Rebecca Grattage

Following up with our most recent Job Placement Programme (JPP) students

by Rebecca Grattage on 03/10/2017 No comments

Fontes Foundation aims to support graduates of the Fontes Youth Development Centre in starting their professional careers. We therefore partner with companies across different sectors that are willing to work with Kampala’s youth.The Job Placement Programme (JPP) helps graduates conduct internships at one of our partner companies for three months, where they apply their newly developed skills in a practical setting. After the internships, students will either be taken on full time by their current employers, find a new position or use their expertise to start their own micro-startups.

In order to insure that the JPP functions smoothly, we stay in touch with both employers and employees during and after the internship to assist in the successful implementation of the agreement. Last week, we went to visit Joan Nasaali and Sharon Kemirembe, who both graduated from Fontes Youth Development Centre (FYC) in June 2017 and both recently started working as waitresses at Vika Restaurant in Kampala. They both explained how they are already applying the skills they honed at FYC – especially public speaking skills and improved personal confidence, which they say help them as waitresses.

Joan and Sharon at their new workplace

For Sharon, this internship is perfectly in line with her future dreams: to set up her own restaurant. She hopes that the skills she gains during her time as a waitress, in addition to the business skills she acquired during her time at FYC, will help her in progressing to achieve her goal. Joan also plans on setting up her own business, but her passion is in tailoring and fashion, so after gaining work experience using the Fontes JPP, she plans to set up her own business.

Joan and Sharon showing off their new work uniforms.

Fontes Foundation will continue to follow up with the FYC graduates and their employers to make sure that everyone is happy with the programme. Fontes Foundation typically follows up with students for at least 2 years with continuous mentorship and guidance. Further support is offered by the Alumni Organisation through networking opportunities and business development services.

Vika Restaurant, Ggaba Road, Kampala

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Rebecca GrattageFollowing up with our most recent Job Placement Programme (JPP) students

SMP Hairdressing Exam at Fontes Youth Centre

by Rebecca Grattage on 03/10/2017 No comments

In September, the Fontes Youth Centre’s Single Mothers’ Programme (SMP) students had their end-of-course hairdressing exam. SMP was designed to support single mothers in setting up microbusinesses in hair-dressing, baking, beadwork, soap making and several other different trades with an aim to create an alternative income to sustain the mothers and their children. These microbusinesses would then help them provide for themselves and their families and escape the cycle of poverty.

The Single Mothers’ Programme has trained to date over 100 women. In addition to the training, child minder services are provided for the women to be able to attend the sessions without being interrupted by their children. Over 50 children have come to Fontes Youth Development Centre with their mothers since the program started 4 years ago. The trainings take approximately 12 weeks and are divided into 4 sessions per month, taking place every Monday.

SMP students braiding hair.

During the last couple of months, the students have been learning different hairdressing techniques with hair and beauty expert Robina Makula of Makula Beauty salon in Kalerwe. On examination day, the students worked in groups to complete a variety of hairstyles, including traditional braids and twists, weaves, chemical treatment and more. The students implemented the complete hairdressing procedure – from taking out the old hairstyle, to washing the hair, drying it, combing it, braiding it and for some models, sewing in a weave.


Work in progress – twists.

The hairdressing expert and examiner Ms. Makula was thrilled with the results; all of the hairstyles were done to a professional level, and the models were delighted with their new hair-dos! The women will continue to practice and perfect their skills, with many hoping to set up their own hair salons and/or beauty businesses in the future.

Braiding the hair reading to sew in a weave.

A very big well done to our hardworking SMP students!

SMP students happy after passing their exam.

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Rebecca GrattageSMP Hairdressing Exam at Fontes Youth Centre

Addiction awareness-raising at Fontes Youth Centre

by Rebecca Grattage on 03/10/2017 No comments

On Friday 22nd September Fontes Foundation welcomed Bill Bekunda – an addiction recovery coach – to the Youth Centre to talk to our Core Course students about addictions and his personal struggle with alcohol addiction. Bill is now a recovering alcoholic and helps people in the process of recovery from substance abuse and alcoholism.

