A little over a month ago I returned from my observational project with The Great Generation (TGG) in Uganda. A trip that allowed me to give freely of my skills and talents because of your financial support. This blog is my update and an open letter of gratitude to those who contributed financially and emotionally to my journey to Uganda.
24% of the population in Uganda lives on less than $2 per day. They lack skills, business know-how and the market knowledge to build and sustain success and achieve significant results. What they do have is motivation and a desire for change in their lives. I was exposed to people living in basic conditions with limited access to clean water and sanitation, I got to meet ordinary people with passion and determination who have created services and infrastructure to support their communities. Personally I had the privilege of participating in a number of entrepreneurship sessions in Kampala, supporting the creation and delivery of a five day residential teaching forum in a rural district in Uganda as well as experiencing this stunning country.TGG creates experiential learning programmes to bring expensive and hard to access business expertise to communities with limited resources, to challenge and transcend norms and assumptions and to stimulate fresh thinking for future creativity. Your donation was key to ensuring that I was able go to Uganda to experience the work of TGG. The outcome is that I am now the first entrepreneurial associate eligible to support transformational leadership projects intended to enhance entrepreneurial capacity building in Uganda and in turn foster creative thinking and innovation for established multi-nationals and corporate executives.
The first week of my trip was spent working directly with a number of local partners in Kampala; many of these partners emerged from the HIV/AIDS crisis as health care centres and clinics. Although close to quarter of the population is impacted by HIV/AIDS, and in many places whole generations are decimated, the availability of retrovirals has completely changed the quality of life for patients and the new challenge is to empower people to proactively live rather than wait to die.Until recently of TGG partners were funded by charitable donations but the global recession and the introduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014 has seriously undermined cash flow. This challenge has been turned into an opportunity as TGG and their partners are now choosing to focus on sustainability, the social enterprise model, capacity building and entrepreneurship. Among other things the sessions we ran in August were used:
* to evaluate the appropriateness of a multi-national proposal for a new product pilot
* to design a new process to provide continuity of support for TGG partners
* to host a charismatic presentation from Charles Ocici, the head of Enterprise Uganda
– a weaver of sound bits and inspiriational stories
What I observed is a huge enthusiasm for the concept of entrepreneurship in the face of a charity based legacy. This is true not just for the partners and their beneficiaries but also TGG volunteers and the corporate organisations we spoke to. TGG has over 8 years of experience in Uganda and many fantastic relationships. One of the most exciting things I witnessed was the impact of putting the Ugandan head of a Teacher’s Training College in touch with Dr Hilda Mary Tadria, tge formidable Ugandan founder of a MEMPROW
, a female empowerment programme. In the space of 45 minutes these two woman, through a TGG faciliated introduction, agreed to incorporate a coaching programme for girls into the teacher’s education curriculum.
I got to see how an on the ground project nurtures leadership during the second two weeks of my trip to Uganda as I stepped in to support 12 volunteer UK teachers who travelled to Buikwe (on the shores of Lake Victoria between Kampala & Jinga) to create a 5 day residential forum for 150 local teachers. This is a particularly deprived area where teachers, schools and pupls have been underperforming.
The 1st Buikwe Teachers’ Forum
was created in 5 days. We worked directly with the Department of Education and were featured on National TV and in the Ugandan newspapers. I was able to use coaching and training skills to focus on the synergy of our team and to keep us on track to set of powerful end results. My love of structure came in handy to design a survey to collect data on the opportunities for entrepreneurship in schools so they can become self supporting and therefore inspire students to be self supporting. We had overwhelming support for the survey and receive alot of data still to be analysed. A common goal across all the schools is to provide a meal a day for the children, there was good evidence of agricultural experimentation but no overarching support or understanding of the cycle of business. The data we collected was handed over to the ASDHI
, the Ugandan partner who initiated the education forum, to decide where they to focus attention moving forwards. The forum was a huge success for everyone involved but there is a line to be walked between hand out and hand up. There are plans to run a yearly forum and the intention of TGG will be to move towards an event that is sustainable locally and is an integration of Ugandan and external expertise empowering teachers and schools to realise their potential.
I was challenged by the working environment and the ambitious goals for the three week trip but I was transformed by the passion and heart of TGG volunteers, touched by the generosity and spirit of the Ugandan people and brought to tears by the acapella farewell on our last day. One of my loves is photographic reportage and I attach a link to an album I created of the trip https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152690212714104&type=1&l=4f6f7da627
The work to do on the ground is overwhelming but I am reminded of Mother Theresa who said we cannot do great things on this earth but only small things with great love. The donations I received allowed me to pour my love into this one small project.
With love and gratitude.