Tugende customer Brian Kirunda is 14 months into his Tugende lease, and on his way to ownership. We caught up with him recently to talk about how he entered the industry, why he chose Tugende, and what he plans to do after becoming a full owner of his own motorcycle.
How did you start riding a boda boda?
I’ve been riding a boda boda for 4 years. I stopped school in 2005 in Senior One because my dad died and my mom didn’t have enough money at the time. I was in Jinja, so I started digging on a farm, but a guy hired me to work as his houseboy in Kampala. My responsibilities were mopping the house, fetching water, making juice, watching the gate.
I wanted to be like that guy, my boss, because he was very rich. I wanted to buy my own plot in the village and build a house.
In 2007, I started working at a chapatti stand on the side of the road. I saved money for 7 months and started my own stand–I had to buy a table, frying pan, all the materials. One day a boda guy came and told me he was selling his bike–it was very old so the price was low. I hired another worker to make chapattis and started riding boda boda.
At first it was hard, because I didn’t know the prices or the locations most customers wanted to go. At first I thought I would save some money and go back to school, but then I got another plan to save money for a bike and to buy a plot of land.
Why did you apply for a motorcycle from Tugende?
I had a bike that I was paying off to another boss. But I recommended another driver to the same boss, and he lost the bike. The boss arrested me and said that because I brought the friend I was responsible. Instead of letting him take me to prison I agreed to give him back the motorcycle I had almost paid off. Then I needed a new motorcycle.
I had seen these bikes with the letter “T” behind [Tugende has a metal “T” above the number plate] but I didn’t know what they were. My friend told me that there was a company offering motorcycles and luckily enough it was near my stage. I saved some money to pay the initial deposit and my mother also helped me by selling three goats in the village.
When I came to the office, I liked the rules, like not driving at night, because that can save your life. I also like the focus on good driving. It is better to spend a long time [on one trip] than to spend a long time recovering in the hospital.
The weekly payments were fair because I was paying almost as much to my other boss but the bike was old and it didn’t have a helmet, license or metal guards. Tugende is also flexible with me when I tell them I’m sick, I just have to catch up on payments later. I’m also excited because Tugende is now helping me get my driver’s permit.
What do you plan to do after owning your own motorcycle?
First of all I’m planning to thank this company, Tugende, for what I will be. I already use some of my extra money to help my mom with my sister’s school fees, and I will increase on that, and building my own house in the village.
Next I’m planning save more money every day because I won’t have to pay anyone. That’s why I make good maintenance on my bike, because I know what I want. I’ll use that money to buy another new bike and help my family eat fish or meat every weekend. After getting the new bike, it will help make even more money and start looking for an even better business. Maybe I can become a chicken farmer.
I want the boda boda industry to help me save capital, not be my job for another 40 years or forever. When you are old, you don’t have balance. But for now, this is the best way to build my savings.