All posts from 2017

Developing your Personal Brand

by Rebecca Grattage on 15/09/2017 No comments

On Wednesday 6th September, the Fontes Youth Centre welcomed Larry Holm, CEO of People Performance Group Uganda, one of the leading HR consulting companies in Uganda, to talk to the Core Course students about personal branding.

Larry got the conversation started by asking the students how much they buy “Irish” (potatoes) for. This animated the discussion and helped everyone to consider pricing, and what distinguishes one seller from another. The students discussed using lower prices to try and attract more customers, as most sellers compete on a price basis.

Larry worked with the students throughout the session to open their minds to new ideas, suggesting adding value to a product instead of lowering the price – explaining that by adding value to and branding a product you can charge a lot more money for it. Larry spoke a lot about developing one’s personal brand and being unique in order to attract customers. He described Personal Branding as something that differentiates you from others.

Core Course students listening to Larry Holm’s talk.

Many of the students at the Fontes Youth Centre aspire to start up their own businesses after completing the course, so Larry asked the students what sort of businesses they are planning on starting; their ideas varied from restaurants and eateries, producing boiled food, opening a beauty salon, creating an electronics company, and many more.

Larry spoke about the danger of worry and how it can drain you. He explained that you need energy to push yourself, so it is important to get rid of your worries. The students described their worries, including financial, sickness and employment issues. Larry suggested prioritising key worries, and then deciding when you would like to have dealt with this particular worry by. He spoke enthusiastically, helping the students realise that the more worries that they manage to eradicate, the more energy they will have for pushing and motivating themselves to be successful.

Thank you, Larry, for such an interesting discussion!

PYC Core Course students with Larry Holm after the talk.

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Rebecca GrattageDeveloping your Personal Brand

Spotlight on youth talent: Elicia

by Rebecca Grattage on 11/09/2017 No comments

Here at Fontes we always strive to incorporate the students’ skills and passions into daily Youth Centre operation; be that encouraging a budding chef to sell her homemade samosas during breaks between classes, working with an aspiring young artist to help us design and paint the Fontes Youth Centre sign post, or most recently, asking one of our Core Course students Elicia, who is a certified electrician, to use her skills to assist the Youth Centre during our rewiring and electrical installation process at the new Fontes Youth Centre site.

Before joining the Fontes Youth Centre, Elicia worked as a video librarian whilst completing her certificate in Electrical Installation. Elicia chose to leave secondary school a couple of years before the official finish date because she had always dreamed of being an electrician, and so she decided to seize the opportunity to complete the Electrical Installation course when the opportunity arose. Elicia explained that becoming an electrician was her dream even when she was still in primary school; she was inspired by groups of electricians climbing poles and working on wiring in her local area.

Elicia decided to join the Fontes Youth Centre after completing her certificate in Electrical Installation in order to acquire ICT skills, and she said that she enjoys the ICT classes at PYC most of all. She is currently a student in the Core Course, which is a 6 months full-time programme structured around Business English, Entrepreneurship, ICT and Personal Development classes. As a final exam, students present a business plan to a panel of experts, using the full spectrum of skills they acquired.

Elicia’s goal in life is to be able to build a house for her parents and to start her own business. She told Fontes Foundation that she feels happy and excited when she practices electrical installation and that she finds it easy to do. After her time at PYC, Elicia hopes to start her own electrics enterprise will the skills that she has acquired during her time at the Youth Centre.

Thank you, Elicia, for sharing your story with us!

Fontes Youth Centre Core Course student Elicia wiring the new Centre lighting.

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Rebecca GrattageSpotlight on youth talent: Elicia

Capacity Building Workshop at PYC

by Rebecca Grattage on 31/08/2017 No comments

Last month, PYC hosted a business management and capacity building workshop with guest speaker Mr. C. Ramsby, a Swedish investor. The workshop focused on management style, business management, evaluations and definitions.  The students were asked to develop their own business plans which Mr. Ramsby offered to revise, correct, and even finance if he deemed them economically viable enough. The capacity building workshop helped to push the students to think differently and contribute to the conversation, each student coming up with a business idea to contribute to the group.

Mr. Ramsby used real-life situations to help the students to imagine and relate to business management. He asked the students what they do to deal with everyday life situations,  relating this to how to effectively assign and manage tasks in business, breaking down each and every task that is done to make an event a success – from washing dishes, shopping, cleaning the house, cooking and serving food to guests. Mr. Ramsby highlighted that each person’s individual effort helps to contribute to the success of an organization. He also talked about 360 degree business analysis and the need to make assumptions when doing business planning.

Mr. Ramsby then talked about innovation, highlighting the importance of new ideas, explaining that when planning, it is important to create unique selling propositions which should be the team, the product or the package.The students were challenged to work together, improving their team-work skills. They loved the workshop and asked to have Mr. Rambsy back at the centre for other business management and capacity building workshops!

Guest speaker Mr. C. Ramsby talking to PYC students.

