Mr Hilary Kiplagat is not your ordinary boda boda rider.
As he rides his motorcycle at the dusty Torongo trading centre, in Eldama Ravine, Baringo County, he elicits both hope and despair among jobless youths.
The 32-year-old is a Master’s degree holder. He also has a First Class Bachelor of Commerce degree in procurement and supplies management from the University of Nairobi.
Not many pay much attention to the youthful rider who was awarded a scholarship for Master of Business Administration degree in procurement and supplies management by the University of Nairobi.
He wrote a thesis on supply management practices and performance of Kenyan public universities.
Mr Kiplagat, who now ekes a living from what was not his dream career, has demonstrated mastery to ride a motorcycle and has not lost hope for a brighter future.
“I’m planning to continue running my boda boda business until a good Samaritan comes to my aid,” said Mr Kiplagat.
He says although he has high hopes of a white collar job, he is not quitting the boda boda business.
“I believe God works in mysterious ways and He will one day determine the right path I will take,” he told Nation at his Nerkwo village on September 21, 2019.
“Working as a boda boda rider is not easy, it can be stressful at times. I am often ridiculed on social media forums whenever the issue of unemployment comes up,” he says.
“Some of my employed friends and alumni at the University of Nairobi keep on wondering why I am stuck in this job despite my good academic background,” said Mr Kiplagat.
He says his friends’ concerns are genuine and irritating at the same time.
“I have bills to pay at the end of the day,” he noted.
He added: “I have changed the mentality of boda boda riders about their job. They know I have higher qualifications but still do the same job they do.”
“I won’t mind taking up a job in my field of study, my dream is to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in procurement,” added Mr Kiplagat whose two-year search for a job has been fruitless.
“I have sent a dozens of job applications including the recent census without success,” he said.
Interestingly, many of Mr Kiplagat’s clients at Torongo trading centre admire his resilience and hard work.
“Many pick on me because they hear and read on social media that there is a boda boda with a Master’s degree. They want to test my riding skills,” he added.
He is now a symbol of hope to many who despise boda boda business.
“Boda boda business is probably one of the most challenging jobs. I wake up at 5am and sleep late in the night, yet I worked hard at university and got the best grades,” he said.
To succeed Mr Kiplagat has to work extra hard. He says although he is able to meet some of his needs and even make some small savings, it is still not a walk in the park.
“It is an extremely tedious and risky job, especially when many boda boda riders are branded criminals,” he says.
He says it has been difficult to convince the community which sacrificed to educate him that despite his academic achievements, it is still fine to engage in boda boda business as he tries to secure a better job.
He says poor road network and lack of street lights at Torongo trading centre make his work difficult, especially when it rains.
He says he bought his motorbike at Sh102,000 from his savings on stipends he got during his Master’s degree at the University of Nairobi.
“On a good day I get between Sh500 and Sh700,” says the Kabarnet Boys Secondary School student.