Projects & Partners

Our partners are handpicked from across East Africa by the IIDEA Committee, which is comprised of members from the Regional Dialogue Committee, Ministries of East African Community Affairs, EAC Secretariat and GIZ. These projects were selected based on IIDEA's selection criteria (see Tools to learn more).

On this page, you can find our partner's profiles to learn about how these exciting projects are building East African integration from the ground up. You will also be able to find links to their websites and Facebook to find out more about the innovative projects and the organisations that implement them.


IIDEA Partners in this focal area contribute to the overall goal of enhancing food security, rational agricultural and livestock practices within the East African Community by providing valuable stakeholder feedback towards supporting the harmonization of agricultural policies as well as joint programmes for efficient and effective production.

Project: Improve market access and increase income of women and youth engaged in bee keeping value chain.

September 2021 – March 2022

The project intends to increase the income and improve the livelihood of 2,000 youth and women along the bee keeping value chain. It develops measures to improve the quality of honey, increase the production capacity of local beekeepers and links the beekeepers to reliable markets in the EAC through a contract model.

The project provides technical training on beekeeping combined with business training. Modern bee keeping equipment is provided as part of the training, and the capacity development has a focus on improving beneficiaries’ skills and knowledge about quality control in beekeeping and honey production, but also deals with regulations of trading across borders. These measures will enable the beekeepers to achieve better market access.

A contract model between beekeepers in Tanzania and a Kenya-based honey-processing company makes sure that farmers get beekeeping equipment and training on bee keeping best practises, apiary management, harvesting schedules, quality control, handling, storage and marketing skills such as grading, packaging, labelling and branding.

“The technical training we receive from this project has opened our eyes towards best practices in beekeeping. With this knowledge, we expect to increase the volume of honey and other bee products we harvest from 4 to 12 kg per hive, which will guarantee us to get a great profit,” said Paul Faustine, a beekeeper from Babati in Tanzania. “As we produce more honey and other bee products of higher quality than before, we are assured of getting a market for our products across the border in Kenya at fair and reliable conditions. This helps us to increase our income, make it more reliable and improve our livelihoods,” he added.

The Ahadi project team works together with beekeepers and government officers when negotiating contract terms with the honey-processing company before signing to ensure that all parties benefit in a fair manner.

Agri-Link Tanzania (ALT)

Technology 4 Improved  MSMEs in Leather  Production and Market Access

  • PROJECT - Using environmentally friendly technologies in leather production to improve quality and production, and increase the income, employment and market access of marginalized women and youth in Tanzania and Kenya.Cattle herding is synonymous with East Africa, but when it comes to maximising income from cows, there are still some opportunities being missed. The lack of a market and an understanding of how to process skins properly has seen skins being simply thrown away after slaughter in Tanzania. But this is where ALT has seen an opportunity, and through their IIDEA project will be working with mainly women and youth to capitalise on the opportunity to grow a market in high quality leather.The value chain for leather starts with the cow owners, moves through to the transporters and brokers and on to the slaughterhouse. Ensuring skins are not just kept but then dried and treated properly will be key to being able to break into the market. Historically women and youth have faced many challenges in the leather industry, mainly around access and ownership, and have been the last to be able to take up opportunities in leather production. ALT will be targeting women and youth and encouraging their involvement, giving training and using technology to improve leather production with an emphasis on environmentally friendly techniques using vegetables, salts and tree barks in the leather processing.Small things like the branding of cattle is important. If the brand is too large and obvious it ruins the skin for selling later. Educating around this requires community engagement and overcoming cultural norms – Masaai brands are often large and elaborate and the skins are therefore not fit for trading. But with education and an understanding of the market opportunities available locally and across the border, this can be changed for the benefit of whole communities.Kenya currently has a much more developed leather market, but there are many lessons Tanzania can learn, and many opportunities across the border they can capitalise on. Finding key markets – handbag producers, shoemakers and more – will help provide the incentive to take the required steps all along the value chain to produce high quality skins for export.“We will be working with all levels of the value chain to ensure top quality – up to ISO standards - leather for export, to Kenya or anywhere in the world. We want to establish exchange programs between Kenya and Tanzania – seeing is believing – and we know that when we build the capacity of Tanzanian leather producers, they will really be able to capitalise on the growing market especially in Kenya.”

Eastern and Southern African Small-Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF) Uganda

Boosting Trade Opportunities for Agricultural Products and Services through Promoting Small Scale Farmers' Access to Markets and Information

PROJECT - Developing an app in English and Kiswahili which will link small scale farmers, especially women, to business opportunities in the region and each other.

As a woman farmer and agricultural trader, finding out information about markets and where to capitalise on business opportunities is often difficult. Access to technology, patriarchal structures and lack of networking opportunities can mean missing out on market openings and not knowing where good prospects are.

ESAFF, through the IIDEA programme, plans to create an Online Market Application that will act as a platform for small scale mainly women farmers in Uganda and Kenya to access markets for their agricultural products. According to Mrs Walimbwa Nancy Mugimba, National Coordinator, ESAFF Uganda, “The goal of the project is to improve the trading opportunities in agriculture-related products and services within and between Uganda and Kenya through transforming and creating an online product and service markets and promoting access to market and information on trade opportunities in the region.”

The app will be in both English and Kiswahili, and also be a platform for sharing information between traders, creating a strong grassroots network learning from each other and helping to create a stronger, more viable marketplace.  “Border points usually require paperwork and our experience with our stakeholders has been that they often don’t know how to get the right documents, and hence pay middlemen to help negotiate it all. This adds extra expense and is therefore prohibitive to small scale farmers, and is therefore a deterrent to cross border trade. Simplifying policies and information around cross border trade will greatly help traders, and we hope to help by providing an easy one stop app for getting all the information needed to work effectively in a cross-border trading environment.”

“We are well placed to work with farmers in the development of the app. With members in 30 districts in Uganda, our focus to date has been on farmer led advocacy and movement building, food sovereignty and financing and economic growth. We have seen where small-scale women farmers and traders have struggled in the past, and believe this app is a good step towards creating a more equal playing field and empowering women to capitalise on cross border trade opportunities. With the right information at their fingertips, and continued training and outreach, they will be able to compete and network and create their own opportunities in the region.”

Shambani Solutions Tanzania

Green Beans for Youth Job Creation

PROJECTImproving the livelihoods of 2,200 young people by connecting them to gainful employment through a contract farming model in the green beans value chain and providing business training and basic life skills.

At a time when more young people are turning their backs on farming and rural life and trying (but often failing) to find work in towns and cities, Shambani Solutions and their partner Frigoken Ltd are instead luring youth back to the land, and creating a stable income from green beans in Babati, Tanzania.

International exporter Frigoken Ltd provides the market, much of the infrastructure and on farm training for how to grow green beans fit for regional and international consumers, and Shambani have been working with local government officers and regional youth groups to find young people who may benefit from this program.

“The young farmers sign and work under a six month contract which guarantees a fair and fixed price for the green beans, whatever the market price is doing. But setting up costs can be more than most people have upfront – seeds, harvesting equipment, transport costs – so the youth are also offered loans for the seeds and on farm running expenses, which are then paid back from the harvest and sales price.” said Johnson Mwambola from Shambani.

The project has already been running a little more informally for some time, but under the IIDEA programme it will be expanded to target 2200 young people, with the aim of a 50/50 split between women and men. The young farmers will be broken into groups and encouraged to work and train together, providing a network for learning and sharing.

“Encouraging women to farm in this way has been a little more difficult, but we have been finding and working with women leaders, who act as champions for the program, and also we have women on our outreach team, who can talk to the girls and tell them about the programme and why it is a good idea and can help them with a steady income.”

“It’s not all about farming either. Part of the program also includes working with the farming groups on soft skills. We have a Basic Life Skills and Business Skills Development programme, and do business coaching with the farmers groups, helping them beyond the technical side of planting and picking, and building them into businesspeople, understanding the markets, standards, negotiating and how to run their farm at a profit.”

Frigoken Ltd have already invested and continue to invest in the necessary infrastructure to help grow this enterprise – with more farmers and more green beans comes the need for more storage, and transport to the processing facility in Kenya.  Together they are providing a rural livelihood for young farmers and their communities.

Tanzania Association of Non-governmental Organizations (TANGO)

EAC Small-Scale Business Interest Group’s Portal

Start and end date of project: March 2017 to September 2017

Who We Are

We are an umbrella of Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) which works toward building the capacity of NGOs to effectively engage in and influence the national and international democratic and governance processes.

What is the idea?

Enhanced information availability to small-scale farmers and business interest groups regarding the EAC trade regime so that they can take advantage of the market opportunities to increase their incomes and therefore improve their livelihoods.

Questions and Answers

What does your organization want to change and what motivates your team regarding to the work of your organization?

We want to increase the benefits of small-scale farmers and business interest groups from regional integration, more so the Common Market Protocol.

What do you like the most about your work?

Ensuring that the civic population engages and influences the national and international development discourse.

