Mujaheed Martin started an e-hailing company in December 2020 in Mitchells Plain. We chat to him about changing gears on his employment status, and starting an initiative to assist poor communities.
Where did this all begin for you?
I told myself I need to start doing something. I needed to get busy working. So I started a car wash, and initially I had lots of customers. This kept me going for a few months. The weather played a major role in cancelled bookings. I took a knock here too as I was losing eight to nine car wash bookings a day when it rained. I had to re-imagine something new where the weather wouldn’t influence my business. I struggled to come up with something. Then it dawned on me that transport is a huge industry I could tap into. One of the major problems we face in Mitchell’s Plain and the Cape Flats at large is that major e-hailing companies like Uber and Bolt do not want to drive in township areas. All they see is that these are dangerous areas, and refuse trips. But people need reliable and safe transport no matter where they live. This was how Martin’s Express Shuttle Service started. I saw the gap and my first employee/driver was my stepbrother. He had a car at the time and was someone I could trust with clients. I would facilitate the trips. Once an article in a local paper was released my clientele increased tremendously. My bookings increased so much that I had to hire two more drivers. We do have quiet days, but for the most part we are busy. I will eventually have to hire more drivers as my business grows. I have a strict hiring policy. So I do the necessary screening like license checks and so on first.
What is your day to day like?
I prefer the personal touch of communicating directly with customers via Whatsapp, and not just automated responses from an app. My responses are immediate and I can monitor everything. I know as my business grows I am going to have to hire someone to assist or run the bookings. I want to be accessible. Just send me a message and we go from there. I communicate with an available driver who gets dispatched to a client for a safe trip.
What do you envision going forward?
I want to make this my main stream of income. I want to grow it to the point where we can expand outside of Mitchell’s Plain. I want to hire drivers and cater for people who desperately need transport. I sometimes want to kick myself when I think back of “why didn’t I think of this earlier? But all in good time. In hindsight we always see things differently, but I’m here now and I am happy I can help people. I started an initiative called My Child is Your Child to assist parents who struggle to make ends meet with their children’s school requirements for 2021. We collect all kinds of school items like clothes and stationery. Every bit helps, and support is gladly welcomed. My target is to help 20 kids then go from there. I went from being unemployed in a pandemic to being able to hire people to work. I want to empower as many people as I can.
Martin’s Shuttle Service & My Child is your Child can be contacted on 0682868010.