Story of Impact:

Before Unreasonable

Michael Wilkerson

Michael Wilkerson

2012 Unreasonable Entrepreneur Michael Wilkerson founded Tugende after noticing that most motorcycle taxi (boda boda) drivers in Kampala, Uganda, did not own their own motorcycle. In Kampala alone, there are over 100,000 boda boda drivers, most of whom rent their motorcycle from a landlord with no fixed lease, leading to job insecurity and making it hard to build savings and control their own futures. Tugende helps drivers own their own motorcycles via an affordable payment model, with weekly costs similar to renting, resulting in huge financial and mental gains when ownership is earned after 18 months.

At the time that Michael participated in the Institute, Tugende had already enabled 25 boda boda drivers to own their own motorcycles, but Michael wanted to expand. As he says, “I had a business off the ground, but didn’t really know what I was doing, where to go for help, or what to do next.”

Unreasonable Difference

  • With the help of a mentor team featuring advisors like Aaron Patillo, Chris Yeh, and Vamsi Sistla providing guidance and connections, Michael learned how to rapidly grow his business. As he says, “The Unreasonable Institute pushed Tugende off a slow growth trajectory onto a fast one.”
  • Tugende’s very first outside investment of $10,000 was committed by Unreasonable Angel Aaron Patillo during Investor Days. Aaron went on to become a Tugende Board member and close advisor, and has been instrumental in providing guidance and helping raise additional funds.
  • Two other funder introductions made during the Institute led to immediate funding for Tugende. The Global Catalyst Initiative invested $10,000, and Unreasonable Angel Jimmy Calano invested $20,000.
  • Unreasonable has continued to match Michael with funders after the Institute, including the company’s largest non-institutional investor, Doug Spencer, a business consultant and impact investor. Doug has invested $75,000 and provides ongoing mentorship and support.
  • Since attending the Institute, Tugende has raised over one million dollars in funding. According to Michael, 60% of the initial $300,000 round and 40% of the second $780,000 round were attributable to Unreasonable.
  • Through Unreasonable, Tugende was awarded a fellowship from brand innovation firm Siegel + Gale, which included a $10,000 grant and $100,000 in professional services to dramatize the Tugende story and catalyze the company’s impact.
  • Michael says that the ongoing support of the Unreasonable community has been invaluable. In his own words: “I reach out to Unreasonable entrepreneurs, mentors, and staff all the time. What we do is hard and I’ve faced a lot of tough challenges. Being able to connect with others who have been through similar challenges has been so important. I’m not sure where I would have turned to keep myself going without that community.”

Tugende Today

Since the Institute, Tugende has grown from a team of three to a team of 18, empowered 200 boda boda drivers to own their own motorcycles, and put 700 additional drivers on the path to motorcycle ownership. In 2014 alone, the company achieved a 3x increase in the number of active Tugende motorcycle leases. Renting-to-own through Tugende improves driving safety, provides job security, allows drivers to double their daily pay, and makes it possible to build savings and control their own futures.

Why Unreasonable?

Michael says of his Unreasonable experience: “Tugende literally would not exist in its size, success, or possibly at all, without the Unreasonable Institute and the Unreasonable community.”