Which achievements of your organization are you the most proud of and why?
  1. TANGO was instrumental in the formation of the East African Civil Society Organization’s Forum (EACSOF).
  2. TANGO has been instrumental in the localization of the EAC Treaty and Protocols by creating  awareness and soliciting the views of ordinary people regarding EAC integration, especially the Customs Union and the Common Market Protocols.
  3. TANGO coordinates the CSOs part of the National Consultative Dialogue and feeds the CSOs views in the regional dialogue.
  4. TANGO is the coordinator and secretariat of EACSOF Tanzania chapter.
  5. TANGO as coordinator of EACSOF, with the support of FCS/TMEA, and recently facilitated networks of CSOs, which are involved in EAC integration matters to develop communication strategies that have resulted into concise message to the EAC and the Government.
  6. TANGO has undertaken orientation sessions for small-scale business interest groups and farmers regarding the EAC trade rules, tariffs and standards.
  7. TANGO also provides information to CSOs regarding the trends in EAC Integration.
What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

To take EAC integration seriously because, whether they like it or not, it has an effect on their livelihoods.

When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

Yes, we would have built broader networks and partnerships across the EAC so small-scale business interest groups and farmers will take our organization as a facilitation point on EAC matters.

What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

Resources needed to respond to the needs of small-scale interest groups and farmers regarding EAC integration.

Enabling the EAC Partner States to enjoy economies of scale, with a view to supporting the process of economic development through the establishment of a Single Customs Territory. IIDEA partners in this focal area contribute to this overarching goal.

Project: Buy East Africa e-Commerce Platform for Agribusiness

Project Duration: November 2021-May 2022

Start page of the Buy East Africa Platform


Afro Ark of Rwanda and the Resilience Organization of South Sudan are jointly developing a digital platform called ‘Buy East Africa’. This platform, supported by German Development Cooperation with the EAC through the Incubator for Integration and Development in East Africa (IIDEA), is an e-Commerce platform, connecting women and youth entrepreneurs in agribusiness between Rwanda and South Sudan.

“Youth and women entrepreneurs in both Rwanda and South Sudan will identify a selection of quality agro-based products to be listed on the Buy East Africa e-Commerce platform and widen their choices to order agricultural products. Customers will be able to compare products and prices and make choices according to their needs and financial means. The transaction process will be much quicker as the buyer and the seller are in constant contact, which cuts down on the time the women and youth entrepreneurs take moving from place to place to source the products they need”, explains Patience Iribagiza, Executive Director of Afro Ark.

The e-Commerce platform responds to the socio-economic needs of youth and women entrepreneurs in both South Sudan and Rwanda and improves their connections to enhance bilateral trade. It has the potential to replace the traditional laborious and costly business method involving customers travelling from place to place looking for the products they need.

All functionalities will be in place within the six-months project duration and well designed to facilitate a trustable market of quality-assured products, market price information through extensive product descriptions, reviews by customers, content moderation, and producer identity verification and pricing. The platform will drastically improve the volume of trade between women and youth entrepreneurs involved in agribusiness between Rwanda and South Sudan.

The platform is to be launched in both Rwanda and South Sudan, and stakeholders at the launch will share the information of the event on their social media platforms. Youth and women entrepreneurs will use their phones and internet access to get the information published by partners during the launch that will be covered by media. Besides, the project will also conduct TV and radio adverts that will reach many youth and women entrepreneurs in both Rwanda and South Sudan that access either or both channels for them to check on the Buy East Africa e-Commerce Platform.

More information:
Web site:
Facebook: @Afroark,
Twitter: @afroark,
Instagram: @afroark,

Eastern African Sub-Regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women (EASSI)

Positioning Women Cross-Border Traders to Seize Opportunities in The East African Community and Africa Continental Free Trade Area

Project duration: September 2021 – March 2022

The Eastern African Sub-Regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women (EASSI), with support from GIZ-EAC IIDEA, has started a new six-month project on ‘Positioning Women Cross Border Traders to Seize Opportunities in The East African Community and Africa Continental Free Trade Area.’

The project’s two main objectives are to enhance participation of women cross-border traders in the AfCFTA, and to advocate for gender-sensitive policies and processes in the implementation of the AfCFTA.

This project was inspired by EASSI’s research which showed that women cross-border traders face gender-specific challenges such as information gaps on cross-border regulations and procedures, lack of information on markets, competition from big companies, high taxes, exploitation, delays at borders and sexual harassment. They also face barriers in accessing capital, credit and trading networks and trade in low incentive items such as produce and consumables.

If these challenges are not addressed, trade opportunities such as the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) are likely to widen gender disparities instead of realizing the women’s economic empowerment they envisage. This situation has worsened with COVID-19 pandemic response measures including border closures, lock downs, curfews and costs of COVID-19 testing when crossing borders. The measures manifest as new Non-Tariff Barriers which affect small-scale informal traders more adversely than their large-scale formal counterparts who quickly adapted to digital business.

The project is timely in its bid to enhance awareness about AfCFTA opportunities, and in supporting women cross-border traders to engage in digital trade to explore wider markets beyond their borders without their physical presence. It will also promote a favorable environment for women cross-border traders within the AfCFTA through engaging policy-makers and duty-bearers on addressing gender-specific barriers to women’s participation in cross border and regional trade.

Specifically, EASSI plans to undertake capacity building for 100 government officials from within the East African Community Partner States of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya to strengthen their ability to identify gender disparities that hinder women’s participation in trade and cause policy reform for gender sensitive implementation of the AfCFTA. The project will also profile and market 30 women cross-border traders’ businesses in Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan on an international trade digital platform. There will also be sensitisation of 80 women cross-border traders on the AfCFTA and their strategic positioning to explore its opportunities at the EAC borders of Isebania, Sirari, and Malaba between Uganda and Kenya, Busia between Uganda and Kenya and Mutukula between Uganda and Tanzania.

The project will additionally facilitate regional policy discourse amongst stakeholders in the EAC on addressing issues that hinder women in cross-border trade, and in turn inform AfCFTA’s implementation. This will address concerns such as those of Mariam, a woman cross-border trader in Busia who noted, ‘Women cross-border traders feel the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of regional trade policies first hand and should be at the negotiation table if they are to really gain from trade!’

Making the AfCFTA work for Women in the EAC

Project duration: September 2021 to March 2022

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), launched on January 1, 2021, is to increase the trade among countries of the African continent. The share of trade among African countries currently stands at a mere 16% of the entire African trade volume. For comparison: intra-European trade and Intra-Asian trade take up 70% and 60% of these countries’ entire trade.

Most East African Community (EAC) Partner States have signed and ratified the AfCFTA. They are preparing national implementation strategies and negotiating the outstanding aspects of the agreement. The EAC Secretariat is also engaging Partner States in formulating a regional strategy for the implementation of the agreement.

Despite the great potential of the AfCFTA for transforming the lives of people on the African continent, private sector players, who could be the key AfCFTA beneficiaries, are little aware of the Agreement and do not know how to take advantage of it. Women in particular are widely unaware of the benefits of the AfCFTA, although they make up 75% of cross-border traders in Africa and of owners of medium, small, and micro enterprises in urban areas. It is therefore very critical to empower women to take full advantage of the opportunities provided by the Agreement.

Therefore, TradeSmart Consult Ltd, with support from German Development Cooperation through the EAC-GIZ IIDEA initiative, will be rolling out a capacity development project with workshops and communication campaigns targeting women in the EAC. ‘Making the AfCFTA work for Women in the EAC’ will train over 150 women in four workshops on how they can take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. The training includes topics such as export readiness, rules of origin and market intelligence. The training will enable women traders to start trading outside their traditional domestic markets. This will subsequently uplift their livelihoods and contribute towards poverty alleviation, combating of gender-based violence and other gender biases. The project will hold workshops in Kigali, Nairobi, Namanga, Malaba, and Gisenyi. Additionally, TradeSmart Consult Ltd will utilize webinars and social media campaigns to reach a wider audience of more than 1500 women. In essence this project will involve women from five EAC countries namely: Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and DRC.

“Our project aims to demystify trade agreements such as the AfCFTA by communicating effectively and through suitable channels, thus ensuring that trade agreements do not just remain at policy level and for large companies only, but can also be taken advantage of by SME’s and women traders,” explained Ms. Rose Ronoh, the founder of TradeSmart Consult Ltd. “With increased awareness and knowledge on trade agreements such as the AfCFTA, EAC and COMESA protocols, there will be increased levels of intra-African trade which will ensure the welfare of citizens, particularly women traders who are faced by very many challenges and most of the time bear the brunt of poverty will improve,” she added.

The project will also enhance the capacity of women traders to plug into regional value chains. This will feed into continental and global value chains, subsequently increasing trade and improving the economic strengths of countries on the African continent, whose majority have negative balances of trade and are therefore heavily relying on taxation and loans to fund their budgets.

AfriTrade and Enterprise Advisory Services (ATEAS)

EAC Market Place

  • Who We Are

    ATEAS specialises in provision of strategic advisory services to private sector firms drawn from across the globe, business membership organisations, the public sector, regional economic communities and development partners operating especially in the East African region but also across Africa.

    What is the idea?

    The ‘EAC Market Place’ is an information product under our business and industry advisory services. Through the EAC Market Place, ATEAS seeks to provide EAC businesses, especially MSMEs with tailored sector specific trade and market intelligence that among others provides an analysis of the market size, growth trends and prospects; the opportunities for export, import and / or investment in the sector, as well as the legal, regulatory and operating environment. EAC Market Place aims to go beyond the rhetoric of 'expanded market' arising from the EAC Common Market Protocol, to actually establish where the opportunities lie in each sector. This we believe will enhance MSMEs knowledge of these sectors, thereby guiding the MSMEs decisions on how to get involved. Under the IIDEA grant, we are producing two guides: for Finished Leather Products and for Processed Fruit Juices.

