Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can
change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead
"In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete.That, in essence, is the higher service to which we are all being called." ~ Buckminster Fuller ~
Common Sense Capacity Building
I guess the term in the development business is Capacity Building, but to us, with no money, we had to engage volunteers and creative ways to use technology to assist us in helping scale programs, without money, Common Sense became a key ingredient in our model.
We learned 3 very valuable lessons
1. If you engage volunteers and they buy into a plan where the local people take charge and are empowered to succeed, they will join in and help make the program a success.
2. Capacity building is great , but we believe that helping the people market, sell, write orders, and deliver what they promised was equally important and we turned to technology to assist us to help sell and build capacity.
3. We live in an internet cloud world, major corporations take advantage of the cloud every day and so we brought the cloud to the people in a way, that they can gain strength and added value inorder to create opportunity.
What has been great is that over the last 15 years, we have deployed our Common Sense Capacity Building strategies, they work and now we are keen to help bring new solutions to Karamoja with the hope that in time, Karamoja will bring them to the world.
With mobility a key to a better life and 10 million bikes being thrown away in the developed world, getting containers of bikes and allowing the people to create an economy around mobility made sense and today, Bicycles for Humanity is the largest grassroots movement globally, empowering tens of thousands with a new model. In the last 15 years our grassroots volunteer team has delivered over 180,000 bicycles to 13 African countries, and they literally work with thousands who want to make a difference in these countries. This program continues to grow to this day , driven by the simple believe that everyone wants to be a part of change in a positive way .
No books in schools, few teachers being paid, a slow and expensive internet, meant that few students would ever get the books, knowledge and information needed to get ahead. Again, instead of building more bricks and mortar schools with no money for books or teachers, why not put an entire education and healthcare solution on a memory stick and allow all to freely copy it and give it away or add a wifi router and share it freely with thousands who have a phone, tablet or computer at zero cost. Again, it was Common Sense Capacity Building, that has inspired thousands to continue this and today, we are the largest at delivering health and education information in Africa, all with no staff or overhead, just inspired volunteers.
As the internet grows across Africa and it's speed continues to increase as pricing comes down, we are seeing an explosion of low cost Android Smart Phones. The trend will not stop and so to assist all with continual learning, we have taken the best from the iEmpowerment program that was in PDF format and added it to an online learning centre, where these PDF's can easily be downloaded and shared. B4H Learning Academy and Karamoja.org both contain extensive libraries of great learning material. Once again, anyone inspired to create positive change can do so and with the programs resident in the cloud, there is no cost to scaling these programs or the accreditation that goes with it.
When we first brought bicycles to Karamoja, we not only saw the need for mobility to create a better life, but we saw an incredible tourism opportunity. Cycling as a sport, especially mountain biking was growing globally and riders were looking for the best places to ride. The terrain of Karamoja was world class and so we started the Tour of Karamoja, that this year became the largest cycling event in Ugandan history. We also taught the local Tepeth people to build mountain bike trails and with the event on their traditional grounds a huge success, Ride Karamoja was formed and all riders who come to the region will pay the Tepeth for the privilege to ride their lands. This creates new opportunities for trail builders and guides who will be paid, and around it a new tourism economy for Karamoja. A mountain bike association has been formed and now groups globally will begin to send bikes and support gear to help build this new venture that helps protect the lands and the heritage of the people, yet gives them a new revenue generating opportunity and path to hope and a better life. Again, we call this Common Sense Capacity Building, inspired local people, volunteers that believe and the effective use of technology to tell the story and reach out to customers.
All NGO's try to figure out how to build solutions that allow them to collect valuable data in a number of subject areas. Building one off solutions is expensive to both build and maintain, plus it takes specialized people from outside to manage these collection systems. In today's internet cloud environment, it is very easy to build collection apps that can be used for any collection activity and managed by local people. Our common sense view of data collection is simply, why build a new system, when you can hire a local person who has the skills and the technology platform in place to get the data you need, all at a fraction of the cost of building a one off system. We think that this common sense approach to data collection and it will scale globally, driven by inspired individuals seeking a better life.
Every day we see local people being trained in the skills to grow things, make things or to work in an industry like tourism. We see these people go back to their villages full of hope for a better life, yet , no idea how to make it happen. At Kara-Tunga Theo realized that selling, getting tour operators to book his lodge was most important and so, he built an internet platform , with search optimization that would attract people to us. This worked and he carried it over to the Tour of Karamoja, selling honey and it is now a foundation piece of our Common Sense Capacity Building model. Now every person trained, who wants to start a tourism activity, we will add them to our portal, highlight their services, handle the booking for them, arrange money transfer and allow their clients to provide feedback for others to review and make their decisions on. Like the Ekokwa program for data collection , we feel that this program will create a new set of skills needed in the region to manage orders, clients and bookings and together, the tourism portal and the new skill sets become solutions that we can export from Karamoja to all of Africa and the world.
Common Sense Capacity Building is who we are and it is what we are deploying in Karamoja and have been in Africa for 15 years. Our goal at Karamoja.org with the local people is extending these new services and skills first in Karamoja and then to the world.