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.

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    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

Back to Gulu: how has the project been pushing on?

Downtown Gulu 3
Downtown Gulu

Well, we’ve been back to Gulu again, taking two of the new trustees from ETC of PWD this time. We were bringing together the strands of the project so far and thinking about where this accumulated knowledge should take everyone involved.

There were:

  1. Visits to the field with Musema Faruk the project officer from Gulu Disabled Persons Union to see business groups from both phases of the project.
  2. Meetings with local councillors from the new district of Omorro to discuss their approach to disability and whether our project might fit into it.
  3. And a very productive meeting with GDPU members themselves, to discuss the project so far and where it might lead in the future.

Many thanks to Faruk for organising the visits, for his hard work with the groups and for supporting the evident improvements that we saw.

Chairman GDPU with Lubanga Lakica
Back to the field: Ongom Simon, the Chairman of the GDPU board with members of Lubanga Lakica Motorcycle repair group in Koch Li

Two key issues arose from our field trips:

  1. What makes a successful group and how best to support business groups to achieve that success, and what does success look like anyway
  2. What are the best vocational skills for students to learn and how specialised should they be?

And at our subsequent meeting at GDPU we all spent a long time thinking about their plans to make a training hub for future students with disability, what should be taught?

Members of lubanga lakica Enterprise Developing their Business plan
Members of Lubanga Lakica Enterprise developing their Business Plan

But each of these three questions could be reduced down to one word: sustainability. How can the hard work of the members of the business enterprises and of the members of GDPU be kept going? How can they make sure that what they are doing will earn enough to keep them and their families alive and better than alive; thriving.

Our last post mentioned success by two groups. This time perhaps, by concentrating on the work of two others we can tease out some of the implications for sustainability in their success.

Akera Roberts in Gulu and Lubanga Lakica in Koch Li

Akera Roberts Businesss Enterprise
Akera Roberts, individual Businesss Enterprise on the pilot programme, Gulu.

Akera Robert  

Is based in the centre of Gulu town and doing extremely well, has plans and enough money saved to move from his table on a veranda into new premises within 3 months. Has just sent his son to one of the top primary schools in Gulu, paid for by his own work. A real difference in aspirations this year compared to last, Akera Robert has become far more confident and has a vision of his own future far larger than we saw last year. Important to note that he focuses on electrical and solar appliances not mobile phones. He puts his success down to

Akera Robert mending a solar light 4
Akera Robert mending a solar light
  • Diversity of equipment repaired, unlike for example the Gulu PWDs enterprise who solely mend feature phones and therefore have a diminishing market, Akera’s range will only grow.
  • He has a very good reputation, particularly among people from the villages who bring their items on the bus for him to repair when they come into town
  • He is always there from 8 in the morning till dark, even when he has no work he will be at his desk, so customers know they can always find him
Lubanga Lakija 3
Members of Lubanga Lakica with the GDPU Chairman of the Board (also a councillor for the area)

Lubanga Lakica:

Based in Koch Li, a very small place on a mud road road between Koch Goma and Bobi. Koch Li is about 5 miles from the main road that passes through Koch Goma, a small town about 20 miles outside Gulu. There is not much at Koch Li, but isolation can bring benefits as well as challenges;

Benefits: in particular a lack of competition. Koch Goma is full of people mending motorcycles, but as the members of Lubanga Lakica have realised there is great market for them if they can learn how to work on the many different possible machines to repair in their area: slashing machines/ generators/ small agricultural machines etc. They have some of the skills needed, but need more. Some of the members already know how to carry out small welding repairs although they lack the machinery to do so.

Lubanga Lakija
Lubanga Lakija spares store

Challenges: security is a real problem in isolated areas, tools and anything portable or of any value will be stolen. Which means keeping spares for example, is a difficult. These mechanics have a tie up with a spares dealer in Koch Goma, but to run a proper service they need a secure container, which costs money. As is often the way, the group are reluctant to invest their own money in paying for a container, although they have negotiated a good price for one made by Mr Labongo from the disabled welders group in Gulu. As Faruk says, “They fear risk”.

Lubanga Likija tools
Lubanga Lakica tools and storage

The implications from discussions with these two businesses were twofold

  1. Trainees need different skills set to succeed in town and in out in the village, in essence urban trainees will need specific skills in greater depth and country trainees will need a very wide range of basic skills. Our Post-Training Support programmes have certainly been location specific and responded to the wishes of the beneficiaries. But, in future training institutions will have to establish where the future trainees intend to work before planning their skills training programme. It seems obvious doesn’t it, but I have never found a training programme that does this
  2. To build on their success members will need to understand the role of investment and have access to it; either their own money or from grants.
MCRM
Motorcycle Repair and Maintenance by the side of the road

These field trips and Faruk’s great depth of understanding and knowledge of the enterprises he supports, built up over the last few years, gave us all much to think about and take forward to our meeting at Gulu Disabled Persons Union. Where should the ETC project go next? See the next post to find out!