    Questions and Answers

    What does your organization want to change and what motivates your team regarding to the work of your organization?

    Except for some medium and large companies who have the financial means to undertake their own research (and a number of who are already taking advantage of the expanded market), many MSMEs lack tailored and targeted market information on specific sector opportunities in the EAC, or other sectors that may have good potential. This limitation means that many of these MSMEs often lack the confidence to test new regional markets, perceiving entry into these as too risky and / or too costly. Available support, mainly from governments and donors is usually of a general nature (for example sensitisation on the Common Market Protocol and its provisions); often poorly targeted, and sometimes poor value for money (for example taking companies to general trade fairs, general training on standards and / or export requirements). This lack of information about opportunities in other countries also means that there is lack of synergies across a given sector, where companies may collaborate, specialise and employ economies of scale given the widened market. This is THE GAP that EAC Market Place intends to meet through production of sector specific guides that will tailor information, especially focusing on unveiling opportunities for export, import and investment, be it through joint ventures or any other forms. Availing this information will supplement the general information most companies have on the EAC integration process, thereby aiding in their decision making on participation in the EAC marketplace.

    What do you like the most about your work?

    It is said information / knowledge is power. In our small way, ATEAS / EAC Market Place is contributing to making the EAC regional integration market driven and people-centred. Through the guides and the other work that we do, we are supporting MSMEs to know where and how they can tap into the opportunities arising from the integration processes.

    Which achievement of your organization are you the most proud of and why?

    Being selected for IIDEA incubation has been a major achievement for ATEAS – the IIDEA Committee buying into the EAC Market Place’s value proposition vindicates our believe that providing well researched, tailored and targeted sector information is one of the key ways to ensure MSMEs get involved in the integration process.

    What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

    EAC integration is not an event, nor is the common market a place. Integration is a continuous process that not only involves governments setting the enabling framework in place (which is what many know the process to be), but which also calls on all EAC businesses irrespective of size and all EAC citizens to get involved.

    When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

    As an advisory firm, it is easy to overlook the need to have a clear strategy and formal structures and procedures in place before starting to run the business. In our first year of operation, this saw us taking all manner of assignments and it also cost us several opportunities, especially to partner with larger firms in bidding for business. The key learning - be very clear about your value proposition as a company; the structure within which you are going to actualize it and the resources you need to make it happen.

    What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

    Our greatest obstacle remains sustainability of business given our offering is mainly advisory services to businesses. Many companies in the region are reluctant to spend money on good, targeted and in depth research that is necessary to support their entry / expansion into other EAC markets or to other overseas markets. While they admit that the lack of tailored information is a key challenge to their business growth and to their taking advantage of opportunities arising from the EAC integration process or in global markets, few are ready to invest to secure this information.

Consumer Unity and Trust Society - Centre for International Trade, Economics and Environment (CUTS-CITEE) Nairobi

Integrating the Voices of Civil Society Organisations in EAC Intra-Regional Trade and the AfCFTA

PROJECT - Building the capacity of civil society organisations to understand the implications of the EAC and African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on small holder farmers and informal cross border traders, and engage more effectively in negotiations.

“Imagine being a rural Kenyan farmer, growing crop which is in demand in Uganda but having no understanding of how to sell your product across the border. With the EAC Common Market it should be easy, and you should be benefitting from the cross-border trading opportunities, but without the knowledge of how to go about trading to another country, you remain trading in your much smaller local market and missing out on all the benefits of integration. These are the people who really need to understand the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and engage in the development of the policies to ensure they have every opportunity to profit in the future.”

This is the scenario which Collins Owegi from CUTS describes as the basis of their work. As negotiations in the AfCFTA continue at the continental level, with governments and policymakers making decisions which often have not had an civil society consultation, CUTS, through the IIDEA programme, wants to ensure that grassroots organisations representing the people who will be impacted the most by trade policy, have a voice at the negotiating table too.

By tapping into existing networks of farmers and traders and creating an environment of exchange which will allow grassroots concerns to be fed upwards to the trade negotiation, it is hoped that in future AfCFTA meetings stakeholders' positions will be listened to and heeded.

CUTS will also be researching and creating an Index of EAC civil society organisations, mapping their locations and measuring their strength in trade issues. By adding a ranking, this will help in the future understand which organisations are involved in trade work and who can help with gathering grassroots opinion and feeding it into the trade negotiation processes.

“Functioning cross border trade goes beyond simply ensuring people can easily cross borders with their products and access new markets. It creates jobs and contributes to fairer pricing, and it can create peace and security in communities – the real basis of what the EAC is aiming for.”

Southern Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) - Uganda

Engaging civil society around the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

PROJECT - Engaging civil society around the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) text, ensuring wide ranging feedback and aiming towards a final version of the agreement which encompasses the concerns of farmers, women, the private sector, academia, trade unions and other stakeholders.

With the introduction of the East African Community (EAC) Common Market Protocol and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfTCFTA), many opportunities for businesses and traders opened up across East Africa. But ensuring decision making is made with those who will be most impacted in mind, a process for civil society engagement is needed.

SEATINI’s Programme Officer Trade Policies and Negotiation, Africa Kiiza recognises that there is a wide gulf between small scale farmers and traders and those administrators negotiating the high-level policies. “The African Continental Free Trade Area process has been running for many years, but engagement with civil society has historically not been very inclusive or open, and decision making has not been transparent. We are hoping to change that by facilitating civil society engagement in the process, making sure those who will be most impacted can express their views and ensure any final protocols are going to help, not hinder, actual trade on the ground.”

Creating a more participatory process will involve not only engaging with all stakeholders, but also doing training in advocacy and outreach. For small farmers and traders and many other civil society groups, especially women and youth, even knowing were to begin to get their voice heard is difficult. Bringing in the Trade Unions is also a new but necessary step and coordinating all groups towards a shared position is what SEATINI will be doing under the IIDEA programme.

“Networks already exist, and we will be tapping into these community groups to do training and coordination of positions.” SEATINI will help facilitate meetings with relevant Ministries and negotiators and ensure that all stakeholders are adequately prepared. Creating position papers which represent a united viewpoint and setting up timely interactions before AfCFTA negotiations occur will mean an engaged civil society, informed trade negotiators and, in the end, a regional trade policy which benefits everyone.

“A seamlessly functioning AfCFTA is a huge process, with multiple levels of governments involved. In the past bans and harassment have happened at border posts. Secondary tests – where certificates gotten on one side of the border are not accepted on the other side, requiring a second and costly round of certification, have hindered countless traders. Border closures continue, and it is the people who rely on trade for their livelihoods that are most affected. But if one day it all works, the opportunities are enormous!”

IIDEA partners in this category support the fundamental importance of education, science and technology in economic development through harmonized curricula, examination, certification and accreditation institutions, through ideation and support of scientific and technological research and identifying and developing centres of excellence in the region.

African Centre for Women Information

ICT Opportunities for Women and Youth in EAC Integration, Communication and Technology

Graduating students from the African Centre for Women, Information, and Communications Technology posing for a selfie

PROJECT - Encouraging integration of ICT in Members states in a bid to encourage new trading platforms which are more positively geared towards women and youth.

As information and communications technology (ICT) is bringing the world closer together, there are still segments of the African community which are not tapped into the tech movement, but who would greatly benefit from being so. In the field of cross border trade in particular, ICT is creating new opportunities.

Women are often disadvantaged in trade, for a multitude of reasons. They often have no access to upfront finance, cultural norms and the patriarchy that often comes with operating in the business environment can be inhibiting, the cost of transporting goods and the time it takes away from family commitments also create barriers to taking advantage of trade opportunities.

Constantine Obuya from ACWICT explains the difference ICT can make in overcoming disadvantages. “We want to use technology to bridge the gap for women in trade, giving them every advantage to trade and profit from the EAC Common Market. We see this as a disruption in the trade space, building platforms with more structured and improved access. When suppliers and consumers accessing products - whether agricultural or anything else – can see what’s available, where and at what price instantly, the playing field is levelled and market opportunities are open to all.”

“Partnership is key, and in the first instance we will be tapping into existing networks and working closely with other organisations so we can create a group who can share and learn and exchange experiences to the benefit of all. By providing the platform we envisage it will grow with the women involved. ICT can provide solutions to trade inequalities, and in training and working with women and youth and bringing them into the digital world, their ability to engage with each other and the market will create many opportunities to capitalize on cross border trade.”

AUXFIN Burundi

Digital platform to Assist Young Creative Practitioners

AUXFIN Burundi Staff members participating in National Celebrations in Karusi Province

PROJECT - Using an innovative digital platform to assist young and budding creative practitioners to become entrepreneurial, grow their businesses and engage regionally.

The creative arts are a vibrant and exciting part of East African life – music, art, design are all unique and colourful and a real calling card for the region. But making a living from being an artist, fashion designer or musician is still a challenge, and one which is often turning artists away from the industry. Auxfin Burundi was originally founded to try to “activate and empower” disadvantaged groups, and their IIDEA project plan is to create an online platform and Universal Methods of Value Access (UMVA) system which will connect and grow the regions creative arts.

