Back to Gulu part two: Annual Trustees Meeting

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Gulu Disabled Persons Union Offices

Gulu Disabled Persons Union Meeting

After our visits to business enterprises in Gulu, Paicho, Acet and Koch Li, our meeting in Gulu with GDPU included the Chairman of the Board, the Treasurer the GDPU Co-ordinator and the Project Officer.

It was a genuinely productive discussion about what we have all learned so far and where the ETC@GDPU project might go next.

GDPU is keen to set up again as a training hub for Persons with Disability, this will not only provide a route to sustainability for trainees, but bring an income in for the institution itself

Sample Cash Book from a Training Session
Sample Cash Book from a Training Session

Investment: Literacy and numeracy, sustainability and habituation

As we saw in our field visits, groups and individuals need to understand how and why to invest in their own businesses (and how to search for other forms of funding) if they are to develop and to reach their sustainable aim. What holds them back?:

  • Low literacy and numeracy skills are one element. Few, despite training and support, have working record books/ records to help analyse success and aid planning; although there is far more to this issue than that. If all transactions are very small amounts of unrecorded cash, it dissapears quickly.

    Business Training 2
    Business Training
  • Low self-esteem is certainly part of the mix.

    Camera 360
    Store keeping
  • Life events; it is a vulnerable and precarious life with no safety margins. Common events like a bout of malaria for instance or a family funeral, will wipe out any savings instantly. Insecurity is rampant, if you are successful someone will prey on you, if you are unsuccessful, even more so.

    Rwot Aye Twero discussing the future
    Members of Rwot Aye Twero Sweater weaving group discussing the future
  • The familiar problem of what you could call ‘habituation’. Beneficiaries who have been through constant development cycles often expect that someone else, i.e. ‘The Whites’, will just turn up and give them the money they want to solve short term problems or give them materials that can be sold for money. After all this is what has happened in the past, and most vulnerable people in these circumstances expect the pattern to repeat, so they wait for it. For example, the constant poor electricity supply badly affects mobile phone repairers. A portable solar system would solve these problems for the Gulu PWDs enterprise, but some members refuse to pay anything towards it and all of their income has more or less collapsed.
Training Session at GDPU resized
Conflict Resolution Training Session at GDPU

Habituation and financial support for groups

The’ habituation’ challenge has been built in our programme planning. The new trustees asked whether we should we be providing capital funds for groups. It is a legitimate question but we have never done this in the past, deliberately. ETC of PWD has always believed that it is skills training, support and monitoring that make the difference, cash and materials handouts cause more short and long term problems than they solve. The GDPU board firmly agreed on this point, they stated quite strongly that it would be better to:

  • Link the groups with existing structures
  • Help them to fill in forms to access other funding; local and government grants for PWDs do exist.
  • Develop confidence in themselves.
Ocholar Stephen and Okwonga Charles at their work station 2
Ocholar Stephen and Okwonga Charles at their work station outside Gulu Main Market

If GDPU is to become a training hub again, what courses should it run?

A productive discussion about which courses would be most suitable, particularly noting the difference for urban/ rural training needs; market requirements are different between Gulu and outlying areas.

Electronics/ phone repair?

Although a popular course with students it is high risk. Changing technology means that people increasingly use smart phones, they are harder to repair than the simple feature phone on which previous students were trained; current and future PWD enterprises will be left out of this market. Lots of expensive software and hardware is needed, the expenses and demands will only get greater as technological complexity increases. Training in smart phone repair is currently beyond the potential of available trainers to offer and of any small institution to support, and will not get any easier.

MCRM in the country
MCRM in the country, members of Lubanga Lakica with Ongom Simon (Councillor and Chairman of GDPU Board)

Courses with different modules offering students the ability to diversify

For example, future skills training for motor cycle repair and maintenance (MCRM) workers going out to the villages should include: training in small motors eg: slashing machines; generators; milling machines etc. Whereas urban MCRM trainees will need to know how to mend a range of bikes (eg Yamaha) that are increasingly common in town but which never get out into the country.

Jokene from Tam Anyim working on a Bajaj Boxer and Yahama 125 at the same time
Jokene from Tam Anyim working on a Bajaj Boxer and Yahama 125 at the same time

Peer to peer training/ On the Job training and training others.

It was noticeable, visiting groups in the field recently, that many of the members were training other youth. This raises a series of questions:

  • What is the quality of the training that these peer trained trainees receive?
  • In the future should GDPU give training modules on training the trainer?
  • Should the project officer be monitoring the quality of peer to peer training?
Joining a sweater using a machine, after training.
Joining a sweater using a machine, after training. Notice the two broken sweater weaving machines in the background.