Bill Bekunda speaking to Fontes Youth Centre students.

Bill gave a detailed account of his life- and his struggles with alcohol addiction over a period of roughly 16 years (15- 31 years old). He was first introduced to alcohol at the tender age of 14 after giving in to class mates’ peer-pressure.  Bill described the burning effect of the alcohol and how it made him happy and confident, as the alcohol overpowered his senses.

That moment was the beginning of a very long journey for Bill.

Bill explained that alcohol is a depressant and it mimics what dopamine does in the brain. Alcohol triggers the release of dopamine, which should be released naturally through natural pleasures.Once Bill was addicted to the feeling alcohol triggered, he would do anything he could to have more and feel the effects of alcohol again and again.

Through his story, Bill explained the dangers of alcohol, describing how it interrupts thinking capacity and normal bodily functions, effecting reasoning judgement and emotions. Involuntary actions such as the heartbeat, breathing and digestion are all slowed down by alcohol.

Bill Bekunda speaking to Fontes Youth Centre students.

Bell Bekunda referenced statistics by the World Health Organisation (WHO): 10% of the world’s population are likely to get addicted to substances because some people’s brains are structured to like alcohol. 40% of anyone who starts using alcohol under the age of 15 is likely to become an addict, 80% of those who get a problem become drug addicts, and 38% of those people go on to use crack cocaine.

Bill summarised his talk by explaining to the students that it is important to understand the dangers of alcohol and to realise that you never need alcohol. Peer pressure is dangerous not only to children, but to adults too, and alcohol can become a habit and then an addiction. If you ever use alcohol against spiritual, economic, social, physical or mental needs, it can become a danger to your wellbeing.

If you are interested in learning more about Bill Bekunda’s work with addiction recovery in Uganda, or to donate to his on-going work to achieve an #addictionfreeUG, please contact him on:


Bill Bekunda +256 (0) 782 031 223

And follow the hashtags #addictionfreeUG #StopUnderageDrinkingUganda

Fontes Youth Centre students and staff with Bill after his talk.

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Rebecca GrattageAddiction awareness-raising at Fontes Youth Centre

Fontes Cultural Troupe explores Uganda’s cultures in performance

by Rebecca Grattage on 03/10/2017 No comments

On 24.09.17, Fontes Cultural Troupe performed at the new Youth Centre site located near Ggaba Road in Bunga, Kampala with their event “Explore Uganda’s Cultures.” The event attracted a lot of visitors, all keen to see the variety of dances, singing, acrobatics and fire show that the Cultural Troupe had to offer.

Members of the audience watching the show

Since the launch of Fontes Foundation’s Youth Development Centre in 2012, we have been organising recreational activities open to the entire local community. With the founding of Fontes Cultural Troupe we sought to engage with the local community and learn more about the challenges people face.  Additionally, we aimed to extend our reach and spread the word about the education opportunities we offer.

An acrobatics performance

Fontes Cultural Troupe performs modern and traditional dances from many cultures in Uganda, with cultural music, mimes, drama, instrumental music, and fire performance.The Troupe uses a variety of instruments including drums, adungu, xylophone, shakers, panpipes and other percussion instruments and currently has 20+ members, aged between 8 and 35 years old.

One of the dance performances by Fontes Cultural Troupe

The Troupe activities allow a variety of people to come together and share the beauty of dance and music together.They perform at many events, including weddings, birthday parties, introduction ceremonies, general festivities, and more. 

Fontes Cultural Troupe dancing

Fontes Cultural Troupe’s “Explore Uganda’s Cultures” event did not disappoint, and left audience members gripped to their seats throughout the performance. The Troupe alternated between dance, song, acrobatics and fire performance to keep the show varied and fun.

Watching a member of the Troupe eat fire.

A concrete business plan is currently being compiled for Fontes Cultural Troupe to be self-sustainable. With the growing tourism industry in Uganda, it bears the potential of offering additional sources of income to the members.



Fontes Cultural Troupe dancing


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Rebecca GrattageFontes Cultural Troupe explores Uganda’s cultures in performance

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