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car sharing- the idea

Hey people, well today we are going to be talking about car sharing; exactly what it is and how it could be a potentially lucrative business venture for you, from your car; on the other side of the divide, car sharing could give you far more options that the regular brick and motor. In more ways than one, it is better for both sides.  So what exactly is car sharing? Well first, you need to understands what economy sharing is- it’s the broader class in which car sharing finds itself. A sharing economy is an economic model in which individuals are able to borrow or rent assets owned by someone else. The sharing economy model is most likely to be used when the price of a particular asset is high and the asset is not fully utilized all the time. Also known as shareconomy, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, or peer economy, a common academic definition of the term refers to a hybrid market model (in between owning and gift giving) of peer-to-peer exchange. Such transactions are often facilitated via community-based online services. Collaborative consumption as a phenomenon is a class of economic arrangements in which participants mutualize access to products or services, rather than having individual ownership. To mention just a few economy sharing ideas that are hugely successful, Uber definitely comes to mind. Uber capitalized from the gaps in the taxi business to create an online platform that has become incredibly difficult to live without- in some cities, it has become the daily bread of daily commute. Other companies such as lyft and eBay; amazon to some extent, OLX and Jumia have also explored the avenues that collaborative consumption brings. And it is through this model that car sharing is- people with cars effectively renting them out to people without them for specific purposes and a period of time.

Now, when you think of car sharing, think of the traditional renting of vehicles, because in more ways than one, car sharing borrows heavily from car renting in the traditional sense, after all; it is car renting. So you walk into your favourite car rental firm,(for the purpose of this example, lets create a virtual company, let’s call it CarWorldHire); So you walk into CarWorldHire and request for a car, the lovely lady at the counter checks whether the specific car you requested is available, she tells you yes it is, takes you out back to the parking lot, shows it to you, gives you all the specs, the details shows you the car’s condition- you really do like it, so you ask how much? She gives you the price, explains the terms and conditions, gives you a form where you enter your details and specify the duration you’ll have the car, you sign it, pay for the vehicle, take the car and you’ll be on your merry way. After the agreed period of time, you come back, return the vehicle, she inspects its condition, you’re both happy, she says “It’s a pleasure working with you, thank you for choosing CarWorldHire” with a smile, you say thank you, and leave, right? Essentially that’s the entire procedure of hiring a vehicle anywhere in the world- the medium could change, for example, instead of being there to physically book the car, you could do it online; however, the gist of the process is essentially the same. This couldn’t be truer about car sharing, the process is the same, the only difference here is that, instead of being only two parties, (the car rental firm and the client), there is one more player- lets break it down, shall we?

Car sharing has 3 main parts; the facilitator, the provider and the client. The first two have to work well together to ensure availability of the vehicle while the latter is basically the targeted audience. Like any other economy sharing platform, the three segments have got to be synergetic to ensure success.


The provider:

This is the person that owns the vehicle. In many ways, he’s the cog in the wheel of the entire operation. The provider (a term also interchangeable with partner), may want to earn from their assets, in this case, their cars. This is the main reason why they would want to tap into this venture; maybe because 4 years ago, the car sharing business was worth about $1 billion but in 2020, it will be estimated to be worth $6.2 billion a year. That is 620% in growth over just 7 years, a staggering 88.6% in growth every single year with only over 12 million members worldwide. The opportunities to scale up from this venture are virtually limitless. Now if you bring the idea of exactly how many people need the service, people who only want to buy mobility instead of a car- this is an untapped market that is difficult to sate- it could generate enough income to run and maintain the vehicles for the owner. The provider is solely responsible for maintenance of the vehicle.

The client:

The client is the market. It is who the market is for. A second important vertex of the triangle. The client is who the entire business targets- They are the main factors driving the growth of carsharing- the rising levels of congestion faced by city dwellers, shifting generational mindsets about car ownership- especially the idea of buying mobility rather than a car, the increasing costs of personal vehicle ownership.