Conclusion: pilot training courses –

It was agreed that it would be a good idea to develop and run a pilot in 2 areas, which could also make for relatively even gender coverage. It was agreed that GDPU should focus on developing training programmes for:

  1. Motor cycle repair and maintenance/ agricultural and small machinery with suitable training in diversity for students from town and country
  2. Knitting /tailoring and upcycling with a very strong focus on diversifying away from the sweater weaving machines and all their associated problems.
Sweater Weaving Machine Head Acet
Sweater Weaving Machine Head, Acet

Knitting machine technician

GDPU should also try to train up a knitting machine technician for the whole area.

Peer to peer training

Modules should be developed within each core skill training programme that can begin to help trainees to deliver meaningful training to other PWDs in the future.

Project Officer Musema Faruk with Ocholar Stephen Ocholar Stephen
Project Officer Musema Faruk with Ocholar Stephen

How long should post training support last?

GDPU groups have succeeded and have lasted longer than other Youth Development Programme business groups because GDPU still has contact with them, they are family and still looked after. Six month post training support on the earlier YDP programme was too short; ECT has supported post YDP business groups for over two years and it is only now starting to bear fruit. So any future training programmes must involve long post training support proposals.

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GDPU Co-Ordinator, Ojok Patrick with Akera Robert

Next Steps

Ongoing support for existing groups

ETC @GDPU agreed to continue low level support to all existing groups (Phase 1 and 2), support tailored to each group. Faruk is still the person who is in contact and has the guidance experience. ETC can just about fund this from existing resources.

GDPU proposal

GDPU to provide a proposal and further discussion on the resources required to start the training pilot. GDPU to amend current proposals to develop programme and costings

MCRM in Paicho
Motorbike repair in Paicho

Loans and grants

ETC trustees will try to carry out fundraising for these new courses and will research possible future funding streams and how to apply for them.

Safeguarding

The meeting finished with further reminders of the importance of safeguarding beneficiaries, staff and all those who might be vulnerable and that come into contact with GDPU.

GDPU Offices 2

How have they been pushing on at GDPU?

Jokene Geoffry of Tam Anyim Youth Entereprise working on his business plan
Jokene Geoffry of Tam Anyim Youth Enterprise working on his business plan

Any further sporting achievements to celebrate?

Members of Gulu PWDs electronics went to the national competition in Mbarara in September with great results.

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Ocira Richard

Ocira Richard, a member of the group, won the National Wheelchair 100 metres in Mbarara and has now gone to Berlin to represent Uganda in the Wheelchair Marathon, the first ever Ugandan to represent his country in this way; we all wish him the very best!

Ocholar Stephen July 1
Ocholar Stephen with Musema Faruk (ETC@GDPU Project Officer)

We are also very happy to see that Musema Faruk’s (the ETC@GDPU Project Officer) work coaching children in inclusive disability sports has been recognized. He has been shortlisted for Arsenal, WorldRemit Coaching Programme launched last month to offer local coaches from across Africa a place on a training camp with Arsenal’s Schools coaches in London; all the very best for that too Faruk!

In other news, Enhancing the Capacity of Persons with Disability (ETC of PWD), the umbrella group that includes the ETC@GDPU project, has now been fully registered as a charity in the UK. Which means of course, that once HMRC have finally approved our financial status as a charity we can start looking for funding; expect all sorts of demands soon. The Charities Commission have asked that we make each part of the programme clearly separate, so a new ETC of PWD website will be appearing in the near future.

GDPU Phase Two youth groups during the Business plan training
Phase Two youth groups during the Business Plan training at GDPU

What else has been happening at Gulu Disabled Persons Union?

After the evaluation of the successful ETC@GDPU pilot phase we all decided that:

  1. the project and its aims were worthwhile,
  2. that Gulu Disabled Persons Union (GDPU) should continue to keep an eye on the existing pilot phase groups
  3. GDPU should look to the past Youth Development Programme groups to find more young persons with disability in Gulu and district who would benefit from support in their businesses.
GDPKW SWEATER KNITTING ENTERPRISE (4)
Gulu Disabled Persons Knitting Workshop

We are now properly into Phase 2 of the ETC@GDPU Programme, Musema Faruk, the ETC@GDPU project Officer has found four groups:

  • Gulu Disabled Persons Knitting workshop
  • Hope for Disabled Girls (hairdressing)
  • Lubanga Lakija (Motor cycle repair and maintenance)
  • Tam Anyim (Motor cycle repair and maintenance)

And two individual enterprises:

  • Ocholar Stephen (Electronics)
  • Oloya Kenneth (Electronics)
Members of lubanga lakica Enterprise Developing their Business plan
Members of Lubanga Lakica Enterprise developing their Business Plan

Faruk has now worked with each one to find out what they want to do to improve their businesses and what skills they would like to improve, found new trainers where appropriate and assessed the level of support each enterprise will need.