“The UMVA is essentially a membership organisation and platform which will help build up a community of creative artists and professionals in Uganda and Rwanda and create an environment for them to start profiting from their profession.” says Yannick Chokola, Director General, Auxfin Burundi.

There are so many opportunities to present and sell cultural and creative work, but so often practitioners do not have the networks and links, don’t have the start-up capital to invest in their projects, and aren’t linked to other creative people who have gone before them and know some of the secrets to making it work as a creative professional.

“Joining the platform will also mean access to specific tools developed for the platform and community – financial resources (a group savings scheme and microfinance opportunities), booking platforms and distribution channels for showcasing creative work, access to tools, spaces and facilities which can help in the creative process and might normally cost too much or might be unknown to artists. And also special deals on creative materials through relationships formed with suppliers and retailers.”

“Developing the business skills as well as the creative skills of people who want to make a living through their creativity will mean more artists will succeed in earning a living, and can use their newfound connections and community to reach out to other creatives. The platform will connect and grow and help foster talent, and also bring together businesses who will gain from creative professionals using their space and buying their wares.”

BEKN Global Technologies Limited

Easy Travel East Africa

  • Start and end date of project: July 2018 – December 2018

    Who We Are

    We are an Information Technology company working on improving lives through innovations.

    What is the idea?

    Easy Travel East Africa brings together bus operators in a unified online platform for ticketing and customer support. This platform enables people travelling cross border to plan ahead for their journey through access to real-time information on scheduled trips and pricing without visiting bus stations in person. Based on this information, EAC residents can go ahead to book and reserve seats online/offline and make payments using Mobile Money or cards.

    Through the EAC Common Market Protocol, we intent to empower citizens of all EAC member states through a smooth transport and customer care system there-by bringing value addition to the quality of passenger services.

    Road transport is part of everyone’s daily life in East Africa. We choose to work with the most popular means of transport in the region therefore by bringing orderly, smooth and quality services, we will also bring realizations of the EAC integration closer to the people.

    Questions and Answers

    What does your organization want to change and what motivates your team regarding to the work of your organization?

    Bus travel is the most popular means of transport yet one of the most disorganized sectors in East Africa. The struggles of crowding, insecurity, lack of schedules and poor cash handling at bus stations has resulted in poor passenger services all over the region. With the tough conditions in the travel sector, cross border movement of people and goods is not efficient enough to meet the demands of our fast growing economies.

    We want to bring sanity, order and smoothness in the travel sector by unifying online reservation and passenger customer services to reduce queues/crowding at bus stations. Making travel life easy is our biggest motivation.

    What do you like the most about your work?

    We are pleased to be working on the East African Community integration by contributing towards its realization in one of the most ignored sectors. Being part of our daily lives, we realize more and more areas of improvement in the bus travel sector as we interact with operators both during and after working hours. We like the fact that we are not only working on improving our own lives, but lives of generations to come since we are pace setters for an unending race.

    Which achievement of your organization are you the most proud of and why?

    When our very first online travel platform (Train Tickets Kenya) went live in July 2017, we received over 3,000 demo bookings and over 1,500 enquiries on the first day. To date, we receive enquiries from both local and international travellers seeking to plan their travel. The number was on the rise in the few days after and surpassed our expectations, clearly showing the high demand for online/offline passenger services. This prompted us to go a step further and come up with a more advanced platform that caters for the most popular means of transport in the region, bus travel.

    What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

    We are the change we need, we have the power to shape our tomorrow. Technology is the best tool we can use to shape our future and build a strong foundation that will stand the tests of time in the generations to come. Every business has challenges but in the challenges are hidden opportunities. No empire was built on a single day, therefore patience and perseverance should be a top priority. Remember, improving your own life won’t bring as much happiness and satisfaction as improving the lives of a community, let’s make East Africa the place we want it to be.

    When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

    Considering the impact Easy Travel will have, we wish to have started with it as our first project and have it rolled out about two years ago. By now it would have more stakeholders on board, established loyal passengers and better ground for expansion in the region.

    What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

    Getting finances to facilitate marketing and promotion of our platform around the region has not been easy. We have explored different avenues that could have raised the funds but they all hit a dead end.

Community Empowerment for Rural Development (CEFORD)

EAC Internship App

CEFORD - Students are curious getting support from Technical Person on how Prokaziea works

  • Start and End Date of Project: November 2016 to November 2017

    Who We Are

    CEFORD is an NGO that provides capacity development services to enable disadvantaged women, men, youth, children and their groups/organizations to realize their rights and wellbeing.

    What is the idea?

    The EAC Internship App is a project that aims to bring together the three major players involved in professional learning and development: students, universities and employers. We are providing a solution platform that simplifies the process of accessing internship opportunities and exchange learning by students in East Africa while also easing student supervision by universities. This addresses the challenges faced by students across East Africa in accessing internship opportunities and professional career learning opportunities. The App will match students with posted internship opportunities by companies, organizations or governmental agencies in a common platform, thereby creating a faster means to handle cross-border issues like unemployment across the region.

    Questions and Answers

    What does your organization want to change and what motivates your team regarding to the work of your organization?

    Changing lives and empowering generations with decent livelihoods.

    What do you like the most about your work?

    Impact of our work is being felt at household, community and district level. Our interventions have always been appreciated by the people we target and the communities in which we work in.

    Which achievement of your organization are you the most proud of and why?

    Youth skills development: over 1,500 youth have been trained in agri-skills and have become self-employed and are earning income from agriculture; 100 are trained in ICT multimedia skills and are employed or self-employed; 20 student interns have been absorbed in the job market.

    What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

    Learning and sharing experiences is important among development partners. It is also important to build the capacities of grassroot communities to ensure the sustainability of initiatives started.

    When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

    Strengthening our lobbing and advocacy capacities at the national level. We have strong networks at the grassroots level but need to build links to the national level to share experiences and advocate for policy and practice changes.

    What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

    Funding constraints: some of the projects have phased out, yet there is still overwhelming demand for the services across West Nile region where we operate.

CV People


  • Start and end date of project: July 2018 to December 2018

    Who We Are

    We are a Human Resource and Recruitment Agency which provides professional recruitment services to recruiters and job seekers in East Africa.

    What is the idea?

    Worknasi is an online booking platform which connects freelancers, star-ups, entrepreneurs, businesses and business people on travels with co-working spaces, flexible office spaces and meeting rooms as well as promoting freelancing jobs opportunities around East Africa. Our goal is to facilitate online office space acquisition and promote online freelance job opportunities so cope with the hassle of doing business and to reduce unemployment in East Africa. By using technology in a simple way such as smartphone applications and an online platform, our service are easily accessible to many people around the region. As East Africans we need to use technology to address and solve our challenges such as unemployment. Sharing economy or gig economy is one of the areas we are exploring through Worknasi project.

    Questions and Answers

    What does your organization want to change and what motivates your team regarding to the work of your organization?

    Due to unemployment, there is a high rise of freelancers and millions of young people in East Africa in general starting businesses. All of them share the common problem that there is no easy way of accessing work spaces and freelancing jobs opportunities. And it is quite clear that the world is moving into sharing and gig economy very fast.

    The World Economic Forum, predicts that by 2020 almost 40% of the workforce globally will be working as freelancers and remote workers. More big corporates are opting to work with freelancers rather than employing people on permanent basis and more people also are opting to work remotely.

    We want to provide the tool by using technology for East Africans to easily participate in that new economy. This is our mission and our motivation.

    What do you like the most about your work?

    The fact that we are taking a front seat in steering the digital economy and participating in the 4th Industrial revolution in East Africa through Worknasi project, makes us love what we are doing even more. We are getting to learn new things everyday which challenges us to do more and make us grow.

    Which achievement of your organization are you the most proud of and why?

    In the few years we have been in the business, we were able to change the way companies recruit talents. We have deployed technology in our process which has by far eased the whole recruitment process and has helped us to attract the best candidates. We have helped many young graduates through our employability skills training, to be able to meet the employers needs and get employment.

    What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

    Technology is the way forward - we should embrace it, learn from it and use it to develop our communities. We can do much more positive things with technology and change the narratives of our countries. Technology is a tools which can be used to create employment for our young people in East Africa. Worknasi is an example of implementing this vision.

    When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

    Not really, we believe in learning everyday; so what we have done for the past years has built a foundation for us to be here now and gave us the insights to understand where we want to go. We have learnt from our past mistakes and we used those mistakes to become the successful organization we are today

    What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

    Recruitment is such a multi-disciplinary industry, thus one should know of more than one profession. That is still a challenge for most of us at our organization. But again, we take obstacles as the challenges to continue building our organization. Our team is very energetic with passion of learning and embracing changes.

The East African Sub Regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women (EASSI) & Sauti Africa

Mobile-based trade information and social accountability platform for SMEs engaged in cross-border trade in the EAC

Start and end date of project: May 2017 to December 2017

Who We Are

EASSI is a civil society organization that advocates for the advancement and empowerment of women. Sauti Africa is a mobile based trade information and social accountability platform for East Africa’s cross-border traders.

What is the Idea?

