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    Ugandans join league of great brains

    Three Ugandans comprising, Abraham Temu, Edward Agaba and Abubakar Musuuza are part of the 2011-2012 league of Acumen East Africa Fellows Program. Since it was launched in July 2011, the inaugural class has been meeting to learn about the unique social change projects that each of them are implementing.
    Ugandans join league of great brains

    "The program is made up of individuals who are driving ground breaking projects with a huge social impact," said Suraj Sudhakar, the project manager for East Africa Acumen Fund Fellowship, at Cassia Lodge. "Among them are employees with businesses, public sector organisations, leading NGOs and entrepreneurs."

    The occasion marked the launch of The East Africa Fellows regional based learning and development initiative in Gulu. The 2011-12 group were treated to a dinner and were addressed by guests speakers, Josephine Okot of Victoria Seeds and Dr. Piwang Jalobo shed light on how entrepreneurs can be change agents.

    "There are hundreds of NGOs exist in East Africa ploughing millions of dollars in foreign assistance every year," observed Jalobo. "And yet people are still living in poverty. There is need to change gears to trigger real development in this part of the world. A new direction must be defined by a bold set of East African business, non-profit, and government leaders," asserted Jalobo."

    Josephine Okot criticized the straight jacket style of how monetary institutions in Uganda conduct their businesses and cautioned the team to be prepared to always go an extra mile.

    "More than 80 percent of the populace cannot access loans because of prohibitive requirements," lamented Okot. "And there is no monetary institution addressing their plight. It is these people who are the consumers. Unless their purchasing power is boosted, development remains a distant dream."

    Okot says she in in the process of enabling them access better seeds before she can begin adding value to their agricultural output. The Acumen program dominated by Kenyan change agents, meeting in Uganda was a plus for the hosts, as they received world-class leadership training and the tools to accelerate the progress of individual social projects. It comes in the wake of donor fatigue while identifying and training this next generation leaders who are united by a common mission of; harnessing the power of social innovation to create solutions to existing problems.

    This is the list of 2011-2012 East Africa Acumen Fellows:

    Abraham Temu - KiBO Foundation, Uganda

    Abraham is the founder and managing director of KiBO Foundation, which delivers applied ICT and leadership training programs to youth with a focus on creating work and entrepreneurial opportunities. Over 250 youth have undergone KiBO's 15 week intensive training program, and hopes to reach 200 more each year.

    Edward Agaba - Technoserve, Uganda

    Edward is a senior business advisor at TechnoServe Uganda, where he leads the "Consolidating The Gains" project, which aims to increase the incomes of smallholder farmers in south western Uganda by reducing the transaction costs along the banana value chain. The project has reached 26 000 farmers in the districts of Mbarara, Isingiro and Ntungamo in south western Uganda.

    AbubakerMusuuza - Village Energy, Uganda

    Abubaker is the co-founder and director of Village Energy, which runs energy micro-factories that utilize solar power to meet the energy needs of those without access to electricity. Currently, over 150 households use Village Energy's solar system, providing an alternative to kerosene and saving families 15-20% of their household income.

    Julio De Souza - Nuru Energy, Rwanda

    Julio is the chief operating officer of Nuru Energy, a social enterprise that produces and distributes low-cost lanterns that are rechargeable through pedal generators. Nuru Energy has 12 000 light units sold in East Africa, and aims to reach five million lights sold by 2015.

    Soiya Gecaga - "We the Change" Foundation, Kenya

    Soiya is the founder and executive director of "We The Change" Foundation, which seeks to provide early childhood education and care to children in marginalized communities. "We The Change" aims to reach 500 children by year five and develop a model of holistic education to be replicated in government schools across Kenya. Soiya has served as solicitor at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and Bates Wells & Braithwaite, and as the executive director of the Global Tribe Network (now the Global Youth Fund).

    Rachel Gichinga - Kuweni Serious, Kenya

    Rachel is the co-founder of Kuweni Serious, which is an online platform that focuses on creating a corps of everyday changemakers among young, educated, middle class Kenyans. Rachel has experience as the project manager of Penya Africa Ltd, and also as the program coordinator/producer at Rainmaker Ltd.

    Patricia Leila Jumi - GrowthAfrica, Kenya

    Patricia is the managing director of GrowthAfrica Capital, which assists small business owners and entrepreneurs grow their businesses into strong and profitable companies through mentorship, training, and patient capital. GrowthAfrica has helped over 1 500 clients, and hopes to expand their training-of-trainers program across East Africa to reach 5 000 entrepreneurs annually. Patricia has worked at Metrocomia International and also as the vice president of AIESEC Uganda.