As Phase 2 begins, he has worked with them on their financial structures, Ojok Patrick (Project Leader and GDPU co-ordinator) has worked with them all on group structures and conflict resolution. Courses have been delivered on literacy, numeracy and sanitation. As before, this support will continue for the next eight months.

House rules and expectations for all participants
House rules and expectations for all participants during training

Business Plan Training

The usual conversations about facilitation (money for attending a session) with participants, we realise that members find difficulties with transport and time training is not time spent earning: “I spend my day here how will I survive in the evening?”

Discussion on how to make a record book according to their knowledge
Discussion on how to make a record book according to their knowledge

As Faruk says: “With facilitation, members are active, without they are dormant”. But we also know that if people are given money to attend then they do not take up the skills on offer, they feel that by merely attending they have earned their money. So, the current process is to give money for transport and lunch and then it all depends on the quality of the training to inspire the activity of the participants. As an experiment, each member is given 5 thousand shillings by Faruk for facilitation but of that, 1 thousand must go into the group account to get into the idea that each must contribute from their own funds.

The members coped with the business template. They brainstormed in their groups. It is better for them to do the plan as part of their training and so now they have a working business plan for their group.

Business Plan Training
Business Plan Training

They have already carried out record keeping workshops and been given a book, a calendar and a calculator and they had drawn up their record books themselves to their own specifications.

Carrying out Financial Literacy training one week later allowed Faruk to find out their knowledge and he now knows the gaps and what kind of training each group needs and so can put together a training plan for each group.

Hope for Disabled Girls
Hope for Disabled Girls

So far, Faruk feels that the group needing the most support will be Hope for Disabled Girls: “this youth enterprise consisted of 7 females, their plans for a kiosk in a strategic location were denied by Pece Division Authorities which left the enterprise members stranded. The enterprise still lacks many of qualities and skills needed to operate successfully in the community. ETC@GDPU will try to mentor them to a level that they can become sustainable and strong.”

Oloya Kenneth at his workshop 2
Oloya Kenneth at his workshop

The strongest enterprise is probably Aloya Kenneth who is an ambitious, hardworking and skilful young man with thriving business in a good location, support will mostly be for extra skills training and how to find sources of investment.

There is a full breakdown and assessment of each Phase 2 group here.

Rwot Aye Twero Phase 2 July 3
Training at Rwot Aye Twero

And how are the Pilot Phase Groups pushing on?

Rwot Aye Twero Knitting Group

They are in Acet Trading Centre, a hard to reach area in Omoro District. This enterprise has two members who are actively knitting sweaters, although they still have gaps that need to be filled. In particular, joining the sweaters they have knitted and also making open sweaters as they are a design which is more marketable in their area.

Rwot Aye Twero Phase 2 July 1
Mama Cave training at Rwot Aye Twero

The group has identified an instructor they trust and she has started training them in gaps they have. The ETC@GDPU project supported 50% of the training, ETC project supported 50% because of the cost sharing policy of the project, which is aimed at involvement of the teams to register a sustainable development for the enterprise.

Meeting With Nyeko Rach Hairdressers Acet 5
Nyeko Rach Hairdressers, Acet

Nyeko Rach

Hairdressers group, also in Acet. They are doing well, they call every week for transporting chemicals as there is no shop there. They are very active and every week a car is sent with materials for them.

Gulu PWDs Electronics July 4
Gulu PWDs Electronics at work

PWD electronics

Charles from PWD electronics is still getting training from former PWD Electronics member Akira Robert, in fact whoever wants more knowledge can attend open training with him on Monday and Thursday. Akira Robert is eager to support his fellows and always keeps to time.

People have confidence with all of them, they don’t see their disability just people who can repair. Ocira Richard has not got his software yet, he is very active in his sport

Customers waiting for their appliances They do repair in the presence of their customers
Customers waiting for their appliances; They repair in the presence of their customers

More sport?

They participated in a marathon that was organized by Omoro District local government in celebrating the world population day. The winner of the marathon was Ocira Denis who received a Blanket and a Tailoring Machine and the second runner up was Ojara Denis who also received a blanket. Although they still haven’t sorted out their book keeping yet.

