Beyond Sponsorship

MCM has always focused on trying to meet the educational needs of those children who need it most, especially orphans, children abandoned by one or both parents, and children of parents who are impoverished or ill. Yet there have always been more children in our villages in these situations who need assistance in order to attend school, even the least expensive local primary school, than we have sponsors. 

In response to this need, MCM embarked on a new venture designed to bring in enough income to cover local primary school fees for many of these children. It has been our goal for these eleven years to move MCM-Uganda towards self sustainability. We tried farming and animal husbandry with chickens, pigs and cows. Although the farming was successful and all these programs provided much needed jobs for our community, the animal husbandry programs were losing our profits. 

Then the experience of the brother of one of our children gave us the idea: “boda” (motorbike) taxi rental to drivers as a source of income. 

How the MCM Boda Taxi Program Works

Initially we purchased six “bodas” (now grown to eleven). A “Boda-boda” is a motorbike taxi used extensively in East Africa for quick transportation. Their popularity grew in the capital of Uganda, Kampala, when poor road infrastructure resulted in traffic jams lasting hours. The term “boda boda” came from riders soliciting passengers calling out “Border to Border” 30 years ago which shortened to “boda boda” today. 

Bodas are used for any transportation need, from people to goats to furniture – which identifies only a small fraction of their uses. It was estimated that in Kampala in 2015 there were over 80,000 boda drivers. In our tiny farming village of Rutooma there are a few bodas helping to transport crops and farmers to market and other destinations. However in the small town of Kabale, 45 minutes away, one can find upwards of 5-10 bikes on high traffic corners. This is where MCM drivers work from. 

Our eleven donated bikes are rented by boda drivers who apply to our boda manager, Pius. After vetting and selection, these young men pay weekly rental to MCM for the boda. Whatever they earn above the rental fee is theirs to keep. MCM provides basic service to the bikes and the drivers pay for fuel. A single new motorbike costs $1,500. Considering rental fee income and regular servicing costs they pay for themselves in 2 years. An average boda lasts 4-5 years and can be sold used for about $300. 

In September we added a taxi to the program. These used cars cost about $7,000 dollars and earn four times more per month than a boda. They also cost less in servicing as they are more sturdy and last longer than 4 – 5 years. 

Thus far, the decision is paying off very well. It feels like a relief to be good stewards of God’s resources. With this project, we are able to provide employment to drivers and transportation to villagers, as well as start something new: giving a primary school education to about 160 MORE children struggling with poverty.

God willing, MCM will increase our number of vehicles gradually with donors excited to see their gifts helping children into perpetuity! Simultaneously, the skills needed for running a small business — understanding profit, loss and ROI; fleet management and market saturation issues – will be learned by our Ugandan leaders. We have every confidence in our Uganda-MCM Director Ivan’s ability to both learn this small business and hire excellent help in the future as the business grows as Ivan continues to supervise the MCM children. How wonderful it is to follow God without fear, and what a blessed ride!!