Apiyo Oweka-Laboke

Meet Julienne Uwanziga – Our FK Participant from Rwanda

by Apiyo Oweka-Laboke on 09/12/2015 No comments

Julienne, what are you most excited about regarding the Fredskorpset exchange?
I am excited about meeting different people, getting experience and also sharing some of the good practices from my country.

How will this experience benefit your professional career?
I am already quite impressed by the standards and ethics at Fontes Foundation especially the accountability practices that I have learnt in the last couple of days. Also the professionalism demonstrated by the staff at Fontes has inspired me, I am now more confident and also enjoying working in a multi-cultural environment. I would also add that I am getting more exposure and all this will be of great benefit to my career.

What do you hope to have achieved by the end of this exchange? What do you want to be remembered for after your exchange period comes to an end?Portrait Julienne
I was informed that one of the centre’s main challenges was student mobilization, which is something we have managed to do quite well in Rwanda. So this is an area I hope to improve upon by sharing ideas on how to better mobilize. I also hope to build networks between the Potentiam Youth Centre and other organizations in Rwanda to share best practices.

Anything strange that you have noticed in Uganda that doesn’t happen in Rwanda?
The traffic in Uganda is crazy, the way people drive, the jams every evening. There are so many cars in Uganda and the other day I saw a man in civilian clothes who did not look like a traffic policeman and he was directing traffic. That would never happen in Rwanda. One thing I love about Uganda is that there are so many restaurants and eating places with delicious food, unlike in Rwanda. And I really like Ugandan food.

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Apiyo Oweka-LabokeMeet Julienne Uwanziga – Our FK Participant from Rwanda

Participants Begin Fredskorpset (FK) Exchange

by Apiyo Oweka-Laboke on 09/12/2015 No comments

Through its South-South Programme, Fredskorpset (FK Norway) has facilitated a personnel exchange between Fontes Foundation in Uganda and the Amizero Training Center in Rwanda. FK Norway, which is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has facilitated exchange programmes for over 50 years and Fontes Foundation is proud to be one of its partners. The knowledge and skills exchange we are participating in is designed to promote the sharing of best practices across organizations, encourage learning and inspire and motivate participants. Fontes Foundation will learn what it is that makes Amizero successful and how some of those successes can be emulated and adopted in the context of the Potentiam Youth Centre. Upon their return, the exchange participants are expected to disseminate the information acquired and to share it with their colleagues so that there is a widespread impact within the organization. A feasibility study conducted in 2013 concluded that an exchange between Fontes’ Potentiam Youth Centre (PYC) and the Amizero Training Center would likely contribute to operational improvements at the two centres.

During the two-week programme in Entebbe, the diverse group of participants received a useful inter-cultural training that should facilitate their start in a new environment.

During the two-week programme in Entebbe, the participants received a useful inter-cultural training that should facilitate their start in a new environment.

Therefore, the PYC is participating with our centre manager Surea Namanda Njuki, who has been with Fontes for 3 years by now. Surea will spend 6 months in Rwanda, learning and generating ideas on how we can improve operations at the youth centre by adopting some best practices of the Amizero Training Center. In exchange, Fontes Foundation Uganda will be hosting Julienne Uwanziga, an affiliate of the Amizero Training Center in Kayonza, Rwanda, as the interim PYC manager.

Along with FK exchange participants from around the world, Julienne and Surea attended a two-week introductory course in Entebbe, Uganda. The course was aimed at presenting FK Norway to the participants as well as to prepare them for cultural challenges they might encounter during their exchange and it also allowed them to share experiences with other outgoing participants and supervisors from the respective organizations.

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Apiyo Oweka-LabokeParticipants Begin Fredskorpset (FK) Exchange

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

Graduation Day

by Apiyo Oweka-Laboke on 20/07/2014 No comments

In August the Potentiam Youth Development Centre proudly graduated another cohort of 11 students from the 3rd round of the Core Course. Over 60 students also received certificates in the Short Courses of Basic ICT and Basic English and Literacy. In the two years since conception, the Centre has trained over 200 high-school dropouts in Soft Skills and Business Skills to improve their chances in accessing gainful employment.