Sauti Africa has partnered with EASSI to pilot a mobile-based trade information and social accountability platform for SMEs engaged in cross-border trade in the East African Community. Our goal is to empower cross-border traders to exercise their rights as citizens of the EAC – able to trade legally, safely and profitably across borders and stand up for their rights with a loud and clear voice. Through our SMS/USSD-based platform, traders can access tailored trade and market information, including border procedures and documentation requirements, exchange rates and market prices for commonly traded commodities. The platform also allows traders to anonymously report incidents of bribery and harassment at border crossings.

Questions & Answers

What do your organizations want to change and what motivates your teams regarding to the work of your organizations?

Informal cross-border trade (CBT) is a major feature of African economies: it creates jobs, contributes to food and energy security, and alleviates poverty. According to UNECA 60% of informal trade in the EAC is carried out by small-scale traders, and 70-80% of these traders are women. Small traders are particularly vulnerable to higher levels of harassment from border officials, including excessive charges, bribe extortion, impounding of goods, sexual harassment and gender-based violence. They are often unaware of their rights as traders and customs procedures and documentation required, and because of this information asymmetry lack the voice to hold officials accountable.

With this project, we aim to address these challenges, ensuring that women traders have quick access to anonymous incident reporting as well as simple and current market and trade information that enables them take advantage of theexisting opportunities in the East African community economic integration process. We are inspired by the opportunity to help solve such major obstacles to progress with a solution that will ultimately lead to an increase in women’s empowerment as well as the value and volume of trade.

What do you like the most about your work?

Knowing that we have a simple, user-friendly and affordable solution to such major challenges is both inspiring and empowering. Our excitement is echoed by all the positive feedback that we have received so far from traders on our platform. Another reward is being able to work every day with talented colleagues who are just as inspired to create positive change in the lives of the women with whom we work.

Which achievements of your organizations are you the most proud of and why?

The enactment of an EAC Gender Equality Bill which we have been campaigning for since it is a regional document that consolidates the many instruments on women in one document. Also, EASSI is proud of having a database of over 7000 women traders from across the East African region with whom we engage.

Sauti Africa

We are humbled that Sauti has been fortunate enough to have received recognition and awards from a number of organizations and initiatives, in addition to the generous support we have received from the GIZ-EAC Incubator for Integration and Development. These include the Hiil Innovating Justice Accelerator, the London School of Economics, the D-Prize Challenge and the African Women in Technology Competition.

What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

Some advice we would give to other people in the region is to continue the work we have already begun. Both Sauti and EASSI believe EAC regional integration has to be above all people-centered and market-driven. As Minister Valentine Rugwabiza of Rwanda expressed EAC integration has to have a “citizen-centered, inclusive and accountable mindset” in order to continue on its path towards an ever closer union (The Guardian 2016[1]). Our joint initiative is well aligned with this vision. Alternatively, we are advocates of the axiom that “Knowledge is power.” As citizens of this region, do your best to equip yourselves with the information on the changing trends of cross border trade to engage in productive trade.

When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

In relation to cross border trade, a pioneering organization in East Africa, we would have liked to have been able to engage with more women at all border points.

Sauti Africa

One of the main lessons we have learned is with regard to developing partnerships. As a young organization getting a seat at the table can be difficult. You need to establish a clear, concise and convincing case to the folks on the other side of the table for them to trust and respect you.

What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

Our greatest difficulty to date with this project has been in sourcing accurate and complete trade information. We plan to allow traders to access tailored information on clearing procedures, documentation, taxes and tariffs applicable to their products through our platform. However, much of this data is either not publicly available or it is not recorded in a transparent manner. Of course, getting any social enterprise off the ground is a challenge, and we too face the classic challenge of fierce competition for funding.

Media for Development International - Tanzania (MFDI)

Swahiliwood: Entertaining Solutions for Regional Integration

Start and end date of project: August 2018 to February 2019

Who We Are

We are an Swahili film, radio and television non-profit organization working to produce and distribute dramatic African social-message films for African audiences on relevant issues around the African every-day life.

What is the idea?

To produce the pilot season (six 5-minute episodes) of a popular Swahili web-series that promotes and advocates EAC integration. We will involve some of the regions most accomplished entertainers (writers, filmmakers and artists) along with EAC experts, to design and develop a program that presents the challenges and benefits of regional integration in a format that appeals to youth audiences from all member states. Our Swahiliwood Youtube channel will deliver and monitor the impact of our intervention among mass audiences across the region. Our objective is to incubate a program that will attract sponsors and investors to sustain the production costs of subsequent seasons of the web series.

Questions and Answers

What does your organization want to change and what motivates your team regarding to the work of your organization?

We want East African youth to recognize, appreciate and seize opportunities and benefits inherent in being citizens of the broader East African Community. Our motivation comes from the enjoyment of harnessing the creative power of entertainment to communicate and motivate audiences to act.

What do you like the most about your work?

Using entertainment to provoke interest and raise awareness around social issues.

Which achievements of your organization are you the most proud of and why?

Producing some of the most popular films, radio and television programs in the region.  We are proud because our programs confront some of the most pressing social issues in the region.

What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

Think locally and act regionally.

When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

Work more effectively with the private sector to make our work more economically sustainable.

What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

Creative sustainability.

National Council of Folklorists of Uganda (NACOFU)

NACOFU-IIDEA Project – Youth Employment (NIP-YE)

Start and end date of project: January 2017 – December 2017

Who We Are

NACOFU is a Ugandan registered NGO that promotes culture and innovation to address the socioeconomic needs of communities.

What is the idea?

The idea is to develop a software system that will act as a platform for young people to access employment opportunities. The platform will expose young people’s academic skills and competences acquired from universities and technical institutions to potential employers. The platform will also enable young East Africans to access necessary qualifications required by potentials employers in order to pursue available opportunities without delay.

Our goal is contribute to reduction in youth unemployment by unleashing the academic, entrepreneurial and cultural skills and competences of young people in Uganda and Kenya.

The platform will identify and link youth skills from various academic disciplines to prospective employers. It will also provide informative newsfeeds to users and link entrepreneurial experts and organizations to interested jobseekers to provide them with entrepreneurial training. This intervention will also utilize the diverse cultural and artistic skills that have been of great interest to young people in the region.

This project will work as a supplement to the existing strategies regarding skill promotion, job creation and employment in East Africa.

Combining aspects of culture, IT, entrepreneurial skills promotion and commercialization could be an effective means of reducing youth unemployment since these are a major interest of the young people, but have not been used in concert to address the issue of youth empowerment in Uganda and Kenya.

Questions and Answers

What does your organization want to change and what motivates your team regarding to the work of your organization?

It is evident to us that serious contemporary issues of society are better address using Information Technology. The outcry about the lack of opportunities for young people is increasing by the day.  On the other hand, our organization is involved in culture promotion which is a major attraction to the young people. This is why our project would like to find linkages within these aspects of society in order to come up with sustainable solutions to the escalating problem of youth unemployment.

Our organization has been involved in various cultural projects where young people have shown great interest and participated in multitudes. These interaction have informed our organisation to the problems faced by young people and drawn our attention to their cause. It became glaringly clear to us that any sustainable development initiatives in this region and era need to take into account the plight of young people. Thus, while our focus for some time has been the development and promotion of cultural expressions, the question of whose culture drew us closer the youth.

What do you like the most about your work?

We do projects among people that have no hope for a happy future. After completing those ventures, we see them beam with the joy of achievement and a renewed resolve to succeed in life.

Which achievement of your organization are you the most proud of and why?

We overhauled James Lugolole’s house and saved his family from death in rubble as their dilapidated house was on the brink of collapsing on them. This last surviving master player of Busoga Kingdom royal trumpets gained new strengths as a result and has taught 90 youths to play those trumpets. Busoga kingdom royal trumpets have, as a result, been saved from extinction.

What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

People in the East African Community need to believe in their own capacity to transform themselves individually and as communities by working hard and creatively harnessing opportunities in the global market economy. To show themselves as unique producers of desirable skills, goods and services; reflecting only on past problems and how to address their impact on the present without dwelling on it.

When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

Young people, who are the majority of our population, were not a major focus in our agenda. We realize the need to include their issues in our project portfolio. Even the preservation of culture that we are involved is more relevant to them as prime movers of issues in society today and in the future.

What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

We are still struggling to find donors. Culture is still not seen as viable driver of the development agenda. As such, our organization, being in cultural spheres, has for some time faced financial resource limitations, which will eventually affect realization of the full potential of our organization.

Nyakitonto Youth for Development Tanzania (NYDT)

EAC Youth Agri-business APP

NYDT Youth presenting their agricultural products

Start and end date of project: July 2018 – January 2019

Who We Are

NYDT is a local NGO in Kigoma, Tanzania working to empower youth.

What is the idea?

The Youth -EAC Agri-business App is a Digital Marketing App aim to engage buyers, producers, processors ,small holder farmers in Kigoma Tanzania and Makamba Burundi .

The App is created to fill this gap of poor access to markets. NYDT will create an online agribusiness trade and market information platform for youth engaged in cross boarder agri-business especially in Tanzania and Burundi. The overall project goal is enhanced cross border market information, skills and experience on agri-business to youth. To achieve this goal we are facilitating flow of right information on agri-business markets, to both crop takers and producer by developing APP and youth platforms, we are doing this project because we need to see number of youth who are engagement in agri-business between Tanzania and Burundi increased.

Questions and Answers

What does your organization want to change and what motivates your team regarding to the work of your organization?

