tarted from a scratch in Mombasa 19 years ago, Express Shipping & Logistics Limited (ESL) has today extended its footprint in the entire East African region and this week celebrated its 8thanniversary since it opened its first office outside Kenya- in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Since it was founded in May 2001, it has been a humbling expansion that ESL Managing Director Mr Silvester Kututa now attributes to excellence in provision of logistics related services by a dedicated team the firm has been able to put in place over the years.
“The company’s desire to gain entry into the region has been driven by needs of our customers. We listen to our customers and customize solutions that meet their requirements. This has really helped us scale up our operations in the region. Demand from our customers and strengthening of trade between the East African States have been the hallmark of our recent growth,” Mr. Kututa said.
ESL received ISO 9001:2008 Certification in 2014 and also opened another office in Tanga in Tanzania the same year. In 2017, it received ISO 9001:2015 Certification.
“We continue to see increased trading between the EAC countries. With the ratification of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), we envisage ESL having pan African presence in the near future,” Mr. Kututa added.
With dedication to offering distinctive services to its customers in Kenya, ESL group has grown over the decade from a very small entity in Mombasa to now 4 Major offices in East Africa with a group’s hub office in Nairobi.
It put its footprints in Uganda in 2017 to leverage the firm’s expertise in logistics for its customers in the Great Lakes region of Rwanda, Burundi, Eastern DRC and South Sudan.
Despite Covid 19 challenge, ESL has finally settled on the new normal and adopted guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health to continue serving its regional clientele
“Our office spaces are suitable for social distancing. However, some of our staff work from home, while those who attend to critical operations at our offices do so in shifts. We have also embraced virtual meetings across regionally and globally. The ‘new normal’ is becoming normal,” Mr. Kututa said.
This success has seen ESL emerge a winner of FONASBA award for Quality Standard Award for ships agents. It has also been awarded the New Millennium Award in Madrid, Spain in 2006 and 2007.
In 2014 and 2015, ESL was the highest Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) revenue contributor in the clearing and forwarding category. It has also been accorded Automated Economic Operators status by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), a status that is given to the companies that uphold high standards allowing them to clear goods without going through the rigorous procedures.
“When we started the company in 2001, we didn’t want to start just another company. We committed to operate the company with full focus on our customers’ needs,” Mr. Kututa said in an earlier interview.
The company has expanded its profile and is today serving a wide range of customers spread across many sectors that include construction industry, mining industry, earth moving machinery and building materials.
Other sectors it serves include, agricultural, chemical logistics, marine services, defence, 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,” Mr. Kututa added.
He further said; “Then we walk with them to provide those solutions, and to 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 so long as we are a team. We greatly believe in teamwork.”
Loyal and experienced staff, cost visibility and efficiency in cargo operations and global and regional coverage, which according to Mr. Kututa have all reinforced ESL success. Other principles behind the success include dedication to quality service provision, commitment to building relationships, financial strength and flexibility to invest in equipment and assets that boosts logistics performance.
Express Shipping Logistics (ESL) is also pioneering the use of Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Integrated Customs Management System (iCMS) bulk customs clearance through the port of Mombasa.
This was after successfully rolling out of iCMS air cargo function that went live in various airports across the country including Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on March 10, 2019.
“Since we started using iCMS, we have recorded very good clearance timelines. As a customs agent and a partner to KRA, we are really impressed by the iCMS system,” Mr Kututa said
Added he; “ Expedited customs clearance of cargo will go a long way in helping us fulfil our mission to power our customers to be market leaders and to enhance trade facilitation.”