Meet Master’s Degree graduate eyeing a PhD but is a boda boda rider

Have you witnessed the stark reality faced by Bachelor of Commerce graduates who have resorted to becoming motorcycle taxi drivers, known as boda boda operators, just to make ends meet?

This scenario is just a glimpse into the pervasive unemployment crisis in Kenya. Take the case of Julius Odhiambo in Vihiga, who holds a Master’s degree but finds himself dependent on the boda boda business for survival.

Julius operates his motorcycle taxi in Luanda town, all the while harboring dreams of pursuing a doctorate degree, undeterred by the challenges he faces.

However, at 36 years old, Odhiambo is also actively seeking employment as a lecturer. His journey to this point has been fraught with hardship since his childhood. Orphaned at the age of 15, with both his parents passing away, he faced considerable challenges growing up under the care of his stepmother in Gem, Siaya County.

Financial constraints forced him to attend a village secondary school despite his impressive performance in the KCPE examination. Even during his secondary education, he had to temporarily drop out to support his family, engaging in small businesses to make ends meet. Despite these obstacles, he managed to complete his KCSE with a respectable grade.

Post-education, Odhiambo’s life was marked by various menial jobs, from selling CDs and DVDs to operating a popcorn business. However, it was the decision to invest in a motorbike that significantly altered his trajectory. Taking a loan from Faulu Bank, he ventured into the boda boda business in Luanda, supplementing his income substantially.

Despite the initial success, challenges arose, including a decline in profits due to increased competition and a traumatic encounter with armed thugs that left him incapacitated for eight months. It was during this period of recovery that he decided to pursue higher education, enrolling in Maseno University for a degree in supply chain management.

Funding his education through a combination of savings from his boda boda business, support from fellow operators, loans, and assistance from the Higher Education Loans Board, Odhiambo completed his degree in 2015. However, the job market remained unforgiving, prompting him to further his studies with a Master’s degree, which he completed in 2017.

Despite his academic qualifications, securing employment proved elusive. In an attempt to settle his university arrears, he struck a deal to teach diploma and certificate classes at the Kisumu campus. However, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted these plans.

Despite the setbacks, Odhiambo remains determined to pursue his dreams, with aspirations of becoming a full-time lecturer. In the interim, he continues to serve as a beloved boda boda operator in Vihiga, epitomizing resilience in the face of adversity.