How Asante Africa Foundation helped inspire a Ugandan entrepreneur in the making
DEC 21, 2020
When we hear stories of people making a difference they tend to be local or national celebrities or politicians. But it’s far more common that the folks who make the most difference in the lives of our communities are the individuals within that community. Lillian is one of those people. This year Lillian, an Asante Africa Foundation alumna, epitomizes our holiday theme of “unwrapping the potential.”
Asante Africa is unwrapping the potential of East African Youth
Drawn to the positive effects Asante Africa had on the leadership and empowerment of the community youth, Lillian began with the Foundation in 2019, having been introduced to Asante Africa by the church. Shy, but with a creative sensibility, Lillian soon found that being in a group with like-minded youth and teachers broke her out of her shell. Soon, her thirst for knowledge and community activism grew. She knew she always wanted to help people and Asante Africa would be the vehicle through which her advocacy would take flight.
While attending Asante Africa’s Leadership and Entrepreneurship Incubator (LEI) Program, Lillian excelled, gaining key leadership and entrepreneurship skills. Her exposure to an environment of teamwork, management, and job readiness, helped to boost her self-confidence and motivation. By the time Lillian graduated from LEI in December 2019, she walked away transformed…and with a new sense of creative purpose.
“The most meaningful thing that I learned is to be a changemaker, someone with a desire to promote change in the world. It transformed me with a practical approach to making a change in my community.” – Lillian
Lillian is now a sophomore student at Ndejje University in Mengo Kampala in the Bachelor of Procurement and Logistics Management Program (BPLM). As the eldest among her three siblings, Lillian is driven to set an example for her family through her hard work so they might begin to set their own goals and follow their dreams.
Paying the lessons of Asante Africa Foundation forward
Lillian continues to create and promote positive impact through Asante Africa’s “Pay it Forward” Model. At Ndejje, Lillian served as the Director of Community Service in the Rotary Club. By leaning on her own experience, Lillian mentored members on how they can become leaders and change agents by using their voice to fight for key matters.
Soon after, she was promoted to the Youth Service Director. In that role, Lillian nurtures youth on entrepreneurial skills and leadership in a way that enables self reflection. She works to provide experiences that challenge and stretch the youths’ knowledge and skills so they can fulfill their potential as full-fledged club members and serve the community. As an example, Lillian also joined her club colleagues in mobilizing 60+ people in Kampala to donate blood and help accident, anemic and pregnancy patients. In her work with the Rotary Club, Lillian underscores what “pay it forward” really means.
Lillian also established the Give to Life Foundation with a team of 10. Her new foundation has “expanded the circle” of community outreach and the principles she picked up from Asante Africa Foundation.
“The Give to Life Foundation assists those in need and is available for all types of people such as the elderly, orphans, vulnerable groups and those living deep in rural areas. We not only do charity work, but also educate youth on the same life and leadership skills that I learned from Asante Africa,” said Lillian.
Creating her foundation has had its challenges. She continues to struggle with issues typical of a start-up (finances, proposals, onboarding qualified team members and more) with the added challenge of living in an impoverished area.
“I researched how to create a foundation and did some strategic planning. My team consists of four Asante Africa alumni and three other members. It is not easy. I got discouragement from others who questioned how I would manage the foundation. But I didn’t lose hope because I know I am a changemaker. I found the courage from the passion I have to help people, my teammates who believed in me, and my desire to fulfill my goals. We are determined to follow our mission which is ‘to create togetherness and make better lives for the people in our country’.”
Undeterred, Lillian continues to create budget plans, develop social media and communications strategies, and research for potential funders. She and her teammates are also planning charity and empowerment projects for nearby school districts and community members.
To date, Give to Life has helped more than 30 Ugandans in total, including special needs children aged 5 to 15 at Angels Center in Wakiso.
Self-empowerment and entrepreneurial creativity
While most of us have been understandably shaken by the global pandemic this year, Lillian stepped forward to serve her community in a time of need. Using the local language of Luganda, she focused on a group of young children in the neighborhood to help fight against COVID-19. By sharing preventative measures that help limit the spread of the virus, she demonstrated how to properly wash hands, avoid touching your face, coughing and sneezing into your elbows, and practice social distancing. Lillian taught the children how to safely use both the reusable and single-use masks as well.
Lillian’s passion for civic engagement is apparent, but equally strong is her entrepreneurial creativity. At university, Lillian has combined her degree studies (learning how to structure business ideas) with a stint at NAD plumbing services (Hardware) in Kampala. She saw an opportunity to stock materials at an affordable price with the connections she had from the workplace. Lillian started with some capital she had saved (approximately 400,000 Uganda shillings, or roughly $110 USD) and the support from her father.
As with anything in life, Lillian faces some challenges. They include low finances since hardware is expensive to source. But her industrious marketing helps publicize her business on social media and with a supply of business cards. This young entrepreneur in the making is fearlessly exploring her potential in her community and the world.
“My goals are to be a successful entrepreneur,” says Lillian. “To always be creative, and to organise many community forums where I can mentor people and encourage teamwork. I’ll strive to stand up and use my voice to combat irresponsible actions, to make a change in my community, and to be an inspirational leader in society.”
“If I had any advice to offer to my fellow girls in Uganda, it would be to work hard to know your goals, pursue your dreams, and never give up. It may be a struggle, but this year has taught me to use every opportunity you get to stay motivated and become a change agent and leader for the community. I always follow the quote ‘actions attract change.’ The journey continues, Asante Sana Asante Africa.”