Tugende is hiring a Chief Operations Officer!

Date Posted: March 17, 2017
Date Due: Rolling deadline
Location: Kampala, Uganda
Reporting to: CEO

How to apply: Please send your CV and cover letter directly to jobs@tugendedriven.com with ‘COO Application‘ in the Subject line. Be sure to let us know why you want to join Tugende in this capacity and why you think you’re the perfect fit for the job!

Company Overview
Tugende is a for-profit social enterprise financing income-generating assets. Over the past 5 years, we have provided lease-to-own financing of motorcycles to over 5,000 motorcycle taxi drivers (boda bodas) in Uganda.

Our long term goal is to provide financing and services to help self-employed people own income-generating assets across multiple sectors.

With our current primary product, motorcycle leases, our customers take ownership through a lease-to-own payment plan and receive training, insurance, and ongoing support. Ownership significantly increases income, job security, and road safety.
“Tugende” means “Let’s Go!” and both represents our mission of helping people move forward economically and is what you actually say when you climb on the back of a motorcycle in Uganda. Tugende is expanding rapidly and has been recognized as a 2012 Unreasonable Fellow, 2014 Echoing Green Global Fellow, and has appeared in the Guardian, BBC, The Economist, and elsewhere. Learn more about our founding and mission here and here.

Starting with motorcycles, Tugende is proving that millions of self-employed entrepreneurs can receive credit to own the equipment they use to provide for their families, even without credit histories, collateral, and in industries considered high risk by traditional lenders.
We currently serve over 3,000 customers in Kampala, Mbarara, Jinja, and Mbale, Uganda. We plan to expand to at least 10 locations in Uganda over the next year and into countries such as Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania. Beyond geographic growth, our future will include financing multiple income-generating products, expanding value-added services like insurance (which we currently offer), and implementing cutting-edge technology for credit scoring to help us reach millions of customers without losing high touch personal support.

The Position: COO

Tugende has grown rapidly and plans to further accelerate our growth. The board and CEO are looking for a seasoned, strategic, and process-minded leader with experience scaling a for-profit business in emerging economies. The candidate will have experience leading senior managers, managing multiple teams, and developing a performance culture among a group of diverse, talented individuals.

The Chief Operating Officer will be a key part of the small senior management team and will be responsible for

  • executing day-to-day operations,
  • creating and implementing operations strategies,
  • standardizing and scaling systems and processes, and
  • driving business growth.

By using data, building teams, and refining systems, the COO will make key decisions regarding scaling and growth focusing on area selection, product design and delivery, portfolio quality management, and client outreach and communications. The COO will be responsible for the management of the overall quality and efficiency of operations, including ensuring the company delivers outstanding service that is client-focused and efficient at all times.

While it is essential that the COO brings efficient and effective systems to increase the organization’s productivity, it is also critical that the team prioritize its focus in helping people help themselves. We value empathy, integrity, teamwork, being solutions-oriented and always growing (personally and professionally).


Reporting to the CEO, the COO will lead all operations and will have the following responsibilities:

  • Provide a strong day-to-day leadership presence for all staff, linking headquarters, Ugandan, and (future) East African operations. Reinforce leadership culture of open-door policy among all staff.
  • Represent Tugende and the CEO internally and externally as needed. Present publicly about our vision and work, and build and maintain professional networks on behalf of Tugende.
  • Supervise and manage all staff in field operations including the credit and collections teams and back-office operations including administrative support and customer service teams.
  • Supervise Business Analytics and Research and IT departments to ensure Tugende is driven by data and its tools and technical systems are customized and updated for optimal operations.
  • Liaise with CFO/Finance Manager to deliver cost effective results, plan budgets, strategize investments in new people and systems, and keep the company growing on a strong economic base.
  • Continue to build an environment across operations that yields the sharing and implementation of best practices among all team members
  • Act as the main quality controller in client selection, portfolio quality management, product and processes, client protection, area selection, and other aspects of operations.
  • Ensure full compliance with the existing policies of the company, especially the Operations Policies.
  • Oversee credit and risk controls, ensure and enforce Health Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE), HR, and adherence to other risk management policies in operational areas.
  • Support recruitment function for operations team.

