The Uimara initiative was founded based on François Bagganizi’s passion for entrepreneurship and traveling. François – Uimara’s founder – sees the potential in developing countries to empower intelligent people with great ideas & projects.
The company’s mission is driven by a strong belief that while there may be many intelligent people with bright ideas there may exist missing elements such as support, coaching, and a boost to convert those ideas to practice.
Uimara’s ambition is to become a recognized and trusted catalyst in connecting and supporting resilient project owners with society-driven donors. All the while creating a favorable environment for sustainable growth in developing countries for the future.
We had a quick chat with Francois as he shared with us about Uimara and his passion to shine a light on entrepreneurs in developing countries.
Uimara is a Belgian non-profit organization that aims to catalyze sustainable development by connecting project owners in developing countries, with the diaspora and socially responsible corporations willing to support their initiatives.
More than a mission, we are convinced about the potential and talent in developing countries and want to encourage local entrepreneurial initiatives with a powerful impact on their communities. Entrepreneurs are requested to submit a project for consideration.
You work closely with young entrepreneurs in developing countries. What drove you to this?
Actually, we work not only with the youth as well as their elders. Our primary motivation was ideological: we were impressed by the potential, creativity, and resilience arising from developing countries. But also acknowledged that there is a long way to go.
Through Uimara we wanted to contribute to change the mentalities, putting the spotlight on the potential and creativity arising from developing countries rather than the unfortunately common view of seeking punctual help-seeking where needed.
At the same time, we thought about how to support this and realized that a lot of people from the diaspora as well as socially responsible companies are already embracing this view. But they had experienced various challenges in the past, in terms of trust, the project plan versus actual realization didn’t work out.
We, therefore, came up with the Uimara platform which allows resilient project owners from developing countries to be put in the spotlight and be supported by ideological, technical advisory, and/or financial.
At the same time, Uimara provides transparency & confidence to the diaspora and socially responsible companies by confirming that the projects have been analyzed and correctly planned, will be monitored properly and that the progress/success would be able to be assessed at each phase until completion.
Uimara is also big on the SDGs especially SDG 4, 5, 7, 8, and 17. Tell us more about this.
To maximize our impact on sustainable development, we have focused on 5 SDGs that we believe are completing each other and represent the most chances to create a catalyst effect, be replicable, and contribute to employability.
As such, we considered education (4) and gender equality (5) can be leveraged to create economic growth and access to decent work (18). Next, we wanted to improve communities’ lives and realized that climate change and the cost of energy, in particular in emerging countries, represent one of the main (and increasing challenges).
It applies both to individuals and entrepreneurs. Therefore, we want to combine economic growth with access to affordable and clean energy with the support of our partners.
One of the greatest projects you have been able to work on is in Kyaka II Refugee camp in Uganda. Tell us more about the project.
We first were impressed by the resilience the Kyaka II community has shown to give young children (i.e. aged from 4 – 8 years) the opportunity to remain educated while in the refugee camp.
Unfortunately, the initiative had faced some challenges to building sufficient classrooms and hence, welcomed older children and struggled with access to energy, in particular during the COVID-19 pandemic where the needs were increased in this regard.
We, therefore, wanted to bridge the education gap, while tackling the energy scarcity in a sustainable way, for the teacher, students, and the community.
Since education is high on our agenda and we believe this is a powerful tool to achieve SDG’s we wanted to support the project to expand their classroom offering (9 – 15years). However we were also thinking on the mid-long term, like how to increase the employability of the youth, and hence the impact of the project.
Uimara introduced a workshop class where students can learn more about green energy and do practical exercises to be the ones working on the maintenance, reparations, and installations in the future.
Are there any more projects as such that you are implementing in other cities or towns in Africa?
Yes, we are currently working on a project in Madagascar and more details will be following soon on our website.
Last year was a tough year for many organizations due to the COVID 19 Pandemic. How did this affect your organization’s operations?
While we had limited operations last year (registration year), the pandemic has delayed the start of our projects, mainly due to travel restrictions. Our mission requires local contacts and connections, which were limited due to the pandemic.
On the other hand, the pandemic has hit even more hardly emerging countries and this has increased even more our motivation to pursue our mission and confirmed the impact this can have to strengthen these communities.
How are you able to bridge the gap between entrepreneurs and let us say the socially responsible individuals and companies?
We highlight more the common goals both have and economies of scale that can be achieved by collaborating while acknowledging the challenges experienced in the past and addressing them in a transparent and collegial way.
While working with the young entrepreneurs what are some of the things/ aspects that you look for?
We consider several aspects of the projects to give the most exhaustive support possible. Yet, one of the things we particularly pay attention to is that entrepreneurs and partners share our vision and values to ensure there is a fit with the different parties.
The year just started, what is next for Uimara?
Relatively young organization – registered last year and 2021 will be the 1st full year operating. We have exciting projects that we are working on and which we hope to help go live.
You just joined Nairobi Garage, why did you opt for the coworking concept and what do you like about it?
Being in the country for a few days before going back to Brussels, finding a convenient place and a flexible membership was quite key for me. One thing I like about working from Nairobi Garage is the friendly community of entrepreneurs that have been built over time. It is amazing, you get to meet and network with different people in the space.
Interested in us shining a spotlight on your organization? Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org Feature image sourced from Uimara.org