More than two decades into his life, Simon Magero is laying a foundation for a better life. When his dream of studying electrical engineering was halted by the absence of school fees, he sought employment to earn a living in 2019.
In his first job as a housekeeper, he provided cleaning services and child care services. When that opportunity ended, he took on more odd jobs in various places including construction and sanitation services. Even though he was working, he lived in perpetual debt. This was due to the inconsistent jobs and the low wages that always came late or never at all.
When someone recommended that he joins Tukole, Magero passed the interview that got him a job as a janitor at Ntinda Complex. Tukole, loosely translated as “let’s work”, is an online platform that connects blue-collar workers to individuals, businesses and organisations in need of their services.
At the touch of a button, a client stuck with a leaky pipe or an urgent haircut gets access to verified, reliable and qualified workers. The platform offers a range of services including hair and beauty, appliance repair and maintenance, domestic installations, plumbing, carpentry, welding, cleaning and laundry, building and civil works.
Tukole ensures that the workers are up to standard through skilling sessions, in-customer care, financial literacy, digital skills and negotiation skills. While the 24-year-old earns a monthly salary worth Shs230,000, he uses the Tukole platform to get jobs that supplement his income.
“I like the fact that even if Tukole is our employer, it doesn’t hinder us from interacting with clients and setting our price,” he says.
So far, the experience has been rewarding and the life of perpetual debt is now of the past. “I am paid on time and having extra job contracts means I can plan for my salary and save some money,” he says.
These savings have opened up for him a future that is full of possibilities. In his home district, he invested Shs200,000 into a piggery and poultry project that he monitors on his days off. From his last visit, Magero reports progress on the farm. He hopes to sell off some in a few months and invest the money into expanding the business.
Within a few months and with multiple sources of income, Magero has dusted off his academic papers. He is currently admitted at the Uganda Institute of Communications and Information Technology in pursuit of a Diploma in Electrical Engineering. This constant and timely flow of income gives Magero the confidence that he will be able to support himself in school. The diploma will offer him skills that will bring him a larger source of income is to start a family.
“Tukole is encouraging us to look towards a future beyond the current. They are going to take us through financial literacy classes, which are going to be helpful especially for me with these various projects,” Magero says.
Recently, Tukole also informed its workers that they will soon have access to low-interest loans with low-interest rates. This will be life-changing for him as well.
“I have always been afraid of going to banks for loans, the bank considers so many things to lend you money and I don’t think someone like me meets those criteria right now. I think it will be a great privilege to have access to credit,” he says.
As the digital revolution transforms the landscape of work, Tukole is ensuring that Ugandan workers in the blue-collar industry can leverage technology to earn more. Over 1300 youths have been skilled under the initiative so far. Slightly more than 230 direct jobs have been created and service providers have access to over 500 weekly work opportunities.
The Operations Lead at Tukole, Phyllis Nassuna says their greatest achievement to date is the ability to keep a network of over 600 registered service providers in work with a consistent supply of jobs through Tukole. This is no small feat, as many workers have taken a hit as industries, schools and corporations have downsized or closed due to the pandemic. Through the Tukole App, these workers remain visible to their market and can stay in business. Magero’s story further proves that when young people secure formal work and a steady wage, their lives improve. These efforts provide hope that it is possible to achieve the ambitious dream that Tukole together with The Mastercard Foundation hold to enable 30 million young people in Africa, especially young women, to secure dignifying and fulfilling employment by 2030.