Tugende, a for-profit social enterprise based in Uganda, announced today its launch of “Tugende VIP” (www.tugendevip.com) a premium brand of uniformed and highly trained drivers of boda bodas (motorcycle taxis).
Tugende (www.tugendedriven.com) offers an affordable lease-to-own model to help motorcycle taxi drivers own their own motorcycles in 18 months or less instead of renting indefinitely. Payments are comparable to what drivers would otherwise pay in rent, and ownership significantly increases income, job security and road safety for drivers.
The Tugende VIP brand of drivers, who have bright pink reflector vests, passenger helmets and other Tugende branding, are part of Tugende’s overall efforts to help responsible boda boda drivers make more money. Along with the visual branding, Tugende VIP drivers have extra training in customer service and sign agreements to follow strict rules about responsible driving and customer care. Tugende VIP also offers an online directory and map, allowing passengers to find approved drivers easily, and says it has trained its drivers to give low prices instead of charging a premium in order to attract repeat business.
“Tugende VIP is a natural extension of our work empowering responsible boda boda drivers,” said Tugende CEO Michael Wilkerson. “We are happy to connect some of our highest performers as Tugende drivers, with passengers looking for a guaranteed high level of professionalism and service.”
“We’ve been working on this for a long time,” he added, and we are pleased to finally launch with a group of drivers, a visual brand, and the training behind it to live up to Tugende’s leadership in responsibility on the road.”
One of the new Tugende VIP drivers, Isma Luutu, 30, drives in Nakasero and said he’s excited about the new opportunity. “It is going to help me increase my value and get more passengers,” he said, adding that he intends to pay off his motorcycle more quickly and build his own home.
Luutu also added that he appreciated the additional training and network of Tugende VIP. “I liked the VIP training so much,” he said, “especially building more friendships with the other VIP members and having a hotline to call with any problems.”
Tugende VIP is launching with 20 drivers in Kampala, but hopes to expand as quickly as possible, while keeping strict standards of quality and responsibility. Tugende also operates in Mbarara and Jinja and is looking to expand its core financing services and VIP across the country over time.
The Tugende VIP launch follows soon after Tugende’s January announcement about closing a new round of $780,000 in investment, including the highly selective Echoing Green award for global social entrepreneurship, and major growth in key areas including revenue, customers and staff.
Tugende’s high level goal is to help high-risk borrowers in East Africa take control of their own income generating assets, even when they can’t access financing from mainstream options–a common problem for Uganda’s motorcycle taxi or “boda boda” operators.
Tugende means “let’s go!” in Luganda, the main local language in Kampala, as well as a number of other East African local languages and is commonly used when boarding “boda boda” motorcycle taxis. The company was originally founded in 2010 as a way to invest in favorite drivers, and started rapid growth in 2012 after Wilkerson returned to Uganda to focus on Tugende full-time.
Fact Sheet: Tugende VIP Drivers…
- Are experienced and carefully selected: Tugende VIP Drivers are carefully screened first to become Tugende lease-to-own clients and then go through another selection and training process to earn their status as a VIP Driver.”
- Offer helmets: All VIP Drivers ride with smart, clean helmets for their valued clients.
- Provide the best customer service: VIP drivers participate in extensive customer service training before joining Tugende and again before joining Tugende VIP.
- Are held accountable: You can give feedback at any time for any reason by calling our friendly Tugende VIP Hotline at 0759 843 633 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Are easy to find: VIP Drivers’ stand out in a crowd with their swag, making them easier for potential passengers to spot.
- Drive mindfully: VIP Drivers own their own motorcycles or are on their way to ownership, so they value keeping you and their bikes in good condition.