Back to Gulu: Pilot Phase Evaluation

 

GDPU Offices 2
Gulu Disabled Persons Union Offices, looking towards the road

Recently, at Gulu Disabled Persons Union itself, we sat down with Ojok Patrick (Gulu Disabled Persons Union co-ordinator and ETC at GDPU Project Leader) and Musema Faruk (ETC at GDPU Project Officer) to discuss the end of the Pilot Phase. From a snowy UK and temperatures well into the minus to 37 degrees in dusty Gulu, Northern Uganda, but it was wonderful to be back with the team.

 

 

The Donor Board at GDPU
Musema Faruk at the donor board at GDPU

The basic aim of the ETC project is twofold:

  1. To ensure the sustainability of those businesses set up by disabled students under the earlier Youth Development Programme. Experience on that programme had taught us that hard inputs (cash, materials, machines etc) were unproductive, students needed skills training, psycho social support, monitoring and guidance far more.
  2. To help GDPU become a business hub for people with disability in the area, through gaining new knowledge, skills and materials from the external experts/consultants contracted to support ETC, and through making a workable development plan.
Musema Faruk and Mary Bennell outside GDPU 3
Musema Faruk and Mary Bennell outside GDPU

When we sat down to look back at the pilot project and last six months or more, we wanted to think about the two outcomes of the project and certain issues in particular:

Outcome 1: Working with ex- YDP students

  • Did the initial assumptions about planning the project work, ie that beneficiaries would know best what sort of training and support they needed.
  • Had the subsequent skills training and support been successful?
  • What does success look like and had the four groups we had chosen for the pilot achieved it?
  • And most importantly: what next?

Outcome 2: GDPU Business Hub

  • Had GDPU managed to start writing a business plan for themselves
  • Had people at GDPU developed their own skills so that they could train others? If so in which areas and which still need development?
  • And of course; what next here as well?

 

GDPU Offices from the road
GDPU Offices from the road

This first meeting was just to get everything going, the next step was to go out to the field. To meet the four pilot groups again, to see how they were doing in Gulu Town and Acet. Then we would get together again to discuss what we had seen and to work on the Pilot Evaluation report that had been prepared by a local consultant. All that in the next blog.

Acholi Road Gulu
Off to the field: Acholi Road, Gulu

Next Steps: ETC@GDPU in October; why fixing the gaps matters and more excitement from Gulu PWD Athletes

The start of the wheelchair road race, Kampala

Breaking News

As I was writing this report, Faruk (the ETC@GDPU project officer) emailed us to say that Gulu PWD Athletes have been in the national news again, this time for a major wheelchair marathon.

On 12th November, two members of the ETC@GDPU pilot group: Gulu PWD Electronics, competed in the MTN and UAF Wheelchair and Tricycle 10km road race in Kampala. It was a nail biting finish, after leading the pack Ocira Richards was only beaten into second place because he came off at the last bend in very slippery conditions, Okwonga Charles also finished well, coming fifth. You can read more about the race here; our heartiest congratulations to them both; first and second places next year we hope!

The start of the 10k wheelchair road race, Kampala

Next Steps for October: Training News, ‘fixing the gaps’ and future planning

Highlights of the month

  • Analysis of the Reflection Meeting in September leads to extra business training for pilot groups.
  • Further evidence that the pilot programme has worked and members income has increased
  • Monthly follow up activities and decisions to make about the future
The ETC@GDPU Project Officer Fact Finding in Acet

Training in Business Management and Book Keeping/Record Keeping

The recent training programme at the ETC@ GDPU project shows the importance of ‘reflection’ meetings with the people you are training. After those meetings in September the ETC@GDPU Project Officer realised that one of the most important areas identified as gaps needed attention.

Where was that gap?

It was in Basic Book Keeping and Business Management

Why does that matter?

Unsuccessful training in business management and record keeping was one of the areas that caused poor sustainability amongst the earlier YDP youth enterprises.

Why?

Because they failed to analyse their profit margin, members didn’t know how much they were spending on materials and because they didn’t keep other records for their businesses, they didn’t know how much money, if any, they were making. Therefore, members didn’t know which areas of their business were successful or unsuccessful. The young enterprises cannot plan, develop or even understand their own business without such basic information.

Reflection Meeting in Gulu

Aim of the extra support training

to help strengthen and develop the business enterprise by the end of November.

What did ETC@GDPU do?

