Paratransit Business Strategies: A Bird’s-Eye View of Matatus in Nairobi

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - paratransit, organisation - management, place - africa


paratransit, Kenya, matatus, organisational forms


Nairobi’s paratransit vehicles—called matatus—provide most of the City’s public transport. They are operated as private for-profit businesses with varying levels of investment, labor, and strategic thinking. The vehicles are subject to regulation but have little regard for laws, regulations, or the comfort of the traveling public. Interviews of informed observers—the “bird’s-eye view”—underscored the business character of matatu firms and revealed considerable variation in business structure, modes of operation, levels of organization, and attitudes towards regulation, and they highlighted ways that government and industry institutions affect matatu organization and operations. This study identified eight elements of matatu business strategy and a continuum of business organization; it also noted an emerging trend towards higher levels of organization through franchising, networking, and ownership of multiple vehicles. The paper suggests that further development of varied organizational forms could hold the key to a more user-friendly public transport system for Nairobi.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by NCTR, copyright remains with them.