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Rebecca GrattageCapacity Building Workshop at PYC

PYC Business and Innovation – the Spirit of Excellence.

by Rebecca Grattage on 28/08/2017 No comments

Last week, Fontes Foundation continued its motivational speaker series at Potentiam Youth Development Centre (PYC) by welcoming business specialist Edward Hire of AIG Uganda to talk to the Core Course students about business and innovation. He spoke about the “Spirit of Excellence” and the importance of thinking outside the box to achieve one’s dreams. Edward began the discussion by asking the students about their dreams and what they want in life. The majority of the students said that they want to start their own businesses, with the exception of two female students, one of whom dreams to go to London while the other would like to play for Manchester United football team.

Edward Hire talking to the students.

Edward Hire spoke enthusiastically about dreaming big, and about the importance of not letting oneself get discouraged by a situation or environment. He assured the students that if they dream, they will be surprised by how far they can go: “dream big, no matter the environment around you; the first step is to dare to dream.” He went on to stress the importance of challenging one’s mind and of thinking outside the box: “if you change your mind, your world will start to change.” The students were asked to think about how they could push themselves to achieve their goals. They were reminded that everything people do is a mind-set and that if you look at life differently- doing everything with a “spirit of excellence”- you can be successful.  Edward Hire explained that you have to work hard and pay the price to achieve your goals, explaining the “Principles of Excellence” which can be used to help define and push oneself.

According to Edward Hire, excellent people:

  1. Do not settle for the average.
  2. Pursue solutions.
  3. Possess ethics and integrity.
  4. Say what they mean and mean what they say.
  5. Go the extra mile; an excellent spirit always goes beyond the call of duty.
  6. Are consistent in everything they do.
  7. Give 100%; they pay the price to meet an objective.
  8. Have a signature: something that defines them.
  9. Never compare themselves with anyone but themselves.
  10. Are always looking for solutions for people in their societies.

Students taking notes during the business and innovation talk.

Excellence is therefore defined as the highest quality; it originates in your mind, translates in your speech and is demonstrated in your life. Edward Hire encouraged the students to look for ways to improve their lives to get to where they want to be, motivating them by reminding them that it is possible to make money with any business. He made suggestions of ways to make money – saving, lending, providing insurance, selling food, services, and more. He gave examples of successful people who started with very small sums of money and managed to grow their own businesses. It was very inspirational for the students to hear success stories and reflect on how they too could achieve their dreams. So, PYC’s business and innovation talk left the students asking themselves the question: “how can I push myself?” Edward Hire encouraged them to set goals for themselves that can push them even further in life, step by step, as Elbert Hubbard once said: “There is no failure except in no longer trying.”

Thank you Edward for such an inspirational talk!

The students with Edward Hire after the talk.

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Rebecca GrattagePYC Business and Innovation – the Spirit of Excellence.

Financial Literacy Talk at PYC

by Rebecca Grattage on 14/08/2017 No comments

On Wednesday 9th August students from our PYC Core Course were thrilled to welcome guest speakers Martin Muhwezi and Amon Tukaikiriza of the Investors Club Ltd to the youth centre to talk to them about financial literacy. The PYC core course is a 6 month full-time programme structured around Business, English, Entrepreneurship, ICT and Personal Development classes. Wednesday’s speakers sparked discussion about finance, investment and the importance of saving, leaving our students feeling inspired and eager to start their own investment clubs and start saving money immediately!

Martin Muhwezi started the conversation by asking our students about their passion, and their profession, before taking us back in time to remember the first time we handled money. Then, after an overview of the financial situation in East Africa, and in particular Uganda – which has the lowest GDP in East Africa – Martin discussed the best ways to save, introducing the students to a basic equation to help them in their quest to start saving money. Where Y = Income, C = Consumption and S = Savings, one of the best ways to save is Y – S = C, meaning that you spend only what is left after your savings have been put to one side. As Warren Buffet stated: ‘‘Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving”.

Martin went on to talk about the importance of investment clubs and working together towards a unified purpose. He explained to the students that investments clubs are fun because you can learn, save and invest together as a team. He added that there is also less risk with more people as the risk is divided and also that returns are higher because money has been pooled together and it is easier to invest with larger sums of money.

Martin Muhwezi introducing students to the basic equation to start saving money.

This workshop gave our students the opportunity to interact with successful investors, inspiring them to start changing their mind-sets about money and their relationship with it. The conversation tied in well with our Core Course syllabus, which aims to educate the students about understanding finances and how to best manage them. The Youth Centre gives training in basic financial management including savings, loans, bookkeeping and how to run a business, in addition to inviting professionals like Martin and Amon to speak and mentor the students about saving groups like the Investors Club Ltd which Martin and Amon are a part of.

Our students will continue to be encouraged to work in small groups to help improve their bargaining power and learn how to be accountable to one another. This is a successful model in generating start-up income, as there is security in numbers. As a group the students have the opportunity to start a savings loan group or a small SACCO that allows them to start saving and take out loans from the same group using their savings as collateral.