GDPU Identified KENVIC CONSULTANCY Firm and the expertise of the GDPU accountant to train these youth in areas of Business Management and Book Keeping/Record Keeping.

Business Management Training

The training was conducted successfully in Omoro Acet Centre and Gulu Municipality targeting 4 members of NYEKO RAC HAIRDRESSING AND COSMETOLOGY, 2 members of RWOT AYE TWERO YOUTH ENTERPRISE and 6 Members of GULU PWDS ELECTRONICS REPAIR & MAINTENANCE. Trainings were conducted on Friday 20th 10 2017 at Acet Centre and Tuesday 24th 10 2017 in the Gulu office.

Business Management Training

Results

This extra training was beneficial to the four business enterprises, under the ETC pilot project they have now learnt how to manage finance and take records for their daily expenses and sales. The four groups were provided with a simplified book of accounts and were trained on how use them. Members were encouraged to design and enter their income and expenses and calculate their profit at the end of the month. They can now make a record book indicating income column and expense in local language that might actually be used, unlike the complex written English based systems they had ignored before.

Business Management Training

Village Saving and Loans Associations

Saving pass books were given to Gulu PWDS electronic and Nyeko Rac enterprise to help them improve on their VSLA.

Hairdressers in Acet

Monthly follow-up activities at Acet centre, Omoro District: Nyeko Rac and Rwot aye Twero youth enterprise

The ETC@GDPU project officer followed two youth enterprises based in Odek sub county Omoro District, checking on their progress in skills training and progress in work.

Business skills

Business plan for two groups were completed successfully, each member has clearly understood the purpose of having a business plan, how to follow plans and strategies and to make their enterprise out-compete their competitors.

Increased income?

According to the assessment of the youth enterprise there is an increase in income generation compared to assessments made before the start of the project. Members of Nyeko Rac Hairdressing enterprise have recorded increase in their income:

Before the project started daily income was (0-5000 shillings) and now most members agree that the list range per day is 5000-10,000 shillings and during market days (every Wednesday) they make 10-30,000 shillings. This income increase is because of improved skills in plaiting, record keeping, customer care and business management; fixing the gaps appears to be working for them.

Issues for Rwot Aye Twero

Rwot Aye Twero enterprise have had training problems. Initially GDPU contracted a knitting and tailoring instructor to train the youth twice week, but continued absenteeism by that instructor (who stays 4km from the Centre) meant that the youth did not get sufficient training to improve the quality of their products and therefore get more customers. They have received some trained in knitting V-shape sweaters, but were not trained in joining sweaters using a sewing machine, because they don’t have any machine for training.

GDPU Sweater Weavers

Follow up at Gulu Municipality: Gulu PWDs Electronics

Skills trainings was conducted every Tuesday and Thursday from 8:00 am to 12:00pm for electronic group. They were trained in Radio, TV and Phone repair and have greatly improved their level of income and confidence.

ETC@GDPU pilot provided a digital meter to Gulu PWD electronic to improve on their work, in order to capture more profit.

Gulu PWDs, Electronics and Repair: repairing a phone.

Development at GDPU itself

The GDPU coordinator and ETC@GDPU project officer have worked at improving publicity at the organization. They have redesigned the organization sign post showing all partners’ organization at the union, improved on flow of the main reception and the business office. Office signs were put in each office door and currently they are working towards developing the GDPU Business plan.

a YDP Gala at GDPU

Way Forward

Training for PWDs electronic in repair of electronic appliances is ongoing up to 19th November 2017.

GDPU will continue to follow up the youth enterprises, supporting them in areas in which they face challenges, guidance/ counselling programs and life skills until the project is evaluated by the funders and new plans are agreed.

GDPU will engage on Skype with the funders to look for the way forward for the greater project.

Next Steps: ETC@GDPU in September

Spectators at the 2017 National Disability Sports Gala in Gulu

Highlights of the month

  • Gulu PWDs Electronic and other members of Gulu Wheelchair Basketball Team took part in a National Sport Gala for Persons with Disabilities organized by Uganda Paralympic Committee and won! See this earlier post.
  • Members taking part in ETC@GDPU report significant increase in income as a result of their training
  • An in-depth Reflection Meeting will really help us all evaluate what has worked in the pilot project, and what has not, and where to go from here.
Reflection Meeting in Gulu

Skills Training Report

The ETC@GDPU project officer followed up recent trainings in Omoro and Gulu, to ensure that the pilot business enterprises are building their capacities in areas such as:

  • Business plan development,
  • Skills training
  • Conflict management and resolution.

