Zabinnah SE Forum

Maendeleo Foundation, Sustainably Bringing Technology to Rural Uganda

May 14, 2014 - Interviews

Meet Zabbinah Nakirya, the Business Development and Administrative Manager of Maendeleo Foundation based in Kampala Uganda. The Foundation provides basic computer skills through Mobile Solar Computer Classrooms to hundreds of children and local communities in rural Uganda . 

ZabbinahIn 3 sentences only, who is Zabbinah?

Zabbinah is a simple person who likes simple things. She likes reading and writing and prefers to listen than to speak

What does your company/organization do?

We work towards making computer literacy accessible, available and affordable to disadvantaged persons who are not exposed to modern technology. Through the skills obtained we hope that they would be able to utilize them in solving day-to-day issues

What is your role? How is a typical day being you?

I am responsible for administrative matters, marketing and program development.

My typical day starts at 6AM and I am in the office by 7:30.  I have a brainstorming meeting with my colleagues on expectations of the day and the projects that they run. Thereafter, I go through my emails and conduct other administrative duties. The rest of the day can be spent in meetings with the Executive Director where we lay out strategies for instance on fundraising and marketing and work on reports. My day ends at about 7 or 8PM

How come that you took exactly this path that you have chosen? How has your journey been so far?

I met Asia and Erik, the founders of the organization, while I was studying at the University. They had an idea on working with children and that was a no-brainer for me. I instantly agreed to join them mainly because it has always been my desire to reach out to under privileged children.

Being with Maendeleo has been an eye-opening journey; I have had the opportunity to meet inspiring people. Working with organizations and individuals who share a similar passion is extremely fulfilling and educative. A lot of the things I do today I have learnt on the job. I have learnt the value of reaching out and helping other people who are in disadvantaged situation.

What’s your next step? What’s your dream/vision?

I see myself as a person who wants to create a legacy working for my community. The next step for myself is to pursue further education and get a Masters degree that will facilitate me with additional knowledge that would be useful for Maendeleo.

Being a social entrepreneur is most often not to follow the straight wide road. Can you tell us about any road less travelled that you’ve taken and how it turned out?

The communities I work with are located in very remote and rural areas. Often when I get back from these visits, which last for a week or two, my friends do not understand how I can live in remote areas for that period of time. Most of them say they would never leave their lives in the city.

What impact do you aim to make? What impacts have you seen so far?

We want to see a Uganda where children in the rural communities are empowered to pursue their education for as long as they want to and resources are made available.

We want to see to it that jobs are created in these communities and information is easily accessible and is used to overcome obstacles. In this regard, livelihoods would be improved through income generating activities.

So far we have empowered schools to take a step towards mobilizing resources to build computer laboratories, which is something that they did not see as important before. We have helped idle youth who were involved in petty crimes and gambling through enabling them seek vocational jobs.

Why does this (the impact you are trying to make) matter to you?

I grew up in an environment that did not believe in girls becoming anything other than housewives, the communities do not really give opportunities to young women on how to be independent and make informed decisions. This has driven me to help help young children and especially girls. Maendeleo Foundation focuses on encouraging girls to attend the mobile classes and they can in turn set an example to other girls in their community 

Tell us one thing about you that not too many people know about you. Any secret talents?

I fear crowds, too many people make me anxious 

Why are you participating in the SE Outreach Accelerator? What were/are your expectations? What are your needs? How has your experience been so far?

Maendeleo foundation is a growing venture and we do not have very many opportunities for capacity building and I really want to get as much knowledge as I can to share with my peers and colleagues in Uganda. Other than the theoretical aspect of the program, I would like to use this opportunity to meet people. When you are at the same place surrounded by the same people all the time you tend to get demotivated since. Therefore, I look forward to meeting new people getting fresh ideas that would serve as an inspiration

Any good tips you want to share with the outer world?

Stay positive at all times, the more positive you are the more open minded you will be to solutions