Our interactive talks from experts help to give the students a greater understanding of different grants and loans, and help them to determine which might be more suitable for them. After this week’s motivational talk, we hope that our students will now feel more confident to think big and dare to start something new!

Thanks very much Martin and Amol!

Martin Muhwezi giving a speech on financial literacy.

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Rebecca GrattageFinancial Literacy Talk at PYC

Water Committee Management Workshop

by Rebecca Grattage on 11/08/2017 No comments

In the framework the water projects’ monitoring system, Fontes Foundation conducted a field trip to check on water and educational projects in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Western Uganda from Sunday 16th to Friday 21st July 2017.

During the field trip, Philip Borchert (Laboremus Uganda Ltd) and Agnes Kampire (Fontes Foundation) held management workshops for the water committees. The aim of these management workshops was to provide a platform to reflect on past issues and to review how they were resolved, focusing on how the committees communicate internally and with different stakeholders.

Philip Borchert (Laboremus Uganda Ltd) and Agnes Kampire (Fontes Foundation) leading a management workshop for the water committees.


In the past, two of the main reoccurring problems for water committees have been management and communication issues, which sometimes cause committees to break down. The workshops therefore helped committee members to reflect on:

  • How to deal with a difficult person on a committee and help them to perform well.
  • How the water committee is responsible/accountable to the community.
  • How the water committee can involve the community in the management of the water.

Providing a workshop to help water committee members come together to improve their communication and management is crucial to the water projects’ sustainability. It is important that the committees can work independently from Fontes Foundation so that if necessary the projects can sustain themselves without our help.

To spark discussion, the committee prepared a role play, during which they impressed us with their acting skills. The role play addressed issues like how to detect conflicts in the team, including conflict resolution, money management and how to communicate better in a team. The members of the different committees were very engaged, and we were delighted to see how the different members reflected upon and discussed best-practices for the management of water systems.

Members of the water committees participating in role play.

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Rebecca GrattageWater Committee Management Workshop

Project Management Internship at Fontes Foundation

by fontes on 13/07/2017 No comments

My experience at Fontes Foundation in Uganda has been very enriching. Finding your way in a country and working environment that is so different to anything you know is challenging, yet highly rewarding. Fontes Foundation is currently in the process of formalizing efforts and strengthening the entrepreneurial focus in its Youth Development projects. I was fortunate enough to join the organization in such dynamic and exciting times, having the chance to actively engage myself in various ventures.

My first personal highlight was the co-organisation of the first ever Fontes Foundation Career Day. It was deeply satisfying to see – after initial difficulties – how sharply dressed students presented their startup ideas, around sixteen companies decorated their booths with banners, flyers and brochures to attract possible employees and our partners Jumia Jobs, DFCU Bank and People Performance Group  gave inspiring keynote speeches.

Today, I am delighted to be preparing myself to go on my first field trip to Western Uganda. After having done much research on safe water treatment and its impact and written various funding proposals, I am looking forward to visiting the villages we have set up safe water treatment plants in and experiencing our influence first hand. I am especially thrilled to visit the village of Katunguru, which is located within Queen Elizabeth National Park.

After this last adventure, my days at Fontes will soon come to an end. I happily look back on an insightful time. Not only did I get the chance to gather work experience in various processes of an NGO. I met many development professionals, be it government officials, development consultants, or EU and UN delegates, and learned about their career paths. This gave me a holistic understanding of the development sector and I discovered many opportunities for my professional future and how to grasp them.

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fontesProject Management Internship at Fontes Foundation

Improving Teaching Methods and Institutional Structure

by fontes on 10/07/2017 No comments

Fontes Foundation strives to constantly review and improve its organizational processes, as well as provide educational opportunities for its employees. These two aims were combined in a workshop set up by our Fredskorpset (FK) South-South exchange participant Serge Iradukunda.  Luckily, we were able to host Marit Blaak, who works as consultant for educational organisations in Uganda and is a PhD candidate at the University of Groeningen.

Marit sought to ignite a discussion on best teaching practices at Potentiam Youth Development Centre by having us reflect upon the diverse backgrounds and merits of our students as well as different learning types and how we deal with them in class. Thereafter, she asked us to come up with a common vision for the students and asked how we could adjust our teaching to more efficiently reach these objectives. The facilitators were glad to be given a platform to share their different teaching methods, discuss various approaches and voice challenges they face.

The following session focused on what we need to change on an institutional level to make sure we reach the goals we set for our students and ourselves. Next to an improvement in infrastructure, we discussed how we could strengthen cooperation in our team and how we could facilitate the sharing of information among team members to create a more open organizational culture.

The event was a success and Serge was delighted to have been given the opportunity to improve Fontes’ organizational structure and his own teaching skills. “I effectively learned in a compressed day what I could usually learn in a week. Marit was able to take the complex and make it simple. I now have a much better understanding on how to identify learners and develop practical facilitation techniques for different types of learners.

Serge giving the closing remarks on the successful capacity building

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fontesImproving Teaching Methods and Institutional Structure

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