2017

All posts from 2017

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.

MY EXPERIENCE IN FK EXCHANGE PROGRAMM SO FAR….

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

From Breakdance Uganda to Photography

by fontes on 19/05/2017 No comments

Last week, we were happy to have an inspiring speech by Ugandan photographer Kibuuka Mukisa Oscar, who can be rightfully described as a self-made artist. He got interested in photography through Breakdance Project Uganda, where he was first introduced to a camera and started taking pictures of people breakdancing. The project turned out to be a great starting point for him to master the art of photography. He initiated his career as a photographer slowly. He did not have money to buy a camera and neither did his parents. Kibuuka, therefore, borrowed equipment from friends for gigs. Although he was faced with mistrust, in the beginning, he proved to be reliable and managed to gain a lot of experience. After a while, he was able to buy his first camera through a micro credit.

Today, Kibuuka has exhibited his work both locally and internationally, won several awards and been published in the Washington Post, the German Tageszeitung, and many others. However, Kibuuka still sticks to his roots and remains a vital part of the Ugandan Breakdance community. He is one of the founders of the Break-Fast Jam, East Africa’s biggest breakdance event, featuring dancers from Uganda, Kenya, Congo, Tanzania and Rwanda and beyond.

Kibuuka strongly believes in the power of hiphop to empower Kampala’s youth to become responsible citizens. He is happy to help provide a competitive and cooperative platform to break down societal barriers, be it on a social, economic or tribal level. The successful photographer, who is a role model to many, emphasizes that youth must not necessarily follow his exact career path to creatively harness their limited resources and make a living: “If you are passionate about something and surround yourself with the right people, things will fall into place. The more effort you put in, the more you get out of it.”

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fontesFrom Breakdance Uganda to Photography

Update on Fontes Football Club

by fontes on 10/05/2017 No comments

We are happy to announce that Fontes Football Club is now officially registered in the Ugandan Football Association FUFA, playing in the second division of Bukasa. Football is one of our key tools in bonding with disadvantaged youth in Kampala. It gives us the chance to learn more about young people’s lives, understand their needs, and spread the word about educational opportunities at Potentiam Youth Development Centre.

Former Ugandan national player and Fontes Football Team Coach Viali Bainomugisha is proud to have built a strong relationship with his players. The team has proven to support the players in various ways, some of them unforeseen. Not only did a number the players opt to study Business, ICT and Englisha at Potentiam Youth Development Centre. Coach Viali managed to link the most talented players to clubs in higher leagues, some of them playing on a semi-pro level at this point. Additionally, Viali successfully arranged sports scholarships for a couple of players, enabling them to finish their high school education. The schools suspended their tuition fees, so the players would play for their school teams.

Coach Viali giving technical instructions after practice

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fontesUpdate on Fontes Football Club

Job Placement Programme – Student interviews

by fontes on 18/04/2017 No comments

Last week, it was time to introduce the current core course students at the Potentiam Youth Development Centre to the newly implemented Job Placement Programme. To start off, Gary Agaba, the Youth Centre’s Personal Development Facilitator, gave an introductory speech about the idea behind the initiative, the requirements to participate and the expected outcomes. Thereafter, the Fontes team held individual interviews with the participants.

This approach supports our vision in two ways. First, it allows us to understand the personal strengths and goals of each of the students, facilitating the search for suitable employers and partners. Furthermore, the interviews are part of an encompassing monitoring system.

By constantly evaluating the satisfaction and performance of placed students and their employers, we receive crucial insights for our customer relationship management and impact measurement systems. These findings will thus help us improve our curriculum and strengthen partnerships with employers.

Geofrey explaining his business idea

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fontesJob Placement Programme – Student interviews

Capacity Building Single Mothers Programme

by fontes on 28/03/2017 No comments

While we are wrapping up the cooking classes, we held a workshop at the Youth Centre for the participants of the Single Mothers Programme this Monday, with the goal to build capacities in different aspects of entrepreneurship. Since the majority of the single mothers are unable to take on full-time employment, starting their own business can be a way for them to sustain their families and escape poverty. In order for the single mothers to get a grasp of important steps in successfully starting and managing their own micro-startup, our employees Raymond Mungujakissa and Gloria Ingabire gave them valuable insights in financial literacy, basic marketing, and micro-financing.

Coming from a financial background, Raymond talked about financial literacy and emphasised the first steps in developing a simple marketing concept. He started with an outline of simple economics, introducing the concept of supply and demand, and how they determine the price of a good. Raymond used local examples and stressed several factors that can influence demand for certain products or services, such as school seasons, festive seasons and current customer preferences. Thereafter, he explained the significance of the supply side in understanding one’s market. He underlined the importance of understanding the competition, how many other businesses sell the same products or services (e.g. there are plenty of Boda drivers in Kampala), and how one’s goods vary from the competition.

He also focused on the evaluation of a profitable customer base and how this will help them finding their positioning in the market. Raymond pointed out various criteria for the segmentation of a customer base, such as demographics, income level, family status, occupation and location. This session was well received by the participants as he managed to give them a good structure on important issues in the process of starting a micro-business.

The second part of the capacity building tackled another main issue for many micro-businesses, namely access to funding. Gloria, who brings valuable experience to our team in the course of a South-South exchange between Rwanda and Uganda, presented a form of micro-financing that turned out to be rather successful in Rwanda. She first introduced a case study on women saving groups, stressing how this system can help low-income earners raise money towards their small businesses, and how it contributed to development in Rwanda. She then successfully explained key aspects of this financing method, by emphasising how women saving groups can be formed, managed, and operated.

The event turned out successful, with a satisfactory engagement of the single mothers. The participants posed many questions and appeared really interested in the different solutions presented by the two speakers. We are looking forward to assisting them in establishing their own micro-businesses and seeing them succeed.

Raymond discussing financial literacy

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fontesCapacity Building Single Mothers Programme

Lifeline Skills for Young Single Mothers

by fontes on 08/02/2017 No comments

Over the last three weeks, the Fontes Foundation team and the Potentiam Youth Centre staff have been mobilising and informing women in the slums surrounding Muyenga and Bukasa, about our Single Mothers Programme. The programme aims to empower young single mothers through soft and hard skills training so that they can create employment opportunities and financial independence for themselves and their children.

Over the next month, the women will be learning how to make local, popular snacks. In addition, to the hands-on training, the women will also be taught marketing, saving and financial management skills to assist them in creating start-up businesses. The mobilisation efforts were a huge success with the first two classes filled with excited young mothers. The mothers were able to devote their full attention to the training, as their children were cared for by the centre’s childminder in the children’s corner. Although, sometimes a moment of a mother’s touch is needed.

The mother’s learning the art of making samosas’ with Sheraton chef, Dan Kato

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fontesLifeline Skills for Young Single Mothers

Launch of the Job Placement Programme

by fontes on 03/02/2017 No comments

To ensure greater employment opportunities for the Potentiam Youth Centres’ graduates, Fontes Foundation is excited to announce that last week it launched a Job Placement Programme. While the centre equips and trains the students with the necessary skills for employment or starting their own businesses, it is evident that the students require post-graduation support to assist them with the transition from the class room to the job market. The new programme aims to provide this continued support for the graduates, by offering work experience opportunities and connecting employers with graduates. In addition, the programme will provide continued financial advice, support and start-up credit opportunities for those graduates starting their own businesses.

The programme will be led by Gary Agaba, who is also the youth centre’s personal development facilitator. The programme is already off to a successful start with 3 job placements and 2 internship positions found for five of the centre’s graduates.

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fontesLaunch of the Job Placement Programme