Tugende is Now Recruiting Summer Fellows for 2014

Tugende 2013 Fellows Jon and Nick, 2nd and 3rd from L, celebrate at a customer appreciation BBQ with other Tugende staff

Tugende 2013 Fellows Jon and Nick, 2nd and 3rd from L, celebrate at a customer appreciation BBQ with other Tugende staff

Tugende is recruiting 2 MBA/MPP students and 2 undergraduates to come help us increase our financial and social impact for the summer of 2014. In 2013 we had fellows from Yale, Columbia, Colorado, and Simon Fraser Universities.

Deadline: March 1st (but applications will be considered as they arrive so apply early!). Send all materials to michael at tugendedriven.com. Already convinced or know someone great? Here are the applications:

*****Undergraduate; *******MBA/MPP

Need more convincing? Here’s how Jon Saunders, Colombia Business School ’14, described his 2013 experience in a recap for his university (click to read the whole thing):

Some people sit at desks and stare at screens the entire summer. I on the other hand, spent the majority of my summer on the back of a motorcycle working for an awesome for-profit social enterprise called Tugende, based in Kampala, Uganda


I didn’t make $20k this summer or get a lucrative offer from a Fortune 500 company; to me though, what I did was much more valuable. I learned that I can thrive in a chaotic environment; that money isn’t nearly as important as we make it out to be; and that there are some really cool jobs out there where you can not only make a living, but also truly have a profound positive social impact. My summer at Tugnede has forever changed the course of my life.

For an even more in-depth take, 2013 Fellow Nick Rodrigues wrote a recommendation for future fellows (and Jon, Nick, and our other fellows Chris Harnisch and Cassandra McColman are all happy to talk to prospective applicants). Back to Nick:

As one of three 2013 MBA Summer Fellows, I highly recommend pursuing a summer internship with Tugende.  As with any start-up, things move very fast and the dynamic international environment is no different.  There is a tremendous learning curve (as with any startup), but the experiential learning and personal growth opportunities were invaluable.  My background is in management consulting and I wanted to get hands-on experience and exposure to the international startup environment.  In contrast to a traditional summer internship, the Tugende Summer Fellowship gave me the opportunity to learn from, and work with, a very talented leadership team and directly impact the strategic direction of an international for-profit social enterprise.  Michael is a great person to work and he gave us the autonomy to work on the projects we were most interested in.  Over the three months, I was involved with everything from systematizing core business processes and financials to defining our market and expansion strategy and social impact metrics.

Two of my most memorable experiences came from interactions with our Boda Boda customers and local staff.  Access to capital is a huge challenge in Uganda and most local lenders believe motorcycle drivers cannot be trusted to repay loans.  By forming personal relationships with our marginalized customers, I learned the majority of them were the most motivated, humble, and reputable individuals I’ve ever met.  I visited their homes and saw how some used a single loan to eventually purchase additional bikes, a car, livestock, property, and, most importantly, the financial freedom to send their children to better schools and increase their family’s socioeconomic conditions.  The work was definitely challenging and the environment was very dynamic, but the relationships and work we were able to deliver made it all worthwhile.  This culminated in our end of summer Customer Appreciation BBQ that had nearly 100 customers in attendance.  Having all the customers in place, I was able to see first hand the impact of our work. Their joy and happiness is unforgettable, and this experience allowed me to understand the profound impact trusting a marginalized community can have in regards to social and business impact.

Secondly, I was equally inspired and humbled by the ambitions of the local staff.  Both Michael [Wilkerson, the CEO] and Paul [Sselunjoji, the Operations Manager] are extremely driven and have the passion, humility and talent to deliver.  Learning the local context from them and the rest of the local team was foundational to my summer experience.  Working with them and the other Summer Fellows has allowed me to adapt, learn, and grow in areas that wouldn’t have been possible in a traditional 3-month internship.  I wouldn’t replace any of these experiences nor the lifelong relationships I was able to forge through my Tugende Summer Fellowship.  I would definitely recommend this adventure and look forward to working with my fellow interns, Michael, and the Tugende team in the future.

Naume (and Tugende) Appear in The Economist’s Africa Blog


Baobab, the Africa blog of prominent glossy weekly The Economist, ran a short story about Naume Awero, Kampala’s fearless female boda boda driver, who is a current Tugende customer. Tugende got to add to Naume’s praise and do a little promotion. Below is an excerpt, but read the whole thing:

According to [a] local newspaper a few female drivers exist in rural parts of Uganda. But Tugende, a firm providing loans in the form of motorbikes to recommended drivers in a hire-purchase arrangement, says she is the only one in Kampala.

“We interact with hundreds if not thousands of drivers all over Kampala, and as far as we know, Naume is the only female,” says Michael Wilkerson, co-founder and CEO. “This not only shows how brave she is, but the level of enthusiasm she generates shows how much potential there is for other women to buck stereotypes and join the industry. “

Ms Awero has succeeded in a male-dominated industry and defied the odds in her personal life. Abandoned by her mother at 12 following her father’s death, she was raped and at 13 became pregnant.

When a male boda driver joked she should borrow his bike, the single mother of two took on the challenge. She asked the university where she was working as a security guard for a loan, borrowing the rest of the money from a bank.