xpress Shipping & Logistics (ESL) group won the following awards Best Shipping Agent (Tramp Agency)- Express Shipping & Logistics EA Ltd (ESL), and Best Clearing and Forwarding Agent Kenya – ESL Forwarders Ltd in the recently concluded East Africa Maritime Awards (EAMA). Its sister company in Uganda emerged as the first runners up in the Best Clearing and Forwarding Agent Uganda category.
Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) held its second EAMA on September 17, 2021, in Mombasa to recognize the industry’s outstanding practices for Excellence, Sustainability, Training, Technology, Initiative, Personality, and Leadership from the Eastern Africa region.
The event is organized by KPA in partnerships with the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA), Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Trade Network Agency (KenTrade), Shippers Council of Eastern Africa (SCEA), and East African Business Council (EABC).
ESL Founder and Chairman, Mr. Silvester Kututa attributed this victory to the company’s driving philosophy of distinctive service provision and its mission to power its customers to market leadership.
“In whatever we do, we want it to have our signature of excellence,” Kututa, said after the award.
The company was founded in May 2001 and it has been a journey of great success for a company that has seen initial challenges and great opportunities, where many have failed.
Started from scratch in Mombasa, the company has grown to be one of the current region’s leading providers of integrated supply chain solutions with expertise in tramp and liner ships agency, crewing, security agency, and freight forwarding. It has also ventured into project management and customs management, handling an array of commodities imported and exported around the world.
In 2001 and after graduating with a master’s degree in Shipping Management from the World Maritime University, in Sweden, Kututa declined what would have been well-paying job offers in both the UK, Australia, and Dubai, and jetted back to the country to start what has been a twenty years journey.
“It has been an exciting journey to see our growth extend tentacles to other East African countries,” Mr. Kututa said, adding that resilience is critical for investment in logistics as it took him five years to have ESL get headway and 7 years to get a breakthrough.
With branches now in Mombasa, Nairobi, Lamu, Tanzania, and Uganda, the firm recently partnered with the government in piloting the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Integrated Customs Management System (iCMS) and Single Window Maritime System, a ship clearing application that is a joint initiative of Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) and KenTrade that was launched last month.
In an almost similar fashion to how ESL started, the company ventured into Lamu 3 years ago to lay a foundation for business long before the port became operational.
“We are the market leaders in Mombasa handling about 10 percent of the cargo volumes and by implication and lack of choice, as a market leader, we have to take responsibility and shoulder responsibility that comes with it,” Martin Karani CEO at ESL told Freight logistics.
ESL has in recent years been awarded FONASBA Quality Standard Award for ships agents. It has also been awarded ISO 9001:2015 and was awarded New Millennium Award in Madrid, Spain in 2006 and 2007.
Over the recent years, ESL has been the highest revenue contributor to Kenya Ports Authority in the clearing and forwarding category. It has also been accorded Authorized Economic Operators status by KRA, which is given to companies that uphold high standards allowing them to clear goods for Authorized Economic Operator importers and exporters through a dedicated channel. It is KRA’s biggest revenue collector.
“When we started the company in 2001, we didn’t want to start just another company. We committed to operating the company with full focus on our customers’ needs,” Maurine Atieno ESL’s Country Operations Manager said, adding that the company’s vision espouses the belief to deliver distinctive service that powers customers to leadership.
“We have very many testimonies of companies which started with us right from their incorporation, and today, they are leaders in their respective industries. Very many examples. That’s what drives us,” she said.
The company has expanded its profile and is today serving a wide range of customers spread across many sectors that include the construction industry, manufacturing, mining industry, earthmoving machinery, and building materials.
Other sectors served include, agricultural, chemical logistics, marine services, defense, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, cold chains logistics, and cruise and hospitality.
“We value building relationships before any transaction and work extremely hard to ensure we understand the customer’s needs before offering solutions and or task execution. We strongly believe this has had a significant impact on the strong customer base we have built over the years,” Said Florence Tuei ESL’s Sales and Marketing Manager.
She further said; “Then we walk with them to provide those solutions and stand with them in good and tough times. The passion we build in every team member ensures task management is fun and that every task is doable through team synergy. We greatly believe in teamwork.”
Loyal and experienced staff, cost visibility, and efficiency in cargo operations, and global and regional coverage, according to ESL’s Quality and Compliance Manager – Lenrod Mwamburi have all reinforced ESL success. Other principles behind the success include a dedication to quality service provision, commitment to building relationships, financial strength, and flexibility to invest in equipment and assets that boost logistics performance.
The company is affiliated with several professional bodies, which has helped it grow its workforce. These bodies include the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO, Copenhagen), Kenya Ships Agents Association (KSAA), where Kututa is the chairman, and Institute of Chartered Ship Brokers (UK) (ICS).
According to the Group’s CEO, Mr. Martin Karani, the current awards are an affirmation and assurance that the company is not only committed to excellence but also driven by its mission of making its customers leaders in their markets in the entire region.
It also reinforces ESL’s focus to continually innovate the dynamic logistics industry to be the best sought-after employer in the industry.