    Charles Kalama - EcoPost, Kenya

    Charles is the founder and director of EcoPost, an integrated waste management company that utilizes waste plastic as a resource to manufacture aesthetic, durable and environmentally friendly fencing posts. EcoPost is curbing deforestation by providing an alternative to timber, recycling waste plastic, and creating jobs for the unemployed. Charles has experience as the founder and director of FinAfrika Web Creations and as an account manager with Advanced Solutions International.

    Joan Wangui Karanja - Cooperation for Fair Trade in Africa (COFTA), Kenya

    Joan is the regional director for the COFTA, which uses Fair Trade principles to promote the sustainable development of African producers into successful businesses. COFTA has registered 172 Fair Trade produces in 24 countries across Africa, and hopes to expand their capacity building, market access and advocacy programs to reach even more producers. She has experience in marketing, public relations, strategic planning, and fair trade, and is the founder of both Orchid Media Ltd and Sueno Associates.

    Irfan Keshavjee - Karibu Homes, Kenya

    Irfan is the founder and lead partner of Karibu Homes, a social enterprise that brings home ownership along with a secure, sanitary, and progressive community to low-income families. Karibu Homes hopes to build 10 000 homes and house 50 000 people per year. Irfan also co-founded Honey Care Africa, a social enterprise that has impacted over 10 000 lives. Irfan is also the director of the East Africa Film Academy, co-founder of Galu Beach Retreat, and managing director of White Rose Services.

    Johnson Kithendu - Milango, Kenya

    Johnson is the managing director of Milango Financial Services, which is a microfinance institution that provides one stop servicing for various financial and training needs. Milango has reached over 10 000 clients and given over 13 000 loans valued at $4.5 million. Johnson has worked in microfinance at the Center for International Development and Research, Faulu Kenya, and Focus Kenya.

    Wagikuyu Miring'u - Kickstart International, Kenya

    Wangikuyu is the marketing co-ordinator for Kickstart International, which aims to transform Africa from subsistence to commercial agriculture through low-cost capital equipment. Wangikuyu's role at Kickstart is to promote the "Farming is my Business" campaign, which promotes the aims to lift up the image of the farmer to be a legitimate and proud businessman.

    Stephen Mutai - JuhudiKilimo, Kenya

    Stephen is the chief accountant at JuhudiKilimo, which provides financial services to rural smallholder farmers by micro-leasing wealth generating assets, like a dairy cow. JuhudiKilimo currently has 7 000 borrowers and hopes to reach 50 000. Stephen has held various finance and accounting positions at K-Rep Bank.

    Boniface Mwangi - PichaMtaani, Kenya

    Boniface is the project director of PichaMtaani, which is a mobile photo exhibition held in towns across Kenya, showcasing photographs of the post-election violence that rocked various parts of the country in 2007/08. PichaMtaani has reached over 500 000 individuals and plans to develop an online platform that will use photography as a catalyst for social change across East Africa. Boniface has worked as a photojournalist for the Standard, and has worked as a freelancer for various media outlets.

    Joseph Nganga - Renewable Energy Ventures, Kenya

    Joseph is the CEO of Renewable Energy Ventures, which produces and distributes affordable solar lanterns. Renewable Energy Ventures has distributed over 4 000 solar lanterns and has created over 500 micro-enterprises through their retail network. Joseph has worked as a banking analyst at Bank of America, as an energy consultant at various organisations, and is chairman of the Board of Trustees at Caroline for Kibera and a consultant at InfoDev at the World Bank.

    John Wali - Junior Achievement, Kenya

    John is the executive director of Junior Achievement in Kenya, which empowers youth through hands-on programs on how to start and manage their own enterprises making them self-sufficient and economically stable. Junior Achievement in Kenya has reached over 175 000 youth and aims to deliver programs in all 7 000 public secondary schools across Kenya.

    Pauline Wanja - LIST (Living In Shanty Towns) Initiative, Kenya

    Pauline is the co-founder and executive director of the LIST (Living In Shanty Towns) Initiative, which aims to unify young people living in informal settlements and prepare them for a productive and dignified adulthood and together work toward personal, social, economic and political justice. Pauline has worked at the World Youth Alliance, Kibera Community Development Agenda, and at the Kenya Human Rights Commission. She moderated the Global Youth Against Corruption Network
    (GYACN) for a year, and she is also currently working as a youth empowerment program assistant and activista co-ordinator at ActionAid Kenya.

    About Titus Kakembo

    Titus Kakembo is a freelance journalist based in Kampala City, Uganda. He contributes to various magazines and New Vision. Titus also writes travel and business stories in addition to profiles of individual personalities. Contact Titus on moc.liamg@obmekakt.
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