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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

Meet Scholarship Student, Cleophas

by fontes on 20/12/2016 No comments

Cleophas Tumuhimbise comes from the small fishing village of Kashaka, one of the villages where Fontes Foundation has installed a safe water system. His mother, as a single mother, could not afford his education. In the extremely poor villages of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, without an education, a young boy like Cleophas is expected to become a fisherman. A fisherman’s life is extremely harsh with little pay and dangerous working conditions. The fishermen of Kashaka risk their lives every day to catch fish in lakes that are crocodile and hippo infested. Thanks to Cleophas’s sponsor in Germany, he was given a chance to study and build a better life for himself.

With his donor’s support, Cleophas completed secondary school and two years of vocational training. He now has a certificate in electrical engineering and one in business management. His hard work and excellent grades made Cleophas a model student, while his outgoing and friendly personality has helped him to establish good relations and networks within his community. This strong community involvement made Cleophas the perfect candidate for our field intern position. And we weren’t wrong, he has already hit the ground running, assisting our field officer and also former scholarship student, Pascal. When Kashaka lost their water technician, Cleophas was quick to step in and take over the position.

In addition, Cleophas continues to build strong ties to his community by recently opening a bar in Kashaka.

By sponsoring a child through the Fontes Foundation’s Scholarship program, you can provide a child like Cleophas with the opportunity to escape poverty and create a better life for themselves and their community. Find out more about how to sponsor a child this Christmas.

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fontesMeet Scholarship Student, Cleophas

2016 Safe Water Seminar

by fontes on 20/12/2016 No comments

This year, Fontes Foundation was able to hold a safe water seminar for the first time since 2012, thanks to a generous donation from the Pharo Foundation. The water seminar took place in Katunguru-Kasese from 24th-25th November, 2016. The objective of the water seminar was to improve financial and technical capabilities of the Fontes Foundation water committees to ensure adequate water service delivery to the community. The seminar addressed a number of areas that are vital for ensuring effective water committee management, these included community mobilization, financial management and technical training.

Water seminars present an opportunity for the different water committees to come together and share experiences and learn from one another. During the seminar participants were encouraged to actively engage in discussions, group work and presentations. In addition, local leaders and other stakeholders were also invited to the seminar to facilitate relationship building and community mobilization.

The seminar was a huge success, the organizers were met with extremely engaged and motivated participants. The feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive, they expressed how the opportunity allowed them to network and make friends, develop new skills, to share experiences and gain knowledge about project management. In their feedback, many of the participants suggested yearly water seminars. We are therefore happy to announce that Pharo Foundation has provided funding for three consecutive years. We look forward to next year’s water seminar and seeing how the committees are progressing as a result of such training sessions.

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fontes2016 Safe Water Seminar

Fontes Foundation’s newest board member

by fontes on 16/12/2016 No comments

Michael Pletscher, joined Fontes Foundation as an Intern in early 2013. As an intern, Michael demonstrated strong leadership skills and was known for his enthusiastic hands on approach. In addition, Michael adapted very quickly to the Ugandan lifestyle, in particular to the Ugandan food. As Regional Coordinator, Michael has ensured the technical quality of all activities in the implementation and management of Fontes’ safe water, education and youth programmes. His valuable contribution has increased fundraising efforts, community mobilisation and improved organisational structure.

As we weren’t quite ready to say goodbye to Michael and loose his knowledge and expertise, we were proud to invite Michael to be a Fontes Foundation board member. Michael’s extensive experience working closely on all of Fontes Foundation’s projects makes him the perfect candidate for providing advice and guidance for Fontes’ activities for hopefully years to come.

Michael with the other Fontes Foundation board members

Michael with the other Fontes Foundation board members

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fontesFontes Foundation’s newest board member

How invested community participation leads to greater water system sustainability

by fontes on 09/12/2016 No comments

The Fontes Foundation team has just returned from a field trip in the Queen Elizabeth National Park, where the main purpose of the trip was to conduct follow-ups in all of our water and education projects and hold a two-day water seminar for the Fontes water committees. The Fontes team observed how the water committees were taking charge and creating positive change in their water systems by showing a greater commitment to project maintenance, upscaling the water systems and coming up with innovative solutions to reoccurring problems.

Across all water projects, committees were improving their systems by ensuring regular maintenance. The committees weren’t just making small repairs, they were also undertaking more substantive maintenance. When a filter broke in Kazinga, the water committee raised money to buy and replace the broken parts. In both Kazinga and Kashaka the water committees have replaced broken doors at the tap stands and water meters. In Kiseyni, the committee brought in technical expertise to fix a broken intake cable. While the water committee in Katuguru-Kasese has put concrete around their intake for lasting stability.

The Fontes team was impressed by some of the water committees, who were taking initiative and upscaling their water systems. In Kisenyi, the water committee has installed an additional public tap stand to accommodate those people in the village who live further away from the two main public tap stands. They have plans to install another two public tap stands in the near future to ensure that the whole community has easy access to clean water. Katunguru-Kasese and Katunguru-Rubirizi are both continuing to install private connections. Kasese currently has 25 private connections. Such private connections and additional public tap stands provide the water committees with greater income and savings to better manage the systems and ensure the system’s sustainability.