The youth are now actively participating in the training programme and 75% are reporting that their levels of income are increasing because:

  1. Their area of coverage has increased
  2. They can now repair more things compared to when they started project.

The training program is running up to the end of October and the GDPU project officer is following up to ensure that they are getting the required skills and that relevant knowledge is imparted

Hairdressing Training in Acet

Hairdressing at Acet

Five members of Nyeko Rac Hairdressing and Salon at Acet Centre are trained in areas they need. These are:

  • pencil plaiting
  • styling and twisting hair
  • dread locks
  • free hand.

Savings are being made among members of Nyeko Rach hairdressing,

Conflicts are being resolved among members

Challenges

  • Some materials for hairdressing are now available at Nyeko Rac Hair Beauty Salon at Acet, although lack of material for weaves, chemicals etc
Gulu PWDs Electronics and Repair, Training at GDPU, Gulu

Gulu Pwds Electronic

The ETC@GDPU project officer has reported before about difficulties with Gulu PWDs, their lack of cohesion as a group, their disinterest in saving money and in training for anything but phone repair.

Training is going on for two months from 11th September to 19th November 2017, aimed at addressing problems areas where they feel they face difficulties:

  • Discovered the use of charcoal stove for soldering gargets such as Radio, TV, phones etc
  • Changing/repair of mouth piece, charging system and screens
  • Discovered the alternative for Blower Machine by using candle when there is no electricity

Challenges

  • The training program was affected by the National Sports Gala which took place from 25th to 30th September 2017.
  • Village savings and loan association (VSLA) is not active among Gulu PWDS electronics members although they attended training for VSLA
  • Business location for PWD electronic is neither favourable or easily accessible, it is hard for them to keep customers appliances because they operate their business in a corridor.
  • Some phones are complicated to repair, spare parts are not available for most bought in the area, especially Chinese phones.
  • Unlike their business competitors they lack software to unlock phones
  • Business is not growing for electronics
  • Limited knowledge and skills on other electronic appliances such TV, Radio, DVD players, Smart Phones and Amplifiers
  • Customer demand lower prices than are viable
Akera Roberts, Individual Business Enterprise, Electronics and Repair, Gulu

Akera Roberts

Radio repair is doing well for Akera Robert, Rubanga Na Electronics business plan was successfully developed and completed by Akera Robert and GDPU project officer

Challenge

  • Security for his place of work is still an issue, Akera Robert still operates under the veranda
Akello Catherine and Florence are being trained in making V necked sweaters

Knitting and Sweater Weaving

Sweater weaving is doing well, they get contracts from schools and local community members. Support training is aimed at improving their quality of work and building customers trust, training area for knitting is:

  • joining using sewing machine
  • making V shape sweater
  • designing sweaters.
Learning to Make V Necked Sweaters, A customer checking on his newly made garment

Challenge

  • High-level absenteeism from the instructor for knitting and sweater weaving might be affecting the positive development of the programme.
  • Customers take long to pick their items
  • Customer demand lower prices than are viable

 

Reflection Meeting

Conducted by GDPU project officer and ETC and Project Coordinator GDPU to check on the impact of ETC project in Gulu and Omoro District.

What has worked?

The local community attitude towards PWDs is that they are best known for leather work. Yet as this and the YDP proved, they are able to do other income generating activities such hairdressing, motorcycle repair, electronic repair and maintenance.

  • Skills training has improved the ‘offer’ of all the business groups
  • Active in repair of electronic gadgets, hairdressing and sweater weaving, i.e. businesses are growing although some are slower than others.
  • Record keeping is now observed in all enterprises, learnt how to balance books of account because of financial literacy received during the ETC project.
  • Learnt to communicate effectively with customers, most of the youth enterprise members had bad communication skills that made them lose customers but the capacity building trainings offered by the ETC@GDPU project has improved this aspect.
  • Learnt how to deal with large number of customers, greatly improved customer services by use of first come first serve.
Reflection Meeting Gulu

Challenges: Solutions and the Way Forward

The reported rise in members incomes is very welcome, how can we continue this increase? Which parts of the programme are working and what do we need to do to improve them as part of the pilot programme and for future programme planning? Diversification and widening the ‘offer’ of each group, further investigation into sources of investment and increasing the self-confidence of members could all play a part. As could:

  • Linking the enterprise to other service providers available in their location
  • Having a by law on mandatory savings
  • Inclusion saving for disabled and non-disabled
  • Continuous follow-up and support from GDPU project staff
  • Further tailor-made refresher training in specific areas e.g. Repair of modern phones, TV radio etc
  • More advertising using posters
  • Enterprise members to carry out market survey to check on the prices of commodities and services to be comparable with other enterprises and avoid over pricing.