How Are They Pushing on at GDPU?

What does progress look like in this type of (very) small scale development context?

Where does long lasting improvement come from and how can you recognise it?

We are now coming to the end of Phase Two of our project, ETC@GDPU (Enhancing the Capacity of Persons with Disability) it provides skills training and business support for young people with disabilities in Gulu and surrounding region. Faruk the project officer from Gulu Disabled Persons Union (GDPU) has been out and about assessing the development of each group in Phase Two and of course checking on the progress of the pilot groups.

Recent Activities:

Financial and Literacy Training 3
Recent Financial and Marketing Training

Financial training/ Marketing training:

  • GDPU hired Mr Okumu Moris, a lecturer in entrepreneurship and commerce, to train youth in marketing skills; a gap identified among the enterprises.
  • The other support offered by the ETC project for the past 8 months also included: Life skills; Financial literacy and record keeping; Business management skills, Group dynamic training and training in specific vocational skills, eg knitting and joining of sweaters using a sewing machine, or electronics or repairing different types of motorbike.
  • Follow ups to the training given and Reflection Meetings were also held.

A look at a couple of the ETC @ GDPU Phase Two Groups might show the effects of this support and training:

Working with the sewing machine at GDPKW

Gulu Disabled Persons Knitting Workshop:

Along with the general training, members of GDPKW have attended Skills Training for two months, training in open sweater weaving, joining sweaters, and using the sewing machine. As Faruk, the project officer has said: “their capacity was successfully built and they are all able to do work without any problems.”

Sample Cash Book from a Training Session

Training outcomes:

    • After the marketing training the enterprise was advised to look for contracts, not only from schools which are the usual outlets for sweater weavers, but also from the community in order to increase their sales. The group should also try to display their products so that others will know them.
  • There is sign of increase in their income, for example, the enterprise was able to get contracts of 206000 Ugandan shillings (about £45.00) for one month, awarded to the enterprise as a result of increased skills and knowledge of marketing and sourcing of contracts from the community.
  • The group has an updated record book which is a very good sign of financial literacy and good practise within the enterprise.
  • The enterprise members have managed to work very hard to improve on the performance of their enterprise.
New Clothes from Old at GDPKW

Good signs for the future

Members of GDPKW have started making individual sweaters of different designs, rather than just school uniforms, and are now getting small individual contracts. GDPU have linked the enterprise to friends who wanted sweaters, and they already been awarded the contract to knit two sweaters at a total cost of 60,000 Ugandan Shillings (about £13.00).

Upcycling at GDPKW

Also, they now sew dresses from small pieces of cloth, recycling different pieces of cheap cloth and offcuts to make one beautiful one. These are particularly suitable for children’s clothing and are therefore very saleable.

School Uniform Sweaters

Small Steps?

Both of these outcomes might seem very small steps but in fact they mark significant progress. Previously, members have felt bound by the forms and types that they had been taught and appeared fearful of anything new, of investing their own time, money or resources in risk. School uniform sweater contracts are seasonal, only available in January/ February at the start of the school year as a bulk order, one-off contract with a low rate of financial return. If you miss the order, through a broken machine or illness perhaps, then you make nothing for the rest of the year. These new ventures not only show people with enough self-confidence to ‘own’ their own business, but also a means for individual makers of new clothes to make a serious future income that is sustainable throughout the year; there is considerable potential for developing ‘upcycling’ and new designs in the local markets.

Other routes to boosting confidence and self esteem:

Sport: Participation in: one of the GDPKW members of the group (Aciro Brenda, a physically disabled girl) participated in the disability Paralympics, winning gold medals in 100m, 200m and Javelin.

Acet Market

Nyeko Rach

A pilot phase hairdressing group based in Acet, a small isolated town some 25 miles out of Gulu on a very poor road.

Description of activities carried out by the group this period:

targeting your market and plaiting of hair: the enterprise performed very well recently, especially during the period of Uganda independence and market days. The enterprise had a lot of customers, all members were engaged and able to earn good money.

Going to see Nyeko Rach Hairdressers in Acet

Increase in commercial confidence and business planning after training: the isolation of Acet, which has no retail shop for salon products, makes using the right materials difficult. The enterprise has realised that if they plan properly, they are able to source and buy the salon products requested by their customers, in Gulu and transport them out to Acet by bus; as Faruk says: “This is a good sign for customer relations and ownership of the enterprise. The enterprise has shown a lot of progress compared to other enterprises as they do buy their materials on a weekly basis.”

Again, small steps but important ones for future sustainability, this is what progress in small scale development looks like.

New Clothes from Old at GDPKW

Coming in the next update:

news about the recent ETC of PWD trustee visit to Gulu and news about the next steps for this project.

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 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!