The graduation celebration was presided over by Mr. Kiggundu Gonzaga, a Programme Officer at Hunger Free World, who in his inspirational speech emphasized the importance of making the most of professional opportunities. He reminded the graduates that the long-term perspective is very important when starting a career and that working your way to the top will take time and energy but that sincere efforts will be rewarded. This was pertinent advice for our graduates, who are now planning their professional future. The Potentiam Youth Development Centre will continuously follow the students through the mentorship program and different evaluation tools to ensure that they are ideally supported to achieve the final goal: employment and a sustainable career.

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Apiyo Oweka-LabokeGraduation Day

Empowering Single Mothers

by Apiyo Oweka-Laboke on 26/06/2014 No comments

The new Single Mothers Programme established with support from AiM Norway is an important addition to the curriculum of the Youth Centre.

According to an assessment carried out in 2004 by the Single Parents Association of Uganda (SPAU), over 50% of families in Uganda are single parent households. The majority of these households consist of single mothers and their children. The increasing rate of teenage pregnancies in Uganda is one of the key drivers of such single-mother households. Beyond early pregnancy, physical violence and emotional abuse lead to brave women and girls leaving their husbands or partners in search of a better life for themselves and their children. Some single mothers have also lost their spouses to HIV/AIDS, a prevailing challenge in Uganda. Single mothers, especially in the area of Muyenga and Kabalagala where the Potentiam Youth Development Centre operates, are particularly vulnerable to become victims of sex trade.


  • Facilitate flexible training for single mothers.
  • Provide social and psychological support to increase their self-esteem.
  • Provide a day-care program in the new Child Corner.
  • Provide support and short workshops to help the young mothers start small-scale businesses.

The Potentiam Youth Development Centre with the help of AiM (Aid in Meeting), a collaboration of Lions Club Students from the Universities of Bergen and Trondheim in Norway, has established the “Single Mothers Programme”. The aim of this programme is to provide support specific to the needs of young mothers studying at the Centre to acquire business skills. In past years, the dropout rate among young mothers in the different courses offered was particularly high because of lack of childcare at home.

Members of the AiM Delegation from Norway in the new Child Corner for the Centre.

Members of the AiM Delegation from Norway in the new Child Corner for the Centre.

The Students from AiM visited the Centre and participated in the designing and setting up of the child corner, the space where the day-care programme will take place. The room has been stocked with toys as well as storybooks, blankets and pillows for entertainment and rest.

During the pilot phase the Centre will conduct several trainings in simple “from-home” businesses such as baking, which will provide them with relevant skills to become more independent and self-sufficient. This exciting new programme is an important expansion of the services offered by the Potentiam Youth Development Centre and will crucially support one of our most vulnerable student groups and will empower young mothers.

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Apiyo Oweka-LabokeEmpowering Single Mothers

Numbers Proving Success

by Apiyo Oweka-Laboke on 09/11/2013 No comments

Our holistic approach with emphasis on service quality and long perspective mentor support changes attitudes and counters youth unemployment.

After 2 years of operation Potentiam Youth Centre can finally claim that the concept has been tried and tested with excellent results. Ignoring the road of least resistance the centre took the daunting task of changing attitudes and the mindset of disadvantaged youth to make them more employable. The initial assessment study suggested that part of the unemployment problem was the poor attitudes of the young people that discouraged a lot of employees.

The monthly salary 6 months after graduation of the students from the Core Course.

The monthly salary 6 months after graduation of the students from the Core Course.

The Centre has to date graduated 147 youth that have undergone training in Basic ICT, English and Literacy and the Core Course in Applied Business Skills. There was a 92% graduation rate for the Core course and of those who graduated, 73% were able to find employment within the first 3 months of finishing the course and 82% were employed by the 6th month. These are impressive statistics that have not been registered by any youth development programme in Uganda so far.