    GDPU Co-ordinator Conducting the Reflection Meeting

Apologies

Apologies for the late posting of this months news, also we (the UK founders of ETC@GDPU) had  hoped to be flying out to Gulu at the end of this month to discuss and evaluate the pilot phase and how to move on to the full project. Sadly, Mark was involved in a motorbike accident in the UK just weeks before departure. Although he will be OK his mobility is restricted for a few months. Ironically Mark clocked up 12,000 kilometres on a motorbike around Gulu and district with only a few bumps and scrapes, riding in the UK is far more dangerous. If you are a car driver, please look properly before you pull out of a side road! However we hope to carry on the project development by Skype in the next few months and return to Gulu in February.

The safer roads in Gulu District!

 

Next Steps: ETC @ GDPU in August

Project Officer Faruk Musema working in Acet

During August, the ETC @ GDPU Project Officer and Project Leader followed up on business plan development, record keeping and conflict management making sure that they were being implemented by each business enterprise. A busy training programme continued and proposed activities for September look equally focused.

Village Savings and Loan Association pilot training session at Acet centre, Omoro District, August 2017

Training

Skills training were offered in Hairdressing, Electronic Repair and Maintenance and Knitting & Sweater Weaving in Omoro Acet Centre and Gulu Municipality targeting 4 members of NYEKO RAC HAIRDRESSING AND COSMETOLOGY, 2 members of RWOT AYE TWERO KNITTING and 6 Members of GULU PWDS ELECTRONICS REPAIR & MAINTENANCE.

Training: Village Savings and Loan Associations 

Trainings in Village Savings and Loan Associations (micro finance) were carried out. VSLA pass books were distributed to the saving groups created by each enterprise to encourage the culture of savings in their enterprise.

Training: Conflict Resolution

Training in Group Dynamics under Conflict Resolutions was carried out in Acet.

Group Dynamics under Conflict Resolution Training in Acet, August 2017

Challenges

But as the initial stages are completed, challenges were registered by the project officer during his visits. These were: poor attendance; high expectation for money (Especially refusal to attend meetings without payment see Sitting Fees below)); difficult attitudes; skills gaps; luck of trust from customers etc.

Challenges: Gulu

These challenges were particularly noticeable in Gulu, with high levels of absenteeism, lack of commitment to customers and work, lack of skills in: radio; TV; video decks; speakers; computer repairs. Members only specialise in phone repair which does not bring in enough income. Finding a qualified instructor to train Gulu PWDs in electronic repair and maintenance has not yet been resolved.

Akera Roberts, Individual Business Enterprise on the pilot programme, Gulu.

Although the Project Officer suggested their fellow disabled electrician (Akera Robert), who has all the skills they want, members were not interested. The P O believes that there is no unity and love among PWDs in Gulu municipality, that is the reason why most of them are not successful, because of the differences amongst them.

Gulu PWDs, Electronics and Repair: repairing a phone.

Challenges: Sitting Fees

Sitting Fees (or payment for attending trainings or meetings) are a great example of the unintended consequences of well intended actions. I believe that sitting fees were originally paid during the conflict, as a means of quickly getting money directly to those who badly needed it and bypassing those who would take a substantial cut. But now, demand for sitting fees and refusal to attend without payment is a constant problem. Most NGOs refused to pay sitting fees because the payments eat up small budgets and badly distort training sessions. The people you really need to reach either refuse to turn up or invitations are issued in turn to those who have not yet been paid a fee or to those who are powerful enough to demand that they always get one. Sessions are either taken up with endless arguments as to why participants should be paid substantial sums, or on the odd occasion where fees are paid, participants leave, in body or mind, once they have been paid because they feel their work had been done; either way nothing is achieved.

Gulu PWDs Electronics and Repair, Training at GDPU, Gulu

Challenges: Solutions?

The only surprise is that the challenges for ECT @ GDPU had not begun earlier, these are all difficulties that are common on any project of this type in this sort of context.

There is no simple solution, this culture (Sitting Fees especially) is deeply embedded and will take years to change. But we intend to try some of the approaches listed below and begin that process

Thinking about the simplest non-financial reward systems is an important part of the pilot programme. Actually, faced with this problem during the earlier Youth Development Programme we found that:

  • educational games
  • sport or other competitions
  • Cultural activities, eg dance and drama
  • and of course, food.

Were all good ways of bringing people to meetings and making them engage without concentrating solely on the money.