Key Qualifications:

As a prerequisite, the successful candidate must believe in the core values of Tugende and the premise that empowering low-income customers with for-profit tools can create tremendous economic change, social impact, and profits.

Beyond that, we are seeking a candidate who has proven experience in scaling a multi-site operation with high-touch customer interactions, a large staff, and a demonstrated ability to run, build, and improve systems and processes that maximize the capabilities of a driven, bright, diverse team.

The ideal candidate will possess a high level of energy and a personal style that engenders absolute loyalty and trust among team members at all levels. The successful candidate will be a mentor and team builder, able to both selectively recruit external talent and develop internal resources in a way that generates momentum while portraying stability.

Above all, the successful candidate will have unquestionable integrity, and will always do what is in the best interest of the Company, its customers, and its shareholders.


  • Willingness to ride fearlessly on the back of motorcycle taxis (with a helmet!);
  • 15+ distinguished years in senior management roles with demonstrated experience delivering results on growth, system building, expansion, and human capital;
  • Significant track record operating with a multi-branch organization in emerging markets comparable to Uganda and ensuring high quality operations across all locations;
  • Comfort in low-income environments and able to empathize with, and gain trust from, the communities with which we work;
  • A thorough understanding of financial institution performance metrics/indicators and the ability to interpret and process operations data including lease portfolio performance;
  • Results—proven track record of exceeding goals and a bottom-line orientation; evidence of consistently making good decisions through a combination of analysis, wisdom, experience, and judgment; high level of business acumen, including successful P&L management and the ability to balance the delivery of programs against the realities of a budget; problem solving, project management, and creative resourcefulness. Strong negotiation skills;
  • Strategic Vision and Agility—ability to think strategically, anticipate future consequences and trends, and incorporate them into the organizational plan;
  • Capacity Building—ability to effectively build organization and staff capacity, developing a topnotch workforce and the processes that ensure the organization runs smoothly. Track record of mentoring direct subordinates and increasing their responsibilities;
  • Leadership and Organization—exceptional capacity for managing and leading people; a team builder who has experience in leading a large staff, scaling-up organizations; ability to connect staff both on an individual level and in large groups; capacity to enforce accountability, cultivate entrepreneurship, and learn the strengths and weaknesses of the team so as to put people in a position to succeed;
  • Action Oriented—enjoys working hard and looks for challenges; able to act and react as necessary, even if limited information is available; not afraid to take charge of a situation; can overcome resistance to leadership and take unpopular stands when necessary;
  • General Management—thorough understanding of finance, systems, and HR; broad experience with the full range of business functions and systems, including strategic development and planning, budgeting, business analysis, finance, information systems, human resources, and marketing;
  • Solid educational background—undergraduate degree required; MBA or similar advanced degree highly desired.


  • Familiarity with Uganda/East Africa;
  • Experience working in similar lease-to-own models, lease finance, or asset financing.

Bonus points:

  • Fluency in Luganda or conversational familiarity with any major local language of East Africa.

Compensation and Benefits

Compensation: We’re looking for an exceptional candidate and we are willing to pay competitively to ensure we get a person who will help us take Tugende to the next level. Medical benefits, leave, and salary will all be extremely competitive. Performance-based compensation including employee share options are also a possibility depending on preference of the successful candidate.

Meaningful Work: Tugende’s work gives entrepreneurs the tools to earn a living for themselves and their families. We are changing the face of the boda industry in Uganda, and proving that young men with little education can take on the responsibility of financing a significant asset and earning a liveable wage. Help be part of this movement!

Skill Development: Tugende invests in internal training and staff development and also supports staff financially and with flexibility to pursue additional training. The COO will be eligible to seek further training and development, and if desired, to lead skill and mentorship sessions with junior staff.

Great Team: Tugende has a smart, fun, and growing team of 88 staff and growing. We take our work seriously, but love to joke and have fun. We regularly have expenses-paid, voluntary team outings, social and networking events, and annual appreciation parties for our clients. Our headquarters are in Kampala, and we also have offices in Eastern and Western Uganda.