May 2015

All posts from May 2015

From Teen Mothers to Business Owners

by Apiyo Oweka-Laboke on 14/05/2015 No comments

Fontes Foundation seeks partners to support single mothers with low-interest loans for their start-up businesses.

(Caption above: Facilitator Mme. Mirembe, from Makula salon in Mulago, guides a student in the process of making a Swahili plait on her model.)

Uganda is the country with the highest teenage pregnancy rate in sub-Saharan Africa, according to The German Foundation for World Population (DSW). Naturally, these teen mothers constitute the bulk of the drop-out rate in schools and are therefore the target group for the Single Mothers Programme (SMP) at Potentiam Youth Development Centre. The programme was designed to support teen mothers and help them obtain basic training and marketable skills they later can use to set up small businesses and support their families.

The Centre has facilitated over six workshops since August 2014 and supports over 40 women each month. In addition to the training, childcare services are provided so that the women can remain uninterrupted by their children during sessions. We are approaching Phase II of the programme, which involves supporting the women to set up micro businesses.

We are currently seeking partners willing to provide start-up financing for the women in the form of low-interest loans. The businesses require a low start-up income between 150 and 1500 USD and the interest rate should be between 8-10%, to ensure that the project is sustainable.

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Apiyo Oweka-LabokeFrom Teen Mothers to Business Owners

Visions of a Better Future

by Kristin Fjalestad on 14/05/2015 No comments

In December 2014, Laboremus software company paid the students at Potentiam Youth Development Centre a visit to enhance their ICT knowledge and to inspire them to look above and beyond.

(Caption above: Laboremus’ Jesca Nakayondo holds an inspiring presentation to the students. Jesca graduated from the Youth Centre herself in May 2013.)

Laboremus is a Norwegian software company with a close relationship to Fontes Foundation. It would have been hard for the company to establish in Uganda without Fontes’ local expertise, and currently several members of the Koestler family work for Laboremus. In return, Laboremus supports Fontes in several ways as a part of their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) strategy. They share office space in Kampala, and last autumn Laboremus developed Fontes’ new web page.

In December 2014, Laboremus Uganda facilitated an ICT career event at Potentiam Youth Centre. Laboremus staff talked about their jobs and why software development inspires them. After the presentations the students participated in group activities where they worked towards understanding the most important elements of a web page.

One of the highlights of the day was the presentation by Jesca Nakayondo, Administrative Assistant at Laboremus. Jesca graduated from the Youth Centre (the Core Course in Applied Business Skills) in May 2013, and has shown great skills working for Laboremus ever since. “It was nice going back and speaking to the youth, telling them that they can make a difference in their lives if they are determined and focused to make a better future. All they have to do is to maintain a positive mindset in whatever they do: positive thinking is the starting capital”, Jesca shares.

At the end of the event, some of the students presented what they had learned throughout the day. Among others, Mariam Nafula (18) talked about the importance of having key information easily accessible on a web page, while Farouk Ntambi (24) discussed the potential challenges of allowing users to leave comments about your products.

The event reflected the professional relationship, as well as the friendship, between Laboremus and Fontes Foundation. Thanks to everyone who contributed to and participated at the event!

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Kristin FjalestadVisions of a Better Future

Fontes Foundation and the New Era of Development Goals

by Michael Pletscher on 14/05/2015 No comments

During 2015, the Millennium Development Goals meet their deadline. Fontes Foundation Uganda’s Regional Coordinator seizes the opportunity to evaluate Fontes’ contribution within the framework of global development goals.

(Caption above: Inhabitants of Katunguru-Kasese, Uganda filling up their jerry cans with safe drinking water. The inhabitants have to pay a small fee for the water, which will go to the local water committee for managing the water system. Fontes believes that when the beneficiaries have a sense of ownership of the water system, the project will be sustainable in the long run.)

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), defined by the United Nations in year 2000, were an ambitious attempt to reduce poverty in the world. Now, fifteen years later, the MDG-deadline is approaching and while some MDGs have already been met, others have been missed by miles. As the international community has to decide on new development goals for the next 15 years, it is time to evaluate how Fontes Foundation has contributed towards the MDGs and how Fontes’ approach can be implemented within the soon to be defined Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Fontes Foundation is making a small but reasonable contribution towards several Millennium Development Goals through its water, education and youth projects. What characterizes the Fontes approach is the long-term commitment the organization has towards its projects. For example, instead of establishing as many new safe drinking water projects as possible in order to reach the MDGs, Fontes Foundation is focusing on a limited number of water projects and the provision of technical and managerial training and continuous follow-ups to increase the feeling of ownership among the local population. Studies made by the Rural Water Supply Network and WaterScan Consulting have shown that the average life span of a drinking water project in Africa is 2-3 years due to the lack of locally available resources and technical and managerial knowledge of the beneficiaries. Given the fact that Fontes Foundation’s water projects have been running successfully since 2004, we feel confident that our approach is a successful way to reach sustainable development, meaning to one day achieve the total independence of the water projects from the organization. The current Millennium Development Goals seem to give wrong incentives for development organizations: Instead of a long-term commitment in a limited amount of projects, the focus lies on the installation of new safe water projects on a large scale combined with a short-term exit strategy for the development organization. This leads to an increased safe water coverage in the short run, but will have a very limited – if any at all – effect on the access to drinking water in the middle and long run.

