* This story begins in the middle*
At that time the team had succeeded in convincing three schools to come on board, two in Lwengo district and one in Lyantonde district. In each school they introduced the YOUNG SAVERS CLUB for the children in school and the SCHOOL COMMUNITY BANK for the parents.
“As Kisoboka, our biggest interest has always been a mind shift change. We wanted these parents to believe that they could do better. That they could afford to pay their children’s school fees but most importantly to improve on their social economic status,” says the calm Stephen Katende.
Like most rural districts, not many residents in the district engage in commercial farming. They mainly engage in substance farming with a few coffee trees littered in the garden. “At harvest, one is content selling 10 kilograms of coffee, yet they could afford to do more if they thought of it.” These are some of the mind shift changes that Kisoboka had to take on to create a new paradigm change.
The team had to stay on the ground to assimilate themselves with the way of life of the people. Kisoboka’s interest was to demystify the thought that education was too expensive for people who could afford a certain lifestyle. They stayed so they could be seen as their own fellows other than strangers with a hidden agenda. “By the time we established in 2016, the locals had been conned of their money by schemes that disappeared after making their cut. They were not willing to trust again.”
That called for a long stay among the communities. They introduced the 9 month training for parents on the student community bank training them once a week and challenging them to implement what they had learnt. By the seventh month, each participant was expected to have established a business of their own. By this time, the parents were already fond of the Kisoboka team and there was willingness to work together. Besides, the excitement of having to borrow ready money to do their business encouraged them to save more. Each parent was allowed to save between UGX 2000 -10000 every week.
Today, Lukindu BT Academy boasts of a UGX 50 million in savings. They began with 30 parents and now they have a total of 130 parents. This means more parents are able to keep their children in school.
“We gave the parents a condition; since it’s a school community bank, priority has to be about keeping the children in school,” Stephen gestures with a stern face before he continues, “upon paying fees, one is free to borrow money but limited to only doing business. Today, we have seen a difference in the livelihoods of these parents.”
The children in primary school are running the Young Savers Club where they contribute between UGX 500-2000 as one is able to. This money is also leant out to parents. Each school has a full committee of the pupils who run the club with two patrons, one being a teacher and another a parent. Lukindu BT Academy has saved up to UGX 1.2 million and Kabasegwa in Lyantonde UGX 530,000. All this money is raised by the children single handed. They only lend out their money to parents with children in their school.
The story of Kisoboka finds its beginning in 2015. Stephen Katende was among the few who had made it for the Building Tomorrow Fellowship. Building Tomorrow (BT) is an organisation vested in enabling children in less privileged communities acquire an education. On the onset, BT was constructing the schools and handing them to parents to manage them. With time, they realized it was not working out as parents did not fully appreciate the idea of education. As a remedy, the organisation came up with a two year fellowship program where two fellows were placed among the communities where the schools were. Their role was to interest the locals in appreciating sending their children to school.
Stephen and Daisy Naluwuge were both placed in Lwengo District to oversee Lukindu BT Academy. Here they were to spend the next two years of their life. However, little did they know that there was more work for them to do that called for a longer stay.
Soon they realized that the reason parents were not sending their children to school was mainly because they did not value the idea. Most of them, not being educated themselves, did not find it a problem that their children were missing out on school. Also, they looked at their incomes to be so meagre to enable them send their children to school.
Stephen felt challenged and took it upon himself to find a solution. Much as the BT team had done an awareness campaign, it proved not to be enough even then. There was need for a continued reminder in terms of capacity building for the entire community. There was also need to help the parents with children in school to afford the fees.
That is how the idea of Kisoboka came about. “Every time a parent told me ‘tekisoboka’, I would remind them that ‘kisoboka’ and when we were looking for name for our organization, a friend and co-founder Bruce Tushabe reminded me of this positive word, KISOBOKA, it’s possible. And possible it has been for the few years we have been in operation.”
After serving the two years of the BT fellowship, Stephen and Daisy were not in a rush to leave Lwengo. They stayed behind to implement the ideas of Kisoboka. First they were to do a capacity building for both the parents and the children. Parents; to pay fees and the children; to stay in school. In addition, they were to come up with ways to help both the parents and the children to participate in improving their livelihood. This is how the School Community Bank and the Young Savers Club were born respectively. Two years later, over UGX 80 million has been raised through these two projects.
Kisoboka has extended its arm to four schools. Two in Lwengo, one in Lyantonde and in 2019, they begin with another in Nansana. The team has grown from just the three co-founders to seven. They look forward to establishing a Sacco that will be serving 100 different communities in the next five years. The Sacco will be open to both parents and non-parents in the communities.
They also want to improve their operations, they are now looking at developing a software that will help them track the documentation process. With money kept in cash, there stands a big challenge as it keeps growing by day.
In June 2019, Kisoboka turns 3 years old and, like Stephen tells me, “I didn’t know we’d get here but now we’re more resolved than before that indeed KISOBOKA!”