Own Your Own Boda is Now Tugende

Tugende biz cards medly

Welcome! We hope you enjoy the new look. Click “Main site” above to see our full site, and read on, to find out more about why Own Your Own Boda is now Tugende.

Our brand has been radically revamped with help from our friends at Siegel+Gale, but our core mission is still the same. We still help people own their own bodas and are still committed to promoting opportunity through ownership.

Letting go of our founding name, Own Your Own Boda, was not an easy decision. We decided to go with something shorter, sleeker and still authentic to our origins and our mission. Thanks to amazing support from global branding firm (and Unreasonable Institute sponsor) Siegel+Gale, Tugende (pronounced “Too-Ken-Day”) is alive and beautiful.

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.

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200,000 motorcycle taxis in Kampala?

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 Talks Safety, Driver Welfare in Uganda’s Daily Monitor

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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 (edit: now former) 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.”

Here I am discussing the lax enforcement of legal requirements of riders (Tugende makes sure its drivers are experienced and law-abiding).

New riders flock to the industry because it is profitable and relatively easy to enter. To operate legally, boda riders need a driver’s permit, third-party insurance, a Passenger Service Vehicle license (PSV), and a stage so that they can register with the Boda Boda 2010 Association.

But in reality, many drivers enter the market without the required documentation and Thomson estimates that 30 to 40 per cent of drivers in Kampala are not registered with a stage. “You don’t necessarily need anything [to get started] because there is no enforcement,” Wilkerson says. “A lot of guys will just show up one day and start riding a motorcycle. I think that’s the cause of a lot of dangerous driving and bad behaviour.”

And here I am again explaining why motorcycles are a symptom, not a cause of crazy traffic and bad roads.

“When there isn’t heavy traffic jam, the fact that cars have to come to a near complete stop to navigate a disastrous pothole on a main road means that there is a ripple effect that slows down everything and creates a traffic jam when it’s not congested. The motorcycle can just go around and pass cars,” Wilkerson says.

“If motorcycles are ever going to be a less significant part of transportation in Kampala, there will have to be better and bigger roads and a credible alternative for public transportation.”

Last, I really hope we are helping people get a step up to something beyond driving a motorcycle for their entire life.

As passengers are forced to use boda bodas because of a lack of quick and convenient alternatives, many drivers also join the industry because they do not have other options.

Many riders are able to save money and exit the precarious boda industry, but for others, the process is slow. “Riding a motorcycle can be fun for a while, but no one really wants to be doing this for years and years and years,” Wilkerson explained. “All of our drivers have something they’re aiming for as a next step.”

For tens of thousands, the boda boda business could be a ticket to achieving their dreams, but it is also a difficult and dangerous occupation.

For us, ownership is that first step.

(Photo courtesy of the Daily Monitor).

40 Paid Off Motorcycles and Counting

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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.

If you have ideas about how we can grow even faster, please get involved or get in touch!