June 2017

All posts from June 2017

Fontes Career Day

by fontes on 23/06/2017 No comments

In the framework of our current process to strengthen the support for our students at Potentiam Youth Development Centre after graduation, we organized the first ever Career Day at Fontes Foundation.  The main objective was to bridge the existing gap between Kampala’s youth and thriving employers. We sought to increase our students’ professional opportunities by giving them insights into different career paths, allowing some to present their business plans in front of an audience of entrepreneurs, and most importantly provide a platform for them to network with different employers, mentors and former PYC students.

One day prior to the event, we held a capacity building on networking at our Youth Centre for students who had signed up for the Career Day. The session focused on three main aspects of networking, namely preparation, connecting and follow-ups. Regarding the first point, we emphasized the importance of sound preparation for such an event. We introduced the different company profiles and talked about possible career chances in the given sectors. Furthermore, we had the students compile a diagram of their strengths and weaknesses, and interests. The aim of this exercise was to nudge the students’ reflection upon their merits and interests, and how they could best combine them to bring value to a company and build their careers. To learn how to best connect with a possible employer during the Career Day, we primarily discussed verbal and non-verbal communication. The students then came up with elevator pitches and presented them in small role plays in front of the crowd to practice networking with the Human Resource Managers. At last, we only briefly outlined how to follow up with leads.

Job Placement Coordinator Gary Agaba elaborating on networking

The Career Day was on Friday, 2nd of June. We were happy to count more than a hundred participants.  Next to the representatives of sixteen employers from various sectors, many of our current and former students, our Football- and Drama team, as well as students from other youth groups of Kampala joined. Being well prepared for the event, the youth eagerly engaged in conversations with the employers.

Next to the employer fair, a core element of the career day consisted in a workshop session. Robert Asiimwe from People Performance Group started with an introductory speech on CV writing and how to present oneself in a job interview. Peter Kisadha from Jumia Jobs then took over and elaborated on online job portals and how to advert and look for job opportunities online. The last part of the workshops was by the team of DFCU bank. In relation to our entrepreneurial programme, they focused their speech on micro savings and financial management.

After a second round of networking, the event ended with the presentations of our business plan competition winners. Joanita and Barbara explained how they had successfully launched a small groundnut selling business. Starting with very restricted funds of 9’700 UGX (2.7 USD), they managed to earn 54’000 UGX (15 USD) in their first month. Thereafter, Moses introduced his business plan for a mobile quality fruit business, as he calls it. We are happy to look back on a successful event with plenty of new friends of Fontes Foundation.

Business Plan Competition Winner Moses Sebbi introducing his project

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fontesFontes Career Day

Formalizing Efforts in Order to Seize Employment Opportunities

by fontes on 23/06/2017 No comments

Ever since the start of Potentiam Youth Development Centre (PYC), we focused not only on providing the students with marketable skills and personal development, but also relied on thorough follow-ups combined with mentorship, to make sure our graduates find their way after graduation. The encompassing support at times even included connecting our students with employers to ensure a smooth transition to their professional lives.

Gloria Twebaza at Savannah Resort Hotel

One student we were able to help get employment was Gloria Twebaze, a very charismatic young woman, who grew up in a small town in Western Uganda. She has been a member of Fontes’ scholarship programme since 2011. Being the 6th child of a family working in fishing and farming, Gloria was enabled to complete her high school supported by one of our donors. Her outstanding grades and discipline allowed Gloria to be admitted to YMCA in Kampala to get a certificate in Computer Science at in 2014 to end of 2015. Thereafter, Gloria completed the core course at Potentiam Youth Development Centre, whereupon she was employed as a receptionist at Savannah Resort Hotel in Kanungu district. Gloria is doing an excellent job. Not only has she been nominated employee of the month, she has also recently won a CV competition, outperforming several coworkers with a university degree. We are proud of how far Gloria has come, especially since she showcases the successful combination of our Scholarship Programme in Western Uganda with our Youth Development Programme in Kampala.