Increase easy communication of youth agri-business between Tanzania and Burundi border that will led improved cross border trade youth agri-business hence many youth are engaging in agri-business between Tanzania and Burundi.

What do you like the most about your work?

Working with partners in supporting and engaging youth on EAC Matters, business, market opportunities and outreach integration in EAC countries like Tanzania and Burundi. Eventually we aim to extend our reach to all EAC Partner States.

Which achievement of your organization are you the most proud of and why?

NYDT is proud to be part of the transformation of the reality of small holder farmers. NYDT is working with more than 2170 Village Based Agricultural Advisors (VBAAs), 75 Government Extension Officer, 23 Interns and the most important is our strategy to transform 170,000 small holder’s farmers in Kigoma,Tanzania. NYDT is proud to establish the Youth EAC Agribusiness App to reach all farmers and buyers across the border in Burundi and other EAC countries, collaborating with other partners like CADRE in Burundi to help youth in agribusiness sector.

What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

To maintain peace in our countries in order to create enough room for EAC members to participate fully in integration cross border trade and economic growth.

When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

There were many things challenging us over the last years and up to today. First of all we would name organizational growth in terms of organizational capacity in managing projects, the number of project implemented at the same time has increased as well as the number of employees. On the other side our organization operations widen in reaching more than 170,000 beneficiaries. Hence, the use of digital agrimarket technology is required. Hereby we aim specifically to online communication like App platforms, Facebook, Instagram. Our current challenge is to produce EAC Youth Agri-business App in two languages: Swahili and English.

What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

The greatest obstacle facing our organization is inaccessible markets for agricultural products. NYDT is working with more than 170,000 farmers who are producing maize, cassava, beans and vegetables, and producing tons of crops but the big challenge is the inefficiency of reliable markets information. Farmers are not aware about buyers and prices. In solving this problem as organization we are working in partnership with IIDEA -GIZ to develop the Agri-business APP for linking youth engaging in agri-business sector, in EAC -cross border trade.

Pro-Femmes / Twese Hamwe (PFTH)

Enhanced Market Access for Women cross-border traders of grains in Gatuna and Cyanika (EMAW)

Start and end date of project: October 2017 – September 2018

Who We Are

Pro-Femmes / Twese Hamwe (PFTH) is a civil society umbrella organization aimed at women’s empowerment, peace building, gender equality promotion and development.  Since its inception, the organization has achieved great milestones including influencing national policy reforms and laws in favor of women empowerment, building capacity of women in leadership skills, and gender equality. Pro-Femmes/ Twese Hamwe has carried out evidence based advocacy and encouraged women to participate in elections and decision making processes. Pro-Femmes/ Twese Hamwe has also facilitated socio-economic empowerment of women through relevant programs in poverty reduction, health, education and provision of legal aid services for gender based violence victims.

What is the idea?

The project idea is about using mobile based applications for enhanced market access for women cross border traders of grains (mainly maize, sorghum and beans) at the border between Rwanda and Uganda.  The rationale of the project intervention is to strengthen market information for women cross border traders.  On one side, the project will identify key women cross border traders from Rwanda and Uganda involved in grains cross border trade and facilitate them to access market information. On the other hand, the project will also identify key buyers for the same products on both sides and link them with the identified women cross border traders. This will be achieved through providing women cross border traders with mobile applications and programs that can benefit their businesses.

Questions and Answers

What does your organization want to change and what motivates your team regarding to the work of your organization?

PFTH aims to increase knowledge and build skills for 100 women cross border traders on using mobile application at Cyanika-Gisoro and Gatuna-Katuna border of Rwanda and Uganda; linking them to the buyers of these products. We moreover want to facilitate grain products diversification to enable women cross border traders at Cyanika-Gisoro and Gatuna-Katuna to explore bigger markets

What do you like the most about your work?

What we like the most in our work is to see how women enjoy their rights, hold decision making  positions and become economically empowered resulting from advocacy, capacity building, financial support and other interventions.

Which achievement of your organization are you the most proud of and why?

PFTH contributed on putting in place National gender policy, Girls’ Education Policy and Decentralization policy and empowered women to participate in decision making positions by training them through ‘WOMEN CAN DO IT’ program. One of the results of this program the ever increasing number of women in decision making positions (in parliament, district councils, district executive Committees, etc).

What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

To be successful in any work field it is needed to strengthen relationships and networks with important actors in the area of focus. As civil society organizations in the region, we need to work together and share the common agenda on gender equality.

When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

We need to involve more media as major partners in the work we do around gender equality and prevention of gender based violence.

What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

The greatest obstacle we are still facing is the misunderstanding of gender equality that leads to gender based violence and other issues opposed to the promotion of women’s rights.

Adopting common approaches towards the disadvantaged and marginalized groups, including women, children, the youth, the elderly and persons with disabilities aimed at employment creation, poverty alleviation and improving working conditions.

Base for Education Dissemination (BED)

Stories of Women in Cross-Border Trade in Kenya and Tanzania

Some of the Participants from Mwanza Province, Tanzania, after undertaking a training by Base for Education (BED)

PROJECT - Documenting and publishing the experiences and success stories of women in cross-border trade in the Mara region of Tanzania and Migori in Kenya with a view to encouraging more women to recognise the competitive advantage of regional trade opportunities and become involved

There is nothing more impactful than hearing someone tell their personal story. Whether talking about challenges or successes, there is always a lesson to take away, and the very act of sharing makes the story more impactful and engaging. BED, through the IIDEA programme, will be recording the stories and experiences of women traders along the Kenyan and Tanzanian border, with a view to sharing these experiences and encouraging other women to become involved in business and cross border trade opportunities.

Tapping into existing CSO networks and women’s groups, they will record videos and do interviews with women traders. By leading focus group discussions and giving women a questionnaire to answer, the hope is to collect their views and experiences around cross border trade, the difficulties they face and any solutions they themselves see.

“This is definitely a project which can be scaled up in the future, looking at the borders between Uganda and Tanzania, Burundi and Tanzania and the DRC and Tanzania. A lot of mostly informal cross border trade is carried out by women along these borders, and where we think there will be great value in hearing and sharing their thoughts.” says Nicas Nibengo from BED.

The final goal of the project is to collate a booklet and a series of videos to present to relevant Ministries dealing with trade and women’s issues, as well as Trade Unions and civil society advocacy organisations. One of the main audiences through is the women themselves, and a larger network of women who, through the sharing of knowledge and experiences, may be enticed to become more involved in cross border trade. By taking their experiences to government and a wider audience, the challenges these women currently face may be acted upon and trade barriers eased, for the benefit of all.

Bayimba Cultural Foundation

DOADOA | East African Performing Arts Market

  • Start and End Date of Project: January – December 2017

    Who We Are

    We are Bayimba and we promote arts within East Africa!

    What is the idea?

    DOADOA | East African Performing Arts Market was initiated to develop the East African market for performing arts into the leading professional networking platform for regional industry professionals in the performing arts business. We want to cause a gradual growth in the identification and exposure of East African performing arts within and beyond the region. This project will enable East African artists and industry professionals to receive exposure, both regionally and internationally, and find new markets by providing platforms to showcase and promote themselves. Additionally, we seek to contribute in joint lobby and advocacy activities for national and regional support towards the cultural and creative industry. This will be achieved by Event Programming, Event Planning, Production Compilation CD, Marketing and Publicity and Promotion elsewhere. DOADOA works towards the big dream of East African integration that is reinforcing social and economic development across the region through the cultural and creative industry.

    Questions and Answers

    What does your organization want to change and what motivates your team regarding to the work of your organization?

    We work towards developing the state of arts and culture in Uganda and East Africa so that it can become more vibrant and contribute to socio-economic development. What motivates the team is the ability to meet or manage the demanding programs of the organization.

    What do you like the most about your work?

    The challenge of staying relevant to our market – the public.

    Which achievement of your organization are you the most proud of and why?

    The establishment of DOADOA as a regional platform for performing arts and maintaining it for five years. Also, working in collaboration and coordination with other partners from the six member states has been one of the most exciting experiences.

    What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

    Speaking for the creative arts in East Africa, the level of vibrancy we celebrate today has been achieved due to the ever growing efforts of collaboration and exchanges. We always have to keep that window open.

    When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

    Bayimba’s programming has come to be seen as very ambitious and robust. Sometimes it creates tension with the team due to the demands of not only audiences, but artists alike. Something I would do differently: plan, a little less.

    What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

    Financial sustainability – the never ending struggle to keep our programmes running and seek new partnerships to keep the organization financially healthy.

Boutiq Foundation

Hakuna Kulala: East African Young Producer Incubator

  • Start and end date of project: August 2018 to January 2019

    Who We Are

    Boutiq Foundation is a Ugandan community-based arts and culture incubator with a global vision to set up East Africa’s first music label geared towards releasing new musical genres from the East Africa.

    What is the idea?

    Hakuna Kulala is Incubator and a digital label for Young Producers in East Africa. Through collaborations we were able to create many bridges within the region, creating opportunities to collaborate, to travel, perform and develop a strong regional identity through music. Our value proposition is 3-fold: I. To offer a space for artist development, music productions, workshops and collaborations, based primarily in Kampala with satellite studios currently in Dar Es Salaam and Gulu. II. To run a digital label focused on urban music, called hakuna kulala, with a strong following regionally and worldwide and serving as a perfect launch platform for young artists music from the region. III. An artist agency/management structure that benefits artists with performance opportunities, proper communication materials and advice on career management.

