19 pandemic.

Zuru car-sharing app, dubbed as an Airbnb for cars will allow Nairobi car owners to rent out their cars without using an agent by simply uploading images of their car, the price, and description of the car and await a booking call and payment from a customer from the app.

According to Zuru’s co-founder and CEO Rawlings Otini, “Currently, there is lack of order and credibility in the industry, there are conmen posting cars online and asking customers for deposits after which they switch off their phones, we want to end that.”

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For customers, all they need is to install the app, book, and pay through the app and contact the car owner. After paying, the money goes to an escrow account after which the customer gets the contacts of the car owner. When the two meet and the customer is satisfied with the condition of the car, the client clicks the confirm button on the app and the money moves from the escrow account to the car owner’s M-Pesa account.

At the moment, Zuru Car rental is available on the Google Play Store but the firm is working on the iOS version and a web platform. 

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Kenya’s car rental market is worth Sh5 billion in revenues a year according to Euromonitor survey done in 2017 is growing at 8 percent annually.

Zuru aims to be the go-to platform providing room for individuals, leasing firms and car manufacturers who want hire out cars to reach customers cost-effectively.

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The company started as a car hire agency linking car owners to clients, but decided to automate the process in order to easily scale the service to remote areas.

Otini says the app will help reduce the number of idle cars since most cars are idle 95 percent of the time. The system has a rating mechanism where users rate each other with stars to reward good car owners and customers.

M-Pesa is currently the only payment option but the startup is working to include card payment. Rawlings said the app can work in any part of the country or region of the world where M-Pesa is functional and where car owners are willing to lease.

The company has signed up several trusted hosts who have uploaded their vehicles such as Unicorn Car Hire in Westlands, Go4 Fun in Nairobi CBD, Discovery cars among others. 

Individual car owners are also allowed to list their vehicles for free.

Speaking to TechMoran on phone, the CEO said the flexible model allows car owners to unlock value from their cars and earn an extra income, especially during this COVID-19 epidemic where taxi cabs are not as popular. It allows them to get money to pay for car loans, insurance, and repairs.

The app also strengthens car safety by using big data analytics obtained from devices to further secure the cars and reduce cases of rampant car theft. It also employs Google tracking. 

The app deducts 10 percent for every transaction which also includes transaction fees, the rest goes to the car owner.

The company is working with an insurer to provide pay per use insurance for customers who might want to meet the cost of repairs incase of accidents and theft.

Car manufacturers around the world have started leasing out cars while some have started leasing companies due to short term car ownership sessions desired by young people.


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Sam Wakoba
Sam Wakoba
Taking you on tour through Africa's tech and business ecosystem, one story at a time since 2010! Based out of Nairobi, Kenya, Sam is the founder and managing director of Moran Media, which runs, various other digital platforms and a startup incubation hub for Kenya's youthful entrepreneurs. Drop me a mail at [email protected]

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