Stories like Gloria’s made us realize the high potential in connecting students to employers, bridging an apparent gap on the job market and strengthening our efforts to tackle the extraordinarily high youth unemployment rate of Uganda. We therefore came up with a more formalized approach and rolled out the Job Placement Programme in the beginning of this year.

Following a pilot round of the Job Placement Programme in this spring, we are delighted to start the first official round this June at the end of the current core course. Our preliminary target had been to place 50% of our current students at partnering companies. However, due to the rapid formation of new partnerships together with the success of old placements, it looks like we will be overshooting this target.

PYC alumni Jimmy Galabuzi was very eager to participate when he heard about the roll-out of our Job Placement Programme. We were able to connect him with at Coffee at Last this spring for an internship of three months. The position suits him well. He can not only make use of his previously attained catering certificate, but also of his computer and business skills, helping out at stock management.

Our Job Placement Coordinator, Gary Agaba, is constantly checking on both the employer and the employee to make sure everyone is satisfied. And indeed, Jimmy’s supervisor was so pleased with his work that his chances of getting employed by the end of the internship are really high. Furthermore, Coffe at Last is willing to continuously partner with Fontes Foundation and even take on another student from the core course ending this June. We are delighted to start building partnerships like these in order to help our students launch their professional careers.

Mahad Fahad was one of the first interns placed through our Job Placement Programme. He was recently promoted to Senior Driver at Premier Security System Ltd.

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fontesFormalizing Efforts in Order to Seize Employment Opportunities

Community Involvement is crucial to the Sustainability of the Water Projects

by fontes on 23/06/2017 No comments

Fontes Foundation is specialized in community development through the implementation of safe water systems and education projects. We pride ourselves in our long-term approach and focus on sustainability. In effect, in twelve years of being active in supplying water to disadvantaged communities as an entry point to escape poverty, we were able to attain a retention rate of a 100% of our portfolio projects. One of the main pillars of our long-term approach is Community Involvement. This article briefly touches on benefits and costs of this form of organizing our projects and discusses ways to smooth the processes.

There are many benefits that come with the involvement of the respective communities and the employing of local resources. Most of them are related to the creation of ownership. By closely involving the communities in the planning, implementing and running of our projects, we aim to establish a sense of ownership and thereby increase of responsibility within the community.  However, deep community involvement also bears the potential of challenges. Some challenges are found in the implementation of sound management processes.

Most failures in management result from three major reasons; first, the attitude of the community towards money collection. It is a common belief in some communities that it is legitimate for the volunteering water committee to use some of the money collected from water sales to cover their basic needs, instead of improving and maintaining the water system. This misunderstanding can lead to mismanagement of funds by the water community, which comes with terrible consequences in case of defects in the water systems.

Secondly, due to a low democratic capacity, it is possible that the community elects people for short-term personal gains instead of by reason of capability.  In unfortunate cases, this can result in locally elected representatives with little inspiration or interest of developing the water project, in the worst case even to an embezzlement of funds. Lastly, the high illiteracy level among people in rural Uganda is a prevalent challenge. Literacy constitutes the minimum criteria for some of the positions within the water committee, such as chairman, treasurer and secretary, in order to being able to conduct their tasks. These criteria unfortunately exclude a part of the population from being eligible to the mentioned positions.

Workshop on financial management

Over the years, we developed different tools to tackle the mentioned challenges. Regarding the financial management issues, we have been increasingly focused on educating the water committees in cash management and basic accounting. For this to be successful, it is important to keep the tools simple and to move step by step as well as to let the committees try and fail.

To foster the democratic capacity of the communities, we educate communities about the importance of electing strong and responsible water committees. Through workshops and capacity buildings that are organized at least once every year, Fontes teaches roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder in the community, aiming at improving the understanding of the entire system. We constantly remind the members of the community that the project belongs to the community and not Fontes Foundation. The community should therefore take responsibility for inventory of the systems, and supervise the water committee, which is directly accountable to them.

To solve the illiteracy issue, Fontes has started a scholarship program where a child is selected from the villages basing on performance, discipline and the financial status of the guardian or parent. The program covers four years of high school and two years of vocational training. This has been very fruitful, two former students, Cleophas and Pascal supervise the water projects on behalf of Fontes Foundation.