Fontes Foundation’s long-term approach is not only reserved for the organization’s water projects. At Potentiam Youth Development Centre, vulnerable youth is trained in ICT, Business Skills, English and Personal Development. Even though the original idea was to establish a vocational skills training centre, an extensive assessment study including the community, the youth, as well as employers from the neighbouring areas, revealed that it would make more sense to provide the youth with the skills necessary to run their own business or simply being a good and reliable employee. Hence, the programme was adapted accordingly.

Fontes follows up every student with a two-year mentorship programme, which continues long after they have completed the Core Course. This follow-up is essential in order to make sure that the youth actually finds employment or successfully starts up a business. Again, Fontes Foundation’s long-term commitment is evident.

As with the MDGs, we at Fontes Foundation are convinced that we can play a small but impactful role in the successful implementation of the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals by sticking to our long-term approach. “Help to Self- Help” is the buzzword, including capacity building, constant follow-up and establishing a sense of ownership among the beneficiaries of our projects. The final goal is not to give Fontes Foundation a “raison d’eÌ‚tre”, but to empower the communities supported in a way that they one day can operate the projects independent of the organization. Only like this can a development project be considered truly sustainable. Even though there already is a lot of criticism towards the SDGs, as they seem to be even more ambitious and much broader than the MDGs, we will have to wait until September 2015 to see if those goals are formulated in a way where development really can be considered sustainable.

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Michael PletscherFontes Foundation and the New Era of Development Goals

The Weapon of Education

by Agnes Kampire on 14/05/2015 No comments

Several students will graduate from their vocational training this year with the help from Fontes Foundation’s Scholarship Programme. One student shares his experience and hopes for the future.

(Caption above: Students of the Scholarship Programme when they were all still in secondary school. From top left is Abdul Karim, Vincent, Isaac, Nicholas, Justus, Cleophas, Justine, Gloria, Zarika and Sharon.)

Nelson Mandela once said that ”Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” This quote accurately illustrates Fontes Foundation’s motivation behind its Scholarship Programme. When Fontes Foundation installed its first safe water project in Katunguru-Rubirizi, Uganda, in 2004, the organization realized that the children in the area were not attending school. The majority of the parents were too poor to afford their children’s education – others would stop sending their children to school, as there were no prospects of continuing their studies. Therefore, Fontes started a scholarship program to help the ones who are not able to pay for the education themselves.

The programme is meant to support four years of secondary school (O-level) and two years of vocational training, which provides skills that are needed in the otherwise tough Ugandan job market.

This year, Fontes has started to integrate the scholarship students into Potentiam Youth Centre, where the goal is to improve their personal skills and to help them gain confidence. One Scholarship Programme student, Abdul Karim, is currently attending the Core Course in Applied Business Skills. Abdul Karim has completed his O-level and will continue his vocational training at Young Men Christian Association (YMCA) Comprehensive Institute in Kampala after he has graduated from the Youth Centre.

Fontes currently supports 18 students through the Scholarship Programme. Five students are doing their vocational training at YMCA. Vincent, Gloria and Justine will graduate this August and Justus and Cleophas want to write an additional engineering exam. Zarika will also graduate this year, with a Certificate in Nursing. We wish all the students good luck!

My Story – by Vincent Tibetumira

Living a hopeless life is a painful experience. I was born and raised in Kisenyi fishing village in western Uganda. In this village, fishing is the only reasonable source of income. Otherwise, people spend their time drinking. Parents have no money to take their children to school and the majority of parents do not understand the importance of education.

Vincent in Katunguru-Rubirizi, western Uganda with his new laptop.

Vincent in Katunguru-Rubirizi, western Uganda with his new laptop.

I have been raised from a family without love, care and little knowledge about the importance of education. My father left my mother when I was very young and ever since, my mother has worked so hard to maintain the needs of my siblings and I. She has taken good care of me.

When I finished Primary School, my mother could not afford a good secondary school. I lost hope of ever going back to school, but fortunately Fontes Foundation decided to grant me a scholarship because of my great performance at primary level. Through Fontes, my donors have supplied all my needs. I have never lacked anything. Last week I received a laptop that I am going to use in my business and I am so excited. Thank you so much Fontes! I would never have made it here without your help.

