James Mwaura, founder and CEO at Holiday Group of Companies

Unrivalled reputation for innovation has seen the firm attain market leadership

The transport sector is vital for social and economic development of any nation. In Kenya, road is the most common means of transport. While using the road, people may walk, others use bicycles, motorcycles, matatus, private or hired cars. And while choosing a rental vehicle, there is always a headache of getting the most affordable and reliable auto provider.

Holiday Cars and Tours is a leading transport provider in Kenya and the larger East Africa. The firm offers vehicle rental services to individuals, businesses and organizations. “Whether you need transport for employees, have a seasonal rental demands, or need an alternative to pool cars, we can develop a flexible programme that’s right for you,” opens up James Mwaura, the founder and chief executive at Holiday Group of Companies.

He underscores this by saying that the firm provides a dedicated account manager to understand a client’s a local and international rental needs.

“Our approach is simple,” he adds.  “We offer very competitive rates, reliable and easy to use services.”

Asked how he does it better?

“We started a business line that we were quite familiar with. My 10 year experience as a chief accountant at a firm owned by DT Dobie also proved invaluable.”

He goes on: “At the time the economy was on its death bed, and retrenchment was the order of the day, I was worried about my job security. I had to take care of my destiny. And entrepreneurship proved to be the best bet.”

He started off with 16 vehicles as a side hustle in the year 2000. 12 of the vehicles, he says, fetched lucrative contracts. Sooner, he realized that he was making more money from the hustle than from his day job. He resigned to focus on his budding business.

He later realized that running a firm was completely different from being employed.

Important Business Lessons Learnt

Entrepreneurship has no comfort zone. He had to fully take care of his growing responsibilities, however little they were.

Our Fleet2He also had to work strategically to ensure that the business would be sustainable and grow.

Since then, he has steered Holidays Cars and Tours to become the leader in its line of business in the region. It has a fleet of more than 720 vehicles with a mission to be the most reliable transport company.

“Our slogan ‘We Take You There’ is more than just a campaign. It is our heritage, our vision and the core of our company culture. Our customers know that it promises a dedication to better services, a sense of purpose. It means achieving the best solution for our customers in any situation – doing the impossible.”

Along the way the firm has built unrivaled reputation for innovating and setting standards.

The firm provides Mini Buses (7-24 seats) and Coaches and Buses (24-69 seats). The quotes include the vehicle, driver, insurance and all vehicle running costs, allowing less stress and more time to plan your tour or event. It does not offer self-drive hire.

“We also allow you to go wherever you want, in a safe and reliable manner with local Coaches, local drivers and local knowledge of locations, areas and events. If you are traveling in a smaller group then our mini bus hire services are ideal,” says Mwaura.

Services offered include Vehicle Hire, Leasing, Taxis, Hotel Transfers, Tours and Safari Bookings, Hotel accommodation and shuttle transfers.

This has seen corporate clients forming big chunk of the firm’s clients. A number of government parastatals and NGOs also add up to the list.

Along the way there was need to take charge of the insurance of the vehicles which prompted the firm to diversify and establish its own insurance agency-BridgeSure Insurance Brokers. Over time, the agency has grown to service the market and now looks to venture into brokerage to diversify its portfolio and service offering.

Holiday Defensive Driving School was also born in 2009 and currently has footprints in 16 locations across the country. Besides teaching conventional driving, the school goes ahead to equip learners with road safety and defensive skills which make them competent drivers.

Going forward

“With the economy is growing, there will be more demand for transport solutions. The same can be said of infrastructural developments like roads and the SGR which will impact the economy in a major way,” observes Mwaura adding that: “It also calls for us to be strategic and tap on new and emerging markets for growth. For instance Japan exports 300,000 vehicles every month with 5000 vehicles coming to Kenya. This gives you a glimpse of the industry needs in Kenya.”

Mr. Mwaura at a glance

  • He is an established entrepreneur with strong business leadership and governance skills.
  • He holds graduate business management degree and Executive MBA from University of Sunderland in the UK, a graduate of Strathmore Business School and several professional and business certification courses.
  • He was the president of the Rotary Club of Nairobi South 2012/13.
  • He is the assistant governor in Rotary District 9212 in charge of Hurlingham, Karengata, Syokimau and Naivasha clubs.
  • He has interest in financial empowerment and intermediary.
  • He enjoys playing golf and is a royal member of Limuru Golf and Country Club and Nairobi Golf Club.