In addition to these formalized efforts, we need to stay open-minded to learn and flexible to find individual solutions, adapted to specific occasions. This was apparent in a recent case, when a respected treasurer turned blind. Since the community insisted on keeping the experienced treasurer, we agreed on appointing an assistant to help him, who takes over the reading and writing. In this way we managed to ensure the completion of the task without interfering with the decision of the local community.

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fontesCommunity Involvement is crucial to the Sustainability of the Water Projects

Graduation Festivities at Fontes Foundation

by fontes on 23/06/2017 No comments

On Friday, June 16th, it was time to get together and celebrate the graduation of our Potentiam Youth Development Centre students. Next to current core- and short course students, we were delighted to welcome many PYC Alumni and two guests of honour at the event. Our Graduation festivities were exciting and refreshingly diverse, including inspiring speeches, cultural dances and even a fire-spitting performance.

Solomon King sharing his story

The most insightful part of the event were the final speeches by our guests of honour. We were fortunate enough to host two fascinating personalities, sharing their personal life paths and giving valuable advice. Solomon King, who is a self-taught founder of a robotic start-up,focused on the importance of failure in life. His story has been shaped by obstacles and he had to face many setbacks on the way. However, he says he had not been able to become the person he is today without the struggles he had to overcome. He emphasized the opportunities there are for the graduates, having learned to acquire knowledge auto-didactically. As has learned about robotics and is successful in this field, so could the students learn more about any subject and succeed.

Our second guest of honour was Mbabazi Victoria. Her story showcases how one can be successful by following their passion. She had gone out of her field of software engineering, to pursue her true passion, which is food. Today, she is the owner of a thriving restaurant, Kahwa2Go, next to her work as software engineer. The graduates were deeply impressed and inspired. We hope for them to do as Solomon and Victoria, stay eager to learn and courageous in following their purpose.

The grand finale was given by our core-course graduate Olembe Richard, Lil Rich. His song “Namuwongo”, in which he talked about the challenges of living in the slums of Namuwongo after escaping the unrest in Northern Uganda as a child, was very moving. We are proud to see what Richard and his classmates have achieved on an academic, professional and personal level in the last six months and are happy to let them go find their way in this world.

Fontes Music Dance and Drama Team at work

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fontesGraduation Festivities at Fontes Foundation

Introducing our Newest Colleague Serge Iradukunda

by fontes on 23/06/2017 No comments

To develop young leaders and increase capacity in various organisations, Fredskorpset (FK), the Norwegian Peace Corps, conducts a South-South youth exchange programme. Fontes Foundation has been taking part in this project for a number of rounds now, exchanging employees with our Rwandan partner organisation for periods of six months. This term, we are happy to have Serge Iradukunda as a member of our team, who is supporting us as Programme Administrator and Accounting Assistant. Here are his thoughts on the exchange.


It all starts somewhere. You pack your bags, you say goodbye, you forget at least three things that are important and you get on a plane! To fly away from what you have known as your home and your whole life.

This Exchange is an experience never to be forgotten. It is shaping part of my character, knowledge, skills and experience and changing my view on life. I am having the best times of my life here in Uganda and at Fontes Foundation Uganda especially.”

My experience so far can be summed up in three main aspects:

  • Career goal: The exchange is helping me decide on my future, who and what I want to be. Through taking every opportunity, embracing the culture, making new lifelong connections and improving my language skills. Additionally, I get the chance to gather valuable professional experience that will be of great use for my professional future.
  • Personal growth: This exchange programme is giving me greater awareness of my identity. I am now always thinking about things from a broader point of view. My world has been expanded through intercultural interactions and communication, as well as a new working environment. This helps me grow as a person.
  • Gaining new lifelong friendships: The exchange allows me to form new friendships with my fellow FK participants, my fellow workers at Fontes Foundation Uganda and people in the community I live in.

We are happy to see how well Serge is settling in Kampala.  Beyond that, we are delighted to watch him grow as a person during the exchange, at the same time as we are benefiting as an organization from his perspective.


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fontesIntroducing our Newest Colleague Serge Iradukunda