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Solving access to finance in a sustainable manner: why we back Tugende
March 31, 2021
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2020 was an unprecedented year for most businesses due to the novel Covid-19 pandemic none of us saw coming. However, one thing we knew was that it would bring out the best of management teams. One such team is the Tugende team. Their resilience was truly tested in 2020 due to confinement measures related to Covid-19 but they took the time to build an even better business and have emerged stronger.
Tugende is a tech-enabled asset finance company in East Africa, with operations in Uganda and Kenya. Based in Kampala, Uganda and launched in 2012, the company uses asset finance, technology, and a high touch customer support model to help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) own income-generating assets. We are very proud to be supporting Michael’s vision, Tugende’s Founder and CEO.
Motorcycle taxis have grown as a cheap, flexible and alternative means of transport in African cities with an estimated value in rides of +$10B in the major cities. In East Africa, that estimate is +$1.6B in the major cities of Nairobi, Kampala and Dar es Salaam. Furthermore, there are ~1.5M full-time motorcycle taxi drivers in East Africa, with 400,000 in Uganda alone. Approximately 70% of these individuals rent their bikes as there is a lack of access to formal financing.
In Tugende, we are backing a company solving a fundamental African problem – that is, access to finance – in a sustainable manner. What we see is a non-predatory "win win" approach to lending to high-risk clients. The product is well-designed and is aligned to the cashflows of their customers. The system of co-guaranteeing each other (that has long existed in formal and informal credit on the continent) is utilized and creates a social responsibility that we think is the reason for the lowest NPL rates we have seen in the fintech space. With operations expanding outside the home market of Uganda and into Kenya, we also see a clear Pan-African opportunity that is replicable and scalable.
Additionally, while solving this problem, new entrepreneurs are being born and immediately presented with an opportunity to asset ownership, thus creating wealth. One of the most inspiring stories we encountered was that of a female boda-boda rider who was on her 6th lease with Tugende. After paying off her 1st lease, she took on a second lease and started managing a small fleet of 2 motorcycles, hiring someone to drive the second one. She utilized the Tugende facility not only to become an employer herself but to also grow a fleet.
Tugende’s next growth phase will include further digitization of their operations to enable the company to scale to meet the already high demand. Partech is a technology first investor, and we are ready to share knowledge and support the company as it seeks to get more from its tech and data. We will support Michael and his team in their quest to build up the tech platform, fine tune the model and expand in new markets.
At Partech, we understand that it takes more than just capital to have a successful investment. That is why we actively engage with our Founders to find their most painful issues and try and ease that pain. We support our founders not only in building great technology but also in sourcing and hiring exceptional talent through our talent pool initiative. We also give them access to our vast network of corporate relationships for them to explore synergies be it commercial relationships, potential co-investments in future rounds or exit opportunities.
Welcome to the Partech Family Tugende!
The Partech Africa Team.