Single Mothers Programme

Hairdressing: A Booming Industry in Uganda

by Hellen Griberg on 04/12/2017 No comments

Fontes Foundation’s Single Mothers Programme (SMP) has trained over 100 women since we introduced it two years ago. The programme aims to provide market-ready skills to young mothers who constitute almost 75% of out of school youth in Uganda [Bakalu 2013]. It provides training in a variety of skills including cooking, hairdressing, soap making, jewellery making and mushroom growing. The hairdressing course has been the most popular course, which has drawn many women to Fontes Youth Centre. This trend prompts the question – why is hairdressing such a sought-after skill?

African women or black women, in general, have a complex relationship with their hair. This topic has been explored in depth in various documentaries, including “Good Hair” by comedian Chris Rock, which examined the billion-dollar industry in the US that caters to black women in particular. Uganda is no different, the business of weaves, wigs, and braids is enormous, and it employs a considerable number of young women, especially those without an education. There are entire streets and areas designated for hair in the capital of Kampala. You will find shops selling hair waves and extensions, and people willing to plait your hair for anything between 20,000 (5 USD) to 200,000 (55 USD) Uganda shillings depending on the style and what is trending.

Recognizing this trend, Fontes decided to focus its SMP programme on training women in hairdressing, especially the kind that did not require salon equipment. In addition to reducing start-up costs, this also challenges the single mothers and encourages them to use their creativity. The versatility of hair in Uganda provides massive opportunities for women in this industry. The cost of setting up is relatively low, and services can even be provided at home. Since the clients always purchase the extensions separately, single mothers can almost start the business without any capital and expect huge returns.

Sewing in a weave to braided hair.

Our twelve-week course provides the Single mothers with at least three different hair-braiding techniques, which will serve them well in this booming hair industry. The informal sector accounts for 58 % of non-agricultural employment in Uganda according to the Skilling Uganda Strategic Plan for 2010-2020 that was recently published by the Ministry of Education. Efforts to formalize this sector has resulted in the recent introduction of a ‘WorkersPass,’ short for workers passport, which accredits youth who have gained and mastered a skill informally. The Directorate of Industrial Training only issues this after exams and testing of the different skills. This has been offered to youth in several trades including hairdressing, tailoring and masonry. As the hair industry is growing in Uganda, more women will be able to make lucrative money out of their hair business including the single mothers that we train at Fontes Youth Centre. This means that the single mothers that graduate from Fontes Youth Centre will have a qualification and a skill set that is recognized by the Ministry of Education.

The SMP programme is a unique course that offers young mothers the opportunity to acquire skill sets that will enable them to establish a micro business that will help support them and their family. As the hair industry is growing rapidly in Uganda, more women are able to make lucrative money out of their hair business, including the single mothers that we train at the youth centre.

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Hellen GribergHairdressing: A Booming Industry in Uganda

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

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

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