news2015-12

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Next Generation of ICT Education – Funding Appeal

by Agnes Kampire on 09/12/2015 No comments

Established in 2013, the Acacia Internet Café was primarily intended to benefit the primary and secondary school in the local community. The strategy was to foster development by enabling access to computers and the internet as well as by providing a platform to practice the English language. Within the first eight months of operations, a large number of community members used the internet and the secretarial services offered at the café. More recently however, the café faced some challenges: Due to a lack of funds and, perhaps resulting from the low level of computer skills of its users, the computers keep breaking down. Moreover, the printing and photocopying machine has stopped working and the internet connection has been slow and sometimes ceases working at all, further deteriorating the café’s financial capacity as these represented its main revenue sources.

Box - Funding AppealBased on the experiences made, Fontes Foundation aspires to turn the café into the Acacia ICT Training Centre and Library. The internet and secretarial services offered at the internet café will still be provided. However, the main focus will be to provide ICT trainings and library facilities to local students in addition to separate trainings for the overall community. The goal is for them to improve their computer and English skills, increase their knowledge and feel inspired to explore the information the internet can offer. With this, Fontes seeks funding of NOK 63’334 to be able to commence construction in 2016. The amount will be used to initiate activities at the centre as described in the 12-month budget provided below.

Acacia ICT Training Centre and Library - Budget

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Agnes KampireNext Generation of ICT Education – Funding Appeal

Norwegian Expertise for an Additional Safe Water Project

by Michael Pletscher on 09/12/2015 No comments

As part of his bachelor thesis in mechanical engineering, the Norwegian Frank Larsen is designing a new safe water system for a fishing village on Nsadzi Island in Lake Victoria. Thus, Frank was accompanying a Fontes team on an 8-day follow-up field trip to the QENP in South-Western Uganda, where he became acquainted with existing Fontes water projects. Besides inspecting all the different elements of Fontes Foundation’s small piped water schemes, Frank was collecting technical and managerial information about how the systems are run by the local water committees and supported the Fontes team during their follow-up and capacity-building work. Thereafter, Frank joined the Fontes team for a two-day assessment of a prospec- tive water project on Nsadzi Island. On site, he collected data for his thesis (such as the latrine coverage, the number of people living in the village or the lake’s water quality) and he also identified potential locations of the treatment facilities.

Currently, the inhabitants of Nsadzi Island do not have access to any safe water sources and thus have to rely on (potentially contaminated) water from the lake.

Currently, the inhabitants of Nsadzi Island do not have access to any safe water sources and thus have to rely on (potentially contaminated) water from the lake.

With his knowledge as a trained electrician, Frank was a highly valuable addition to the team. Fontes Foundation would like to thank him very much for his efforts towards the organization’s work and is looking forward to the results of his thesis, which will serve as the basis for the planned implementation of the water project on Nsadzi Island. Moreover, Fontes is grateful for the good collaboration with Engineers Without Borders Nor- way, who provided financial and technical support.

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Michael PletscherNorwegian Expertise for an Additional Safe Water Project

Creating an Inspiring Learning Environment

by Agnes Kampire on 09/12/2015 No comments

Established in 2011 in the Kanungu district in Western Uganda, the Mama Barbara nursery school offers education services to young, local children. The school has received selective, financial support from Barbara Koestler from the Fontes founder family and it also carries her name. Her past contributions have enabled the school to purchase student uniforms as well as other scholastic material. Notwithstanding her involvement, it is the parents within the community who have initiated the school and who run and maintain it on a daily basis.

In its beginning, the school was operating on a rather small scale and had few students only. Over the years, however, the numbers increased substantially. This led to problems with the little space available and the school suddenly needed more than the two existing classrooms. Moreover, the parents in the community requested for a third class for the mature toddlers (top class) in addition to the ones already offered. Up until that point, the school had only one building with two classrooms, a play room and an office for the teachers. The building, which consisted of a wattle and daub structure, was old and the roof leaked. To make matters worse, in 2014, one side of the building partially collapsed.

Students of the nursery school sharing a cup of porridge with their teachers.

Students of the nursery school sharing a cup of porridge with their teachers.

Given the situation, a local, community-based organization (CBO) in charge of the management of all three nursery schools in the Kanungu district requested funding for a new building with more space and firm brick walls from Fontes Foundation. Generously, Barbara donated the amount required so that the planning of a school building with three classrooms as well as an office for the teachers could begin.