The facilitator:

This is the silent player behind the car sharing idea. They provide the platform for both the client and provider to interact. They facilitate and ensure quality, they build trust and are the umbrella under which the entire system runs. It is the final piece of the triangle where all transactions and exchanges are done. The facilitator makes all the rules and terms of service to the client with deliberation with the partners, and to the partners who are on the platform. Aside from the pricing (which the owner does), control is given to the facilitator (much like way Uber does it).

Difference between car sharing and traditional car renting

So how is car sharing different from the traditional rental brick and motor, large parking lot car rental agencies that are there today? Well car sharing differs from traditional car rentals in the following ways:

  • It is not limited by office hours
  • Reservation, pickup, and return is all self-service
  • Vehicles can be rented by the minute, by the hour, as well as by the day
  • Users are members and have been pre-approved to drive (background driving checks have been performed and a payment mechanism has been established)
  • Vehicle locations are distributed throughout the service area, and often located for access by public transport.


Car sharing in Kenya- Syfe

Car sharing and the entire economy sharing model is a novelty in Africa, and here in Kenya. Syfe carhire is a pioneer in this field, here in Kenya. Syfe locally leverages on the peer to peer car rental industry. And the tool they use is technology. Unlike the traditional car rental system, the user/client can search through a plethora of listings to find the perfect car for them. This can be done online, from searching for a vehicle, to checking it’s availability, to booking the car, all in the space of less than 20 minutes. There is even this feature on the website where you can request for the car and have a number of providers bid for the request.

The real upside to using syfe for the provider is that 80% of each complete booking goes to the owner of the vehicle. The car generates revenue, even when you are in the comfort of your living room, or in the office, rather when you aren’t using it. The providers get to set the terms of use, and the price- and they have control over whether the vehicle is available or not, how much it costs, where it goes, etc. and Syfe platform does the rest. This means, in a good month, the car can earn your entire fuel charges and service costs for you, without you having to work for it- overall, this becomes another source of income generation.

For the client, the one advantage they get at Syfe is variety; because of the favorable terms targeted to the car owners (partners), Syfe has a plethora of vehicles in their listings and the beauty is, there is every kind of car for everyone; and the Syfe community of partners keeps on growing, and growing. It’s a car on demand platform tailored around you- the client; everything is organized to ensure that your needs are met efficiently. One more thing is that the platform was created to cultivate trust by also integrating both online bookings and face to face meet-ups at the discretion of the client. Face-to-face meetings are vital to syfe. Satisfaction is highest on both the owner and renter side when they meet in person and exchange keys. For owners/providers it cultivates trust in the renter, while for renters they get help on information about the car especially if they are not familiar with the model and therefore have less confusion using the car. This is the final piece of the Syfe puzzle.

We see a future of a Syfe community. Enhanced simplicity in accessing vehicles on demand. A community that enjoys the benefits of car sharing on both sides of the divide; and the ripple effect it  would have on the industry; an idea that shifts the paradigm of the entire industry here in Kenya and across Africa. We are currently developing our Android and IOS app that corroborates both renter and owners.

Benefits of car sharing

So why car sharing? What possible reason is there to venture into this field? Well, I’m glad you asked. First off, cars spend 95% of the time parked- meaning we only use our cars 5% of the time, on average every day; translate this to a year, your car spends over 300 days a year parked, on average. Now this is a long long time, time that if just 10% was turned productive, could have earned you enough to run your car for a quarter- and that’s the premise; that’s the potential you have in your garage.

Car sharing can also provide numerous transportation, land use, environmental, and social benefits. Neighbourhood car sharing is often promoted as an alternative to owning a car where public transit, walking, and cycling can be used most of the time and a car is only necessary for out-of-town trips, moving large items, or special occasions.

To the client, car sharing provides an array of vehicles to choose from, you are literally spoilt for choice- and this effectively brings healthy competition and in itself ensures the best quality for the best price for the client.

Thanks for reading, share widely, and join the car sharing venture, it’s wide roads, full speed ahead for you; As always, we’d love to hear from you, so if you have any thoughts, be sure to tell us in the comment section…


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