    Questions and Answers

    What does your organization want to change and what motivates your team regarding to the work of your organization?

    Boutiq wants the great music from inspiring young people in the region of East Africa to reach the world - from Singeli of Dar Es Salaam to the Bengatronix of Kenya to electro Kadodi from Mbale and the Acholi electronic music from Gulu to the indigenous hip-hop from South Sudan. We want to be the portal for the discovery as well as incubation and production of quality underground East African music.

    What do you like the most about your work?

    Hakuna Kulala means our studios and activities never stop, and making music is at the heart of what we do. By building a strong community of artists, everyone is able to share and learn from one another.

    Which achievement of your organization are you the most proud of and why?

    Many items make us proud, but the recognition of industry peers is really a sign that you are doing something well. People often think of us for our music and our festival, but the same way we apply last mile incubation to music, we also adapt it to film. The first year we organized Nyege Nyege Festival was also the same time we produced a young Director called Arnold Aganze. "NGO: Nothing Going On", a 100% East African production, went on to win many awards and screen in over 30 countries worldwide. This was our first award, Best African Feature at the Mashariki Film Festival, and a proof that everything is possible when the right people put their talent, hard work and passion into it.

    What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

    Go and let music give you a voice.

    When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

    Even looking back we would do most things the same. But always as a team, as a community. We learned that this is the most important.

    What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

    For a long time Boutiq Foundation was functioning on the strength of its collective and all the hours put into implementing our programs, with no funds. This year, thanks to IIDEA, we've managed to hire people on a long term and paid basis, and that will make us even stronger and ready to take our organization to the next level.

Culture and Development East Africa (CDEA)

CDEA Creative Economy Incubator for EAC’s Fashion and Design Accessories, Film and Music Industries

  • Start and end date of project: October 2016 –March 2017

    Who We Are

    We are a creative think tank, which provides technical and business support to creatives.

    What is the idea?

    The project focuses on mobility of creatives in the film, music, fashion and design industries from Uganda to participate in incubator activities in Tanzania. The goal of the project is to help East African creative entrepreneurs in artistic industries to acquire technical and business knowledge that will make them regionally competitive. This will be achieved through training, coaching and mentoring, exposure visits, showcasing and marketing creative products, networking and learning between incubatees and connecting investors and to potential incubatees. CDEA is implementing this project because it will enhance economic growth of the cultural and creative industries through the mobility of creative entrepreneurs in East Africa.

    Questions and Answers

    What does your organization want to change and what motivates your team regarding to the work of your organization?

    CDEA would like to ensure that the film, music fashion and design industries gain both technical and business development skills to be able to enter the market and be competitive within the EAC. As a creative think tank that provides a leadership platform, we want to improve the creative sector through structured workplace learning, incubation, research & advocacy and capacity building for social change.

    What do you like the most about your work?

    We like the fact that CDEA has carved out a niche into design and developed evidence-based programmes that place culture at the centre of development in East Africa.

    Which achievement of your organization are you the most proud of and why?

    CDEA has carried out value chain studies in the film and music sector and also an analysis of industry-specific framework conditions relevant for the development film and music industries in Tanzania. The findings of these studies led to CDEA’s discussion to establish a Creative Economy Incubator and Accelerator Initiative that aims to provide both technical and business development skills.

    What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

    Arts and culture have a role to play in promoting social cohesion and regional integration as well as economic development. We need to promote them for betterment of East Africa.

    When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

    Our Strategic Plan appears to be too ambitious for some activities. However, we have extended the timeline for the establishment for an arts development infrastructure in Dar es Salaam by 5 years.

    What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

    The greatest challenge has been resource mobilization to fund our 2015-2018 Strategic Plan.

Danceteam Africa

Performance Art for Youth Africa (PAYA)

Ugandan traditional dances at the cultural night of Jamafest 2017 at the Uganda National Theatre

Start and end date of project: November 2016 to December 2016

Who We Are

Danceteam Africa is an NGO working in the field of culture and youth

What is the idea?

PAYA is joined project by the DEN GRI Foundation & Danceteam Africa that trains young East-African artists in the performance arts. The goal of the project is to provide the young artists of East Africa with the tools to create and implement projects in their communities and create opportunities for co-operation and cultural exchange between artists of East African countries. The project consists of 4 stages: 1) training of the young Artists by African and European experienced artists; 2) implementing 6 simultaneous projects with local youth in Kisumu and Arusha; 3) gathering together all the artists from both Kenya and Tanzania for the final festival; 4) establishing the East African Young Artists Network (EAYAN) to continue reinforcing East African cooperation between artists.

Questions and Answers

What does your organization want to change and what motivates your team regarding to the work of your organization?

Dancetam Africa wants to create opportunities through culture and the arts. We encourage young artists to become professionals and find employment in these fields. We wish to make people see how being an ‘artist’ can be a proper profession and how culture can change lives.

What do you like the most about your work?

We enjoy working with young, local artists who have the passion and drive to learn, but are simply missing the tools and opportunities to express their creativity. Seeing the development of individuals working with us is most rewarding and makes us want to continue.

Which achievement of your organization are you the most proud of and why?

Danceteam Africa is fairly new organization. But within less than two years, we have managed to be involved in great projects and work with established organizations (this project being one good example!).

What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

Art and culture is a strong form of expression and can help to break walls and build bridges.

When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

There are, of course, some small things that could have been done better in the past with hindsight. But all these experiences have made us grow into who we are now and set us a on a good footing to grow further.

What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

One thing we struggle with is stereotypes of the arts and how they are seen in the local communities. Many families do not wish their children to become artists, but to get a ‘real job’. Also, the appreciation of hard work of performing artists is yet not widely appreciated and they often have to settle for less than minimum salaries. We wish to change these attitudes towards being more positive about the arts.

East Africa Art Biennale Association (EASTAFAB)

Moving Art across East African Borders

Start and end date of project: November 2016 to January 2018

Who We Are

We are an NGO that promotes East African art and artists.

What is the idea?

The idea of moving artworks from Dar Es Salaam to the East African regional capitals in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi to showcase mini-Biennales is a part of activities of the November 2017 Biennale. Since 2003, neither the general public nor the artists themselves in the participant countries have ever been able to view the exhibitions. The aim here is to cement cultural integration in the area of visual arts. The movement of the artworks is done by a branded truck and the media will be involved to generate record-breaking attendance from the general public to the exhibitions.

Questions and Answers

What does your organization want to change and what motivates your team regarding to the work of your organization?

Our organization seeks to improve the role of artists in terms of their knowledge, work, participation and say in society as well as their economic conditions. Our team, who work as volunteers, is motivated by our vision to see art playing a central role in the progress of the society one day. The fact that practical possibilities now exist in term of communication and technology means that artists are progressively waking up from their plight and recognizing this possibility. The Moving Art across East African Borders project shows what can be done to achieve these goals.

What do you like the most about your work?

Our source of satisfaction is derived from supporting contemporary artists and their work from conception to finished artworks, from where it has the potential to be seen and interpreted by society. When we see art exhibited, sold, discussed, criticized, change opinions and drive human thinking by either altering preconceived ideas or changing them altogether.

Which achievement of your organization are you the most proud of and why?

Since the foundation of this organization in 2003, every two years we have been able to hold exhibitions and print catalogues which showcase artists and their work.

What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

For the people of East Africa to change their perspective and look at East Africa as a single common market, thereby integrating the region further so we can all reap benefits of a larger market. The whole idea should practically go down to the grassroots.

When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

We would involve a wider range of stakeholders.

What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

Securing of enough funding to meet our budgets.

Undertaking joint action towards the prevention and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases and to control pandemics and epidemics of communicable and vector-borne diseases that might endanger the health and welfare of the residents of the Community and cooperating in facilitating mass immunization and other public health community campaigns.

Advanced Smart Solutions Limited (ASSL)

Project: SmartPharma ‘A New Prescription for More Effective Health Care in East Africa’

Project duration: September 2021 – March 2022

‘In Kenya as well as in other East African countries, small clinics, pharmacies, and drug shops provide over 70% of Primary Health Care. Still, pharmacies lack an easy-to use tool that allows them to understand sales, margins, and stock-levels. This lack of basic business and logistical insights can lead to stockouts of essential medicines and limits their ability to generate information needed to access preferential discounts from suppliers. We are working with these primary health care entities to reverse this situation.’ This statement by Tirus Wanyoike, Founder & CEO Advanced Smart Solutions Limited (ASSL), describes the basic idea behind the project SmartPharma ‘A New Prescription for More Effective Health Care in East Africa’, which aims at reducing unsafe medication practices and medication errors that are a leading cause of injury and avoidable harm in health care systems across East Africa.

Most of the health units involved in the final steps of dispensing drugs to the end user in East Africa are staffed by entry level healthcare workers. These workers have limited drug dispensing technical knowledge, and they lack access to accurate and updated drug information. They also struggle with getting affordable and quality drug supplies due to the fragmented last-mile pharmaceutical supply chain and low-volume orders. This adversely affects the quality and cost of care to patients.