Construction, which was taken up in mid-March, has been finalized by late September and the building has already been in use since then. Fontes Foundation is happy to report that the construction was highly successful not only due to the financial and technical advice provided but also thanks to the good collaboration with the community. The parents as well as the CBO have worked hard for the project’s success by providing manpower, contributing to the transport of the materials, supervising the entire process as well as for submitting the ac- countability of the project’s funds. Owing to its solid way of construction, Fontes expects the new building to be of great use for numerous years to come.

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Agnes KampireCreating an Inspiring Learning Environment

Is There A Future for Ugandan Youth Entrepreneurs?

by Michael Pletscher on 09/12/2015 No comments

Since its establishment in early 2012, more than 240 students have graduated from the Potentiam Youth Development Centre (PYC). According to the results of the latest baseline study (cf. PYC Annual Report 2014), the centre is effectively fighting youth unemployment with slightly more than half of the job-seeking core course graduates having been successful within 6 months of graduation. Surprisingly though, the job-seeking students make up the overwhelming majority of the graduates (72%) while the rest is evenly split between students who took up additional educational training (14%) and those that started their own business (14%). Considering that the rationale behind the core course is to specifically prepare the students for entrepreneurial activities and that 90% of the graduates surveyed in an earlier version of the baseline study (cf. PYC Annual Report 2013) stated running their own start-up as a major goal, this leaves one wondering why the share of entrepreneurs among the PYC graduates is so low. In my opinion, this is due to a number of factors.

To start with, one fact to consider is that the target group of the PYC is coming from a disadvantaged and comparatively poor background. Therefore, they lack the initial capital necessary to implement the business plan which they presented as the final examination at the end of the course. Even though it was already suggested in the youth centre assessment study in 2011, Fontes Foundation has so far not been able to directly provide its graduates with funding due to financial constraints of our youth development programme.

Another reason is that even though the young people receive a lot of training in relevant business skills at the youth centre during the six-month core course, this is hardly enough to prepare them for the individual challenges they are inevitably facing once they decide to put their business plans into practice. Those early-stage challenges – as well as the numerous ones coming up further down the line – could have a demotivating effect on the students as they feel ‘left alone’ with their individual problems.

Last but not least, there is a general perception in Ugandan society that becoming employed is preferable to opening up one’s own business. Employment is considered a “safe bet” whereby money is flowing in quickly and regularly. Founding a start-up on the other hand is considered a more risky endeav- our that normally goes in line with limited revenues in the start-up phase and whereby higher revenues only occur in the medium- or long-run. This substantially reduces the attractive- ness for the youth predominantly looking for quick money.

To tackle the first reason of the low self-employment rate of PYC graduates, Fontes Foundation has developed a project proposal for a micro-finance programme at the youth centre. The idea is to provide the graduates with urgently needed start-up capital in the form of a loan at an affordable interest rate, the full amount of which has to be paid back into the scheme within a pre-defined period of time. This will ensure that the micro-finance project can grow over time in order for it to be able to provide funds to more and more youth-run businesses in the future. At a later point in time, it might even develop into an independent micro-finance institution.

To provide the necessary entrepreneurial guidance to the PYC graduates, Fontes Foundation included a Business Advisory Service (BAS) into its proposal for a recruitment hub at the youth centre. This BAS is proposed to be implemented with an office at the centre so that it can advice the students on their individual business plans or on already established business. This should reduce some of the insecurity of opening a business for the youth as they know that they will receive some guidance and that they are not alone in their endeavour to become successful business men or women.

On top of that, further emphasis should be placed on pointing out the advantages and opportunities of being self-employed during the applied business skills and personal development classes at the youth centre. In a rapidly growing developing country like Uganda with a youth unemployment rate of above 60% (“Lost Opportunity? Gaps in Youth Policy and Programming in Uganda”, ActionAid (Ed.), 2012, p. 27) and a very limited job availability in the formal sector, self-employment is a viable and very attractive alternative to formal employment as there are countless business opportunities waiting to be exploited by these young people. In addition, setting up their own business provides the youth with the possibility to grow and to employ additional people, thereby contributing much more profoundly to society than by just going into employment.

Both the planned micro-finance scheme as well as the Business Advisory Service are still in the fundraising phase and therefore not confirmed projects as of now. However, it is Fontes Foundation’s belief that real and sustainable economic development in Uganda can only come from within, spearheaded by a strong private sector. Giving the youth an opportunity to establish their own businesses will have a big and long-lasting impact on the development of the private sector in the country and will benefit the youth and society at large.

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Michael PletscherIs There A Future for Ugandan Youth Entrepreneurs?

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