We’re finally, formally Tugende, and sent out a newsletter to friends and supporters to let them know.
We are proud to announce that Own Your Own Boda has been officially renamed, reregistered and revamped to Tugende (pronounced Too-Ken-Day). We look forward to growing dramatically with our new brand while retaining our core mission of helping self-employed individuals get the opportunity to take control of their own financial futures. The decision to change names wasn’t easy, though, and we wanted to explain how and why it came about–especially for those sad to see OYOB shelved.
When Matt, Medie and I (see us above with our first bike) sat down in mid-2010 to choose a name for what was then a small scheme for motorcycle loans, we didn’t put a lot of thought into it. The overwhelming opinion of our friends and colleagues in Kampala, Uganda was that we were crazy and there was no way to make this a real business. Our first attempt was overloaded with creativity: “MMM Limited,” or possibly “MMM Enterprises.”
That’s what the Kampala Central Division Boda Boda Association estimated in the Daily Monitor story in which Tugende was featured yesterday:
There is no way to accurately count the number of boda boda riders in Kampala and quoted estimates from authorities range between 50,000 and 800,000. Richard Kibikwamu, the general secretary of the Kampala Central Division, Boda Boda 2010 Association, said there are approximately 200,000 boda riders and 5,000 stages in Kampala.
There really is little accurate way to tell–though we might be partnering on some market research to take a more educated guess sometime soon. At the moment, sticking with our “more than 100,000 drivers in Kampala” seems like a safe bet.
Tugende was prominently mentioned in a feature article about the motorcycle taxi industry in today’s Daily Monitor. This follows an earlier profile of the company (as Own Your Own Boda) in 2011. In today’s story, we got to weigh in on the challenges and opportunities, and how motorcycles are a logical response for drivers and customers to Kampala’s crazy roads and potholes.
Here’s managing director Medie talking about the huge increase in riders:
Medie Sebi Ssuna was a motorcycle mechanic who used to earn around Shs70,000 per week, but in 2001, he discovered that he could make more money by riding the bodas he used to repair. Now, he has been in the industry for more than a decade and he is the Managing Director of Tugende LLC, a business that gives loans to drivers so that they can own their own motorcycles.
According to Ssuna, the industry has changed a lot in the past decade and greater competition has affected drivers’ profits. “You cannot make as much money as we used to make in 2001,” he says, “But at least no one goes home without anything. Although the riders are many, the passengers are more because of the traffic jam. It is very possible to support a family by being a boda boda rider.”
As January closed, we had our 40th motorcycle fully paid off, with many more nearing completion, and more than 60 current riders on the road. In the next few months we expect to have more than 80 active clients and 50 completed loans–more than double where we were following the Unreasonable Institute’s close in August.
Our waiting list is pushing above 30 drivers, but repayments are close to 100% so many on the waiting list, like Ronald Semanda (pictured above) will be rolling on their own motorcycle soon.
It may be surprising, but turkey is actually catching on in Uganda. The Tugende team had Thanksgiving dinner at La Fontaine, one of our favorite homes away from the office. Sara, the longstanding proprietor, embodies the stereotype of Ugandan matriarch business owner–no nonsense, but trying to make sure all her staff and regular customers are taken care of. She hosted a Thanksgiving for all of us feeling a little homesick but too lazy to pluck and cook our own turkey, as well as some friends curious about this bizarre American food-bingeing holiday.
Tugende assistant manager Gab, above left, clearly got into the spirit.
Welcome! We hope you enjoy the new look.
While our brand has been radically revamped with help from our friends at Siegel+Gale, our core mission is still the same. We still help people own their own bodas and are still committed to promoting opportunity through ownership.
More updates to come as we finalize the rebrand and continue to grow our operations in Uganda. Stay in touch!