Half of the students had more than doubled their income compared to what they earned before taking the course. 55% of the employment is in the informal sector, 18% in the formal sector, 18% in both formal and informal sectors combined and 9% are unemployed. The salary scale of these graduates ranges from USD 25 a month up to USD 365 per month. Out of the total graduated students from the first core course, 80% of the incomes are regular with only two students fluctuating depending on the number of jobs and season of a given month.

Months without employment after graduation from PYC.

Months without employment after graduation from PYC.

The training we provide is not unique to the centre. There are several other youth development programmes providing the same sort of training. However, the centre’s success is rooted in its holistic approach and the quality of service provided. Albeit still small and growing, it allows the centre the flexibility to review the curriculum often with input from the students so there is constant improvement. The support system provided by the staff, the mentors and the community is unrivalled as supportive relationships are the back bone to the success of any community programme.

The activities at the centre are designed to enhance confidence and promote independent and analytical thinking. The personal development classes prepares the students for the employment market. In the core course of the class the students get to know themselves, gain value and worthiness and develops a sense of belonging to the centre and the community. This is important since most of the students come from troubled backgrounds. The students are followed up by mentors for six months during the course, and then for 18 months after graduation and into their professional lives. We are interested in knowing how the students fare in their carriers and to fix the problem if they are struggling.

The centre has invested highly in quality staff that is motivated and hired not just because they are skilled but also for their passion for the work they do. The staff undergoes constant capacity building to improve their teaching skills especially working with disadvantaged youth who need a little extra help. Investing in people for long term impact is our model of sustainability and as long as the centre continues to innovate and think outside the box, it will continue putting a dent in the youth unemployment statistics.

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Apiyo Oweka-LabokeNumbers Proving Success

Potentiam Core Course Students Attend a Youth Symposium

by Apiyo Oweka-Laboke on 02/11/2013 No comments

Potentiam Youth Center core course students attend an all day youth symposium organized by Uganda Youth Forum (UYF) and powered by Barclays Bank on Saturday November 2nd at the Uganda Museum Hall.

The theme of the symposium was to develop and support 5 million young futures in a 5 year time frame. Potentially, this would be achieved through providing training, mentorship and inspiring young people to unlock their potential and create jobs instead of looking out for jobs.

The Barclays Bank employee team facilitated the event as they engaged youth in various sessions on unlocking the mindset /attitude and nurture employability skills in which participants discussed the importance of having a resourceful mindset as it determines performance and results at work, how to prepare and write Cvs, how to impress and excel during interviews and what employability skills employers will consider during the recruitment process, getting the job and keeping it, etc

Facilitators of the event interactively discussed with the youth highlighting, work place ethics, expectations of employers from employees and how to nurture a resourceful mindset based to time management, financial literacy, innovation, managing start up businesses.

Some of the Speakers included James dokoria of Uganda industrial research institute (MTIC), Michael segwaya , finance director Barclays bank as well as various organizations and stakeholders like Global Health corps and Red cross MTIC.

During the event a bazaar/ fair was conducted offering a number of services including health services like blood donation, HIV testing, family planning and different concepts of industrialization for value addition on agricultural products. Students were also given free guide books on how to excel during interviews, mastering money matters , starting up and managing a business.

The symposium was closed by Barclays Bank Uganda’s Managing Director, who challenged youth to venture in areas where there are fewer risks. He singled out agriculture as being an important portal for Ugandans aspiring to achieve financial freedom and stressed Barclays Banks commitment to supporting entrepreneurs in Uganda.

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Apiyo Oweka-LabokePotentiam Core Course Students Attend a Youth Symposium

Forging Partnerships

by Apiyo Oweka-Laboke on 03/09/2013 No comments

Daniel Stern Founder of UConnect together with Dan Boston CEO of the R.A.I.S.E Programme and Grace Achire CEO of Vantage Communications took an interest in the work Fontes is doing at the Potentiam Youth Center. They visited the center, interacted with the staff and even sat in for some of the classes. They were impressed with the center model, most especially the Personal Development classes. Forging meaningful partnerships enhances the work that we do in creating long term impact and sustainability.

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Apiyo Oweka-LabokeForging Partnerships