Lastly, the water committees demonstrated their ability to implement innovative and preventable solutions to reoccurring problems. In Kisenyi, the water committee came up with an environmentally sustainable solution to animals destroying the fence that surrounds the water tanks. The committee has created a natural fence by planting trees. After loosing a technician, the water committee in Kashaka is providing technical training to multiple people in the community to ensure that information is never lost and that they can always find a quick replacement technician if needed. In Katunguru-Kasese the water committee is testing out a new type of tap that has a gate valve, in an attempt to stop leakages. Finally, to fix the problem of chemical shortages, all five water committees are considering buying chemicals together in bulk and storing them in Katunguru-Kasese, as it has the most accessible road. By buying in bulk together, all water committees will ensure that their water system will never suffer from chemical shortages again.

At Fontes, we believe that greater community participation in development projects leads to improved resource sustainability and quality of infrastructure. As the Fontes water committees actively invest in maintaining, improving and managing their water systems their communities will continue to benefit from the Fontes safe water projects for years to come.

The new 'gate valve' taps in Katunguru-Kasese

The new ‘gate valve’ taps in Katunguru-Kasese

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fontesHow invested community participation leads to greater water system sustainability

Gearing up for Employment

by fontes on 28/10/2016 No comments

As the current core course at Potentiam Youth Development Centre is coming to an end and the students are getting ready for their end of term exams and graduation, the centre provided them with one last week worth of capacity building sessions to ensure that they are ready to tackle all obstacles in their endeavour to find jobs or start their own businesses. During this week the students learnt the do’s and don’ts of interviews with Marianne Øhlckers from Laboremus, the opportunities available to them from group saving loans with Stromme Foundation and the difficult issue of how to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace with the centre’s councillor, Jolly Nakibirango.

One of the hardest parts of getting a job is succeeding in the interview stage. Knowing how to present yourself, what to say/what not to say and how to prepare for an interview are all important issues that HR manager, Marianne Øhlckers, addressed in her capacity building session. Marianne, who has conducted numerous job interviews as an employer, provided the students with her valuable insights. After the session the students participated in role plays, practicing and perfecting the difficult and often asked questions during job interviews.

Finding a start-up loan for a first business is almost impossible for the youth of Uganda. Lucky for our students, Stromme Foundation took some time out of their busy schedule to inform the students about group management micro-finance. Stromme Foundation’s savings groups teach people to come together and manage their finances both as a group as well as individually. Along with creating a savings group, an individual is able to take out a loan from the group to use as a start-up fund for their business. The students learnt the value of maintaining patience, discipline and motivation when creating savings.

An issue that we hope no student will ever have to endure is one of sexual harassment in the workplace. However, if the unfortunate happens we wanted to ensure our students are equipped with the knowledge of how to deal with such an incident. Jolly Nakibirango, the centre’s councillor, informed the students about what constitutes sexual harassment, how to deal with it and the legal avenues available to them in Uganda. The session was followed with a group discussion where all the students engaged in the conversation and asked many questions. When asked to give feedback about the session the students expressed their appreciation for the talk and their new awareness.

– written by Rebekah Harvey

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fontesGearing up for Employment

Two Single Mothers, one Success Story

by fontes on 22/07/2016 No comments

Scollah Tukwasibwe and Jenifer Nalimo, both former students of the Potentiam Youth Centre’s Single Mothers Programme (SMP) never imagined the powerful impact their participation would have on their livelihoods.

Former SMP participant Jenifer proudly presenting one among MAKULA group's creative and colourful products.

Former SMP participant Jenifer proudly presenting one among MAKULA group’s creative and colourful products.

Joining the programme accidentally, they acquired a lot of useful skills e.g. making jewellery, sandals, seat and bed covers as well as growing mushrooms. Inspired by those creative inputs, they gained enough self-confidence and the necessary skills to form the MAKULA group. Together, the members produce bags and jewellery. Owing to the holistic and hands-on teaching approach of the SMP, they did not only acquire the required craftsmanship skills for their business, they also learned how to become successful entrepreneurs with a low start-up budget.

In order to economize on production costs, the group developed creative design ideas, such as making use of different resource materials, as for instance paper, instead of solely relying on the rather costly beads. By carrying out their work from a member’s home, they found a way on how to circumvent the high rental costs for office spaces, so to be able to properly invest the money into those business activities, that need it the most. So far, MAKULA counts 42 full memberships, with 16 active members and it was able to accumulate a promising capital of 720,000 UGX (ca. 200 USD). The founders are very ambitious to further expand their initiative and make it their main source of income.

The two former participants are an encouraging example of the positive effects the SMP can have on individual livelihoods. Both of our former students testified that they are really grateful for the opportunity the SMP gave them. ‘Thank you Fontes Foundation Uganda for launching the SMP, because we single mothers have gained a lot from the training. It helped us to earn a small living’ (Jenifer Nalimo, 2015).

– written by Isaac Taremwa

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fontesTwo Single Mothers, one Success Story