"Helping People Help Themselves"
Tugende finances income-generating assets for proven entrepreneurs. We invest in giving a chance to customers generally unable to access tradtional credit providers, including most microfinance institutions—often due to a lack of existing collateral.
Our primary product is a lease to own motorcycle financing package which includes training, life and health insurance, and active support. Successful customers own the bike within 19 months or less. Ownership allows drivers to save money they would normally spend renting, and provides accumulated savings in the value of a paid-off motorcycle. Our thousands of alumni customers (owners) have invested in new businesses, buying land and building houses, better healthcare and education for their children, and moving themselves and their families up the economic ladder.
In the long term, we envision leasing other productive assets to trustworthy entrepreneurs, and to expand our support services, like the insurance we provide today, for people determined to become financially independent.
Tugende means “let’s go,” and our story is about always moving forward. Starting in 2006, now CEO Michael Wilkerson hired hundreds of boda bodas to help him chase stories across Kampala and generally avoid being stuck in traffic. .
Tugende was first inspired by Michael’s friendship with a young, hardworking boda driver, Medie, who was able to get an informal loan and own his own motorcycle. After ownership, Medie used his extra income to build a house for his mother, allowing her to stop renting as well.
Most boda drivers were stuck renting forever—considered too risky for formal credit--and had little job stability as informal landlords could withdraw the motorcycle at any time. Knowing Medie’s story in 2009, we started financing motorcycles to trustworthy drivers and registered a company called Own Your Own Boda. In 2013, the organization changed its name to Tugende, which means "Let's Go" in Luganda and many other regional languages. Tugende matches our mission of helping people move themselves forward, our attitude, and our progress, with over 7,000 clients and tens of thousands of their family members better off thanks to our path to ownership.
Our Core Values
We literally built Tugende from the ground up around understanding our customers and what they need and want. We focus on respect, dignity, and being approachable, especially when there are challenges.
We have the courage to identify and act on problems, proactively creating and seizing opportunities. We think critically about long term solutions and support each other and customers to positive outcomes.
We encourage each other to take risks, to try things we've never done, to learn from successes and setbacks, and to always adopt an open mind to learning as an organization, as professionals and as people.
Trust with our clients, colleagues, colleagues and partners is the back bone of what we do.
Work as a Team
We start with humility, dependability and support. We believe the collective production of our team is greater than the sum of its parts, and we support one another daily.
See what others are saying about us!
February 16, 2016
Despite being ranked the world’s most entrepreneurial country, few Ugandan businesses hit the big time. How can they leap from surviving to thriving?
September 28, 2015
"Tugende was always a for-profit business because we were working with business people at the very bottom of the pyramid who didn’t want or need a handout." - Michael Wilkerson, Tugende CEO
September 16, 2015
"Dubbed Maisha Boda Insurance, the micro insurance product launched by Tugende, a for-profit social enterprise in partnership with Lion Assurance and Liberty Life, seeks to enable boda boda cyclists access life insurance services at a low cost."
July 1, 2015
March 27, 2015
From Kampala, the BBC's Roderick Macleod meets the Ugandan entrepreneurs working on interesting and safer ways to ferry passengers around.
March 17, 2015
On a Wednesday morning just off Bukoto-Kisaasi road, hundreds of boda boda riders jam into a room to get lessons on road safety and financial management [at Tugende.]
How We Made It In Africa
March 12, 2015
“Our best protection against challenges is making sure that it’s a good deal for the driver.” - Michael Wilkerson, Tugende CEO
February 6, 2015
"Enter American entrepreneur Michael Wilkerson, who created a sustainable enterprise with his local business Tugende, which puts more money in the hands of those who need it most."
Venture Capital for Africa
January 30, 2015
“Tugende is doing vitally important work with a tested, and proven, business model. But most importantly, Michael, like all the best entrepreneurs, is all-in.” - Rich Leimsider, Vice President of Echoing Green