Empowering local boda boda drivers through the power of simplicity.

Challenge

Michael Wilkerson and Matt Brown began working in Uganda at the national newspaper, The Independent, and quickly learned that the best way to get around town was by motorcycle taxi, or as the locals say, “boda boda.”

The two men befriended local driver, Medie Sebi, and learned that he, like most of the other boda boda drivers, rented his bike to make his living. After high rent payments and rising fuel costs, Medie was barely making ends meet. With a loan from one of his customers, Medie eventually bought his own boda and used the money he saved by not renting to build a house for his mother.

Inspired by his story, Michael and Matt convinced Medie to start a business. “Own Your Own Boda” (OYOB) was founded with the vision of enabling boda drivers to establish economic freedom. The business model was simple: provide bikes for lease to trustworthy and responsible drivers. If paid on time, boda drivers can own their bike in 19 months or fewer. The marginal profits turned are reinvested to buy more bikes. After 24 months in operation, the men turned 10 bikes from the initial investment into 62 outstanding loans, 19 completed loans and an ever-growing waiting list.

But Michael, Matt and Medie faced new challenges as the business grew. The brand name had to be explained constantly—especially when abbreviated. It also limited the company’s potential. Their core business is micro-financing. What if Tugende wanted to expand to provide loans for other service businesses, too? Tugende was building a strong business and needed a strong brand name to match.

Solution

The key to Michael, Matt and Medie’s brand story was in the tangible impact it has. Ownership gave these men the opportunity to provide for others, to improve their standard of living and to start their own businesses that could bring them out of poverty.

Working with Michael and Matt, we helped build a strategic brand platform that was coherent and focused, and developed a brand voice and messaging strategy that clarified Tugende’s mission.

Our first task was to create a new brand name. Three key factors led the selection process. The name needed to be memorable and expansive, and appealing to both local drivers and potential sources of funding. The combined teams settled on Tugende, which comes from the local dialect of Swahili, and is what a person says when they jump on the back of a boda boda. Tugende provides the perfect metaphor for what this business represents to boda drivers: “Let’s Go!”

We also developed the tagline and logo—T-shaped like a boda boda. The new brand captures the company’s West African heritage and inspires drivers and funders alike around its purpose.

Results

Launched in December 2012, Tugende is on the path to offer over 200+ loans. Tugende founder Michael Wilkerson said:

“Working with Siegel+Gale was an eye-opening experience. Not only did the team help us think through how to connect our brand to the value we want to provide to our clients, they also helped us think about how to make the Tugende brand valuable in and of itself. All of the team members we worked with were experienced and passionate, and I am certain our core mission of creating opportunity through ownership has been improved and accelerated thanks to Siegel+Gale’s generous assistance.”

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