  • Regular VSLA meetings can also be a useful time to carry out training.
VSLA Training, GDPU August 2017

Challenges:  Solutions/ Communications and Mentors

Group dynamics, and communication could be the key that unlocks this door.

During the VSLA sessions it was noted that members will not take leadership roles, even just for the workshop; leadership training as part of a drive to improve self-esteem might be worth following up too.

Relationship between the groups, their customers and skills trainers (especially the Gulu PWDS) are a challenge that could be met by finding the right mentors/ role models to show members where their hard work might lead to in the future. Groups need to see why they are doing what they are doing, how the rewards are not immediate but are worth waiting for; could mentors help in that aim?

Village Savings and loan Association Training at Acet center Omoro District August 2017

Conclusion

None of the challenges noted above are unusual, they are to be expected in this context and in a project of this type. There is no need to feel downhearted, it is important to remember that this is still the pilot phase, there are still opportunities to work on many different approaches and be experimental; many exciting possibilities ahead. We must keep pushing on well!

Next Steps: ETC @ GDPU in July

The ECT @ GDPU team have been very busy in Gulu and Acet this month carrying out the first training sessions on areas of weakness identified by the pilot groups themselves. These groups included Nyeko Rac Hairdressing and Cosmetology and 6 Members of Gulu Pwds Electronics Repair & Maintenance, Rwot Aye-Twero and Kica Pa Rwot Knitting group and some of the students studying at GDPU  also attended the trainings in business plan development and conflict resolution in group dynamics.

July Training in Acet 3
Prayers before training begins

It is great to see that the training given directly reflects the needs identified in earlier months. Although this is a pilot, it is reassuring to see that the activities reported for July are all focused on building the participants abilities to sustain their own future.

 

July Training in Gulu
Record Keeping Training in Gulu

As a pilot phase the July report raises questions, but these concern methods of delivery rather than direction of travel; in particular:

  • Group and personal dynamics are going to be the crucial element for these participants as they establish their sustainable future (low self-esteem is an important factor to work on) .
  • Core Skills: Building up core vocational skills alongside developing knowledge about basic business procedures is a slow process with constant reappraisal

    Sweater Weaving Training 2
    Sweater Weaving Training; updating core skills
  • Memory: during the pilot, facilitators and the project team will working on the best ways for students to develop what they already know, to learn new things and most importantly, to remember what they have learnt and apply it as part of a long term process. Classes are conducted in Acholi (the local language) and texts are translated, using local knowledge; stories and culture will help ground what is learnt.
  • Absenteeism: a major difficulty with frequent refreshers is frequent absenteeism, so the Gulu team will be concentrating on follow up support in the workplace rather than in the classroom.

    July Training in Gulu 3
    July Training in Gulu at GDPU
  • Mentors: The team in Gulu are looking to find role models who can talk about their enterprises to motivate members. These role models will also become part of the network that students can use on their own for further learning through mentorship, and of course students will become mentors in their own right as the project develops.
  • Numeracy/ Literacy: low skills in this crucial area are already holding students back, work on record keeping/ planning will demand more work on numeracy and literacy as the project develops.

    Record Keeping Training in Gulu
    Record Keeping Training in Gulu

Lastly, some other routes to sustainability, identified in the project proposals and initial audit, will be further emphasized as time goes on:

  • Diversification as a survival mechanism, so that if one aspect of the enterprise temporarily fails there are others that will keep it afloat;
  • The role of Village Savings and Loans Associations as a ‘pull factor’: keeping group members together and the single activity around which other group activities revolve. However the group numbers in our pilots are small, eg Gulu PWD electronics 6 members, and Nyeko Rac group in Odek are 5 members. As they have suggested that they need training on VSLA to increase their savings, ECT @ GDPU will support the groups in this area, perhaps joining with other interested colleagues to make a total of 10 members at minimum. VSLA groups usually meet on weekly basis to deposit savings and we think this could be a motivating factor to work harder, so that you have some saving each week.

    July Training in Acet
    July Training in Acet

The Future

The project team in Gulu have obviously realised these difficulties and factored in a series of follow up sessions across the range of areas identified. It will be exciting to see how these develop. Activities for August include: training in conflict resolution and group dynamics at Acet Centre; skills training in Hairdressing covering areas of Styling, Pencil, dreadlocks etc; training in electronic repair and maintenance in areas of radio, TV, phones and DVD players etc in Gulu Municipality. A busy and productive month to come: pushing on well indeed!

July Training in Gulu 4
July Training in Gulu at GDPU