I completed my O-levels and joined YMCA in Kampala a year ago. Now, I am looking forward to complete my Certificate in Electrical Installation this year. If I manage to get enough startup capital, I plan on starting my own business and to be my own boss.

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Agnes KampireThe Weapon of Education

Celebrating Ten Years of Safe Water

by Agnes Kampire on 14/05/2015 No comments

The 10-year anniversary of Fontes Foundation’s first safe water system was celebrated with the implementation of a new settlement tank and solar panel in Kazinga village, southwestern Uganda.

(Caption above: The local communities in Katunguru Sub-County, Uganda are showing their gratitude to Fontes Foundation founder Dr. Andreas Koestler at the 10-year anniversary function.)

In 2004, Fontes Foundation installed its first safe water system in the village Katunguru-Rubirizi in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park. The 10-year anniversary of this initial installation was celebrated with a function in Kazinga village 30th of January 2015 and was attended by local water committees, political leaders, donors, the local community and representatives from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). Andreas Koestler, one of the founders and the current Director of Fontes Foundation, proudly announced that the organisation’s first water system is still working and has supplied safe water for Katunguru for over ten years.

The highlight of the celebrations, however, was the implementation of a new solar panel and settlement tank in Kazinga village. The photo-voltaic solar panels needed to run the water system now only cost about a quarter of what they did when the system initially was installed in 2007. This tremendous price reduction made replacing the petrol generator with solar panels a viable option. It is also more environmental friendly. The installations of the solar panels and the new settlement tank, which were assisted by Engineers Without Borders Norway, were made possible through generous donations from Laboremus Oslo AS and Balder Foundation, both in Norway. We are grateful for these organizations’ continuous support. Fuel used to be one of the largest operating expenses for the water project in Kazinga. Now the project will have more money for maintenance of the system, which again will make the project more sustainable.

Fontes Foundation’s first safe water project in Katunguru-Rubirizi, Uganda was implemented due to dire demand for safe drinking water in the fishing villages inside Queen Elizabeth National Park. People were suffering from waterborne diseases caused by drinking the contaminated water. In addition, fetching water in the lake was dangerous due to the presence of wild animals. Upon request from the UWA and the local community, a small surface water treatment plant was installed in Katunguru-Rubirizi in Februay 2004.

The building of the foundation for the new settlement tank in Kazinga, Uganda. The new settlement tank will ensure continued access to safe water in the village.

The building of the foundation for the new settlement tank in Kazinga, Uganda. The new settlement tank will ensure continued access to safe water in the village.

Now, more than ten years later, the effect from providing safe water has proved to be much greater than only reducing diseases. When the project in Katunguru-Rubirizi was first installed, the village only had a couple of hundred inhabitants. In recent years, however, the population has grown tremendously and the village is now host for a number of new institutions and projects. These include a small hospital, a secondary school and, not the least, the national park headquarters. People say all of this happened because the inhabitants in Katunguru now have access to safe drinking water.

The results from these projects show that Fontes Foundation’s long-term take on sustainable development cooperation – including community involvement, ownership and training, as well as continuous follow-up and advising – is working. Fontes Foundation is not running the projects alone; the local communities have been trained to manage their own water systems, which in each village is run by a democratically elected water committee. The ideal is that each community acquires a feeling of ownership over the safe water system and understands that the project belongs to the community and not to the organization. This is important, so that when the community has learned to appreciate the value of clean and safe water, they will have the responsibility, the skills and the capacity to keep the safe water system running without the involvement of external actors.

The trench for the cable running from the solar panels to the pumps was built by the community in Kazinga, Uganda, as their contribution towards the new installations. Every villager had to contribute with a certain length of trench and the community leaders kept a log to ensure that everyone did their part.

The trench for the cable running from the solar panels to the pumps was built by the community in Kazinga, Uganda, as their contribution towards the new installations. Every villager had to contribute with a certain length of trench and the community leaders kept a log to ensure that everyone did their part.



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Agnes KampireCelebrating Ten Years of Safe Water

Session in Personal Branding at Potentiam Youth Centre

by Michael Pletscher on 13/05/2015 No comments

Once every semester, Mr. Larry Holm from People Performance Group pays the Core Course students at Potentiam Youth Development Centre a visit to hold an inspiring session on Personal Branding.

This May, the session focused on how personal goals and definitions of success vary between different people. Mr. Holm encouraged the students to think about what success means to each one of them as individuals. Once they have established this, each student is one step closer to realising their own personal brand.

To visualise his point, Mr. Holm shared his own experience from when he left Denmark for Uganda and started his own business here. For him, having a personal brand helped him in the start up phase of his business, because it made the business stand out. Ultimately, the personal brand has assisted him in achieving his goals – both personally and professionally.


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Michael PletscherSession in Personal Branding at Potentiam Youth Centre