The SmartPharma project enhances the traceability of drugs across East Africa, allowing for trade facilitation and market access for pharmaceutical products within the EAC Partner States. By connecting pharmacies with key pharmaceutical distributors in East Africa, the project aims at promoting sharing of trade information, technological innovation and cross-border mobility of technical resources and goods within the pharmaceutical space. It also aims to develop a single integrated platform that will allow health centres to seamlessly connect with its supply chain from the EAC under a pooled procurement system. This includes access to a regional essential medicines list through strategic partnership with East African Pharmaceutical Loci ( and the East African Community Medicines Regulatory Harmonization (EAC-MRH) Programme. This trusted end-to-end platform for pharmaceutical products across East Africa will improve the efficiency of the Pharmaceutical Distribution Chain in East Africa and provide healthcare practitioners with accurate drug information reinforced by an Electronic Expert Support System (EESS).

‘Giving community pharmacies access to updated drug information and an Electronic Expert Support System together with providing continuous professional development for pharmacists in the field will enhance their skills largely and greatly reduce medication errors, which are still among the most common health threatening mistakes affecting proper patient care in the EAC region,’ points out Tirus Wanyoike.

Twitter: @ktirus
Mobile: +2547 238 852 09

The EAC Cross-Border Telemedicine Platform Project

Project duration: September 2021 – March 2022

Poor accessibility to healthcare among EAC cross-border truckers, traders and border residents exposes these groups to great medical risks. This in turn increases the risk of cross-border transmission of diseases and epidemics across East Africa, affecting integration efforts and cross-border trade.

There is good news though. Supported by German Development Cooperation through the EAC-GIZ Incubator for Integration and Development in East Africa (IIDEA) and the African Development Bank through its Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund, LyfPlus Limited is developing the “EAC Cross-Border Telemedicine Platform Project”.

The project aims at improving healthcare accessibility for vulnerable population groups, including pregnant women, children, cross-border truck drivers, traders, and border residents along the East African transport corridors and at border posts. The platform will integrate virtual physician consultation, hospital appointment booking, diagnosis and e-prescription with various healthcare providers to allow users across EAC region to access important medical services instantly and conveniently in one place.

Current Stage of the Project

Currently, the LyfPlus team is rolling out the first version of the integrated platform for testing (in Android operating system and web) and has onboarded a few doctors to participate. The project will also onboard a select group of patients necessary for product validation in assessment of the platform towards reaching product market-fit (PMF). The platform will also feature a voice call and an SMS-based application to include patients that do not have internet access, in reaching a greater proportion of the target beneficiaries.

Expected outcome of the Project

The project will contribute to better accessibility of health services. In particular, it will improve access to medical specialists for remote regions and vulnerable population groups across the East African region. It will have a direct impact on maternal and child health and chronic disease patients living in marginalized settings. This can reduce child and maternal mortality rates and contribute to greater continuity of health care for patients with chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes or HIV.

Project Website: Please visit for more information about the project.

Baho International Hospital – Rwanda

Online portal for Health in Rwanda and Tanzania

PROJECT – Creating an online platform which will help patients find the health care treatment facility for their specific ailment, and interact with medical professionals online in Rwanda and Tanzania

When people in rural areas fall ill, or require medical treatment, their options are very limited.  Sometimes they travel very long distances to the only hospital or medical facility they know. But sometimes this facility does not have the right equipment or the right doctor, and it isn’t until they have travelled so far that they learn this. We are developing an online Health Services platform which will help rural people – infact anyone – to identify the best medical facility for their needs straight away, and give them all the information they need before they travel or spend money.” says Jean Paul Tuyishime, from Baho International Hospital in Rwanda.

Targeted people in Rwanda and Tanzania, especially women in rural areas, “The programme will inform potential patients about the services offered around their country – and eventually around the EAC. People will get the price estimate of treatment, can book an appointment with the doctor immediately via the app, and also get advice through the platform before even having to go and see a doctor.”

Rwanda is pushing ahead with digital integration across the country so even in rural areas connectivity is usually good. Tanzania is a much larger country and reception is not as widespread, however most people have mobile phones, and even if they aren’t smart phones this Healthcare Community Portal will also be available on email, SMS, and for phone calls too.

Where patients are still very rural, the furthest they will have to travel initially is to the nearest village with network coverage – which is still much less than long journeys to health care facilities in the beginning.

The Health Services Portal will list partnering heath care facilities, list doctors and their services and specialities, list health insurance partners, provide doctor schedules, provide the opportunity to make an appointment and give cost and payment information, send an SMS reminder for the appointment and also provide a way for people to communicate with their healthcare professionals from home.



clinicPesa concept development presentation

  • Start and end date of project: June 2016 to June 2017

    Who We Are

    CreativeDNA is an information technology company that uses innovative, real-time technologies to solve our communities’ day-to-day problems

    What is the idea?

    ClinicPesa is a very secure, fast, reliable and trailblazing real-time digital platform. It empowers low income earners, insurance under-served as well as corporates to plan for their future healthcare needs and those of their loved ones by setting aside funds in a cumulative manner to offset their medical bills in time of need at any registered healthcare facility within the East African region. Many people in our communities are uninsured due to fear of losses in case they don't use their insurance as well as the high cost of becoming insured. This leads to a lack of funds when they get ill, which increases mortality rates.

    Questions and Answers

    What does your organization want to change and what motivates your team regarding to the work of your organization?

    Individuals are worried about losing the funds they spend on insurance in case they don’t get ill. Thus, they end-up not getting insured. Businesses on the other end are not motivated to insure their employees due to costs incurred in the cases where their employees use only a given percentage of the insured sum. Using secure, faster technologies and expertise, we at CreativeDNA want to empower our communities within the East African region to prepare for their health care services easily and gain peace of mind.

    We do so by providing a secure platform that will enable them set aside funds for themselves and their families so that in case they get ill, they are prepared to easily offset their medical bill – in this case their funds don’t expire, but earn an annual bonus. We are looking at extending the same technologies with the drug supply system whereby patients will be able to easily find the nearest cheapest doctor's prescribed medication and purchase it using the same platform when health facilities lack the medicine.

    We believe that for a healthy and productive region, everyone should be well prepared and able to pay for all their healthcare needs anywhere and at any time.

    It’s our joy and motivation to see every individual in the region get access to affordable healthcare services while creating more jobs, paying taxes and enhancing integration within the region by using our expertise.

    What do you like the most about your work?

    The fact that we use our expertise to solve the problems of our communities, save lives as well as make people’s livelihoods better comes with limitless opportunities for our communities. It is just so inspiring and keeps us moving stronger as a team.

    Which achievement of your organization are you the most proud of and why?

    creativeDNA has in past two years focused on empowering citizen journalism through our NTVGo mobile Application, as well as pushing policymakers to address the challenges faced in the different communities and institutions that otherwise would never have been brought to light. We have also been able create indirect jobs in communities. The ability of the people to use their phones to watch television, get informed and tell the world what’s happening in every corner of their communities is more than amazing. These technologies are in place since the media cannot have a journalist in every corner of the country.

    What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

    Let’s, each in our own capacity, contribute towards building a better tomorrow. It does not matter how young you are, let’s use our talents and the great minds, to change our communities. Make every opportunity in our lives count. In addition to prayer, be patient and persistent towards achieving your business goals. A business can grow not because you have a lot of money, but because you give it your best. Hold your clients with proper esteem and give them quality services.

    When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

    We would have started innovating and automating the healthcare sector sooner. The reason being, the health sector is a very important sector for each one of us. With regards to technology, it’s been left behind. Innovators keep innovating in different sectors and end up forgetting health sector as a key sector for growth.

    What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

    Reaching out to the customers who want to use your service/product hasn’t been an easy task, because being we are like a distribution network that involves, telecoms, banks, health facilities, aggregators for specific gateways. Acquiring these partnerships has not been an easy journey, particularly getting finances for particular product implementation. I can confirm that, as a local service provider, it’s been very hard to get international investors.

Eastern African Network of AIDS and Health Organizations

The EAC Digital Travel Companion

PROJECT - Developing a digital platform that maps out essential health services, especially along border regions in Kenya and Tanzania – for use on smart and non-smart phones.

As crossing borders in the EAC has become easier, so too has the ability to access health care in multiple countries. But many people are still unsure about travelling and what will be available in another country, and whether they will be able to cater to their health care needs elsewhere.

EANNASO is developing an app with the IIDEA programme support which will map out cross border health care facilities with a view to both providing a valuable community service but also creating an environment where people are aware of exactly what services they have in their district and region, whether there is a border in between or not.

As Onesmus Mlewa Kalama, Programme Manager, Technical Support, EANNASO says “Sometimes the nearest health care provider is just on the other side of the border, not a five hour drive away. This knowledge and the ability to cross the border in a health emergency, or simply for a regular appointment, will radically change the lives of people along the Kenyan and Tanzanian border.”

The app will map out where all health care services are with a particular emphasis on the border between Kenya and Tanzania in the first instance, but with a view to scaling up in the future. This will cover hospitals and clinics and major pharmacies too, listing the services and opening hours of each and in the future also adding the ability to make an appointment through the app platform.

Of course not everyone has a smart phone, but the project has this covered, with a system for non-smart phone users to also access the information when they need it. “We are aware that not everyone has a phone of any kind, so are also targeting regional health outreach workers, who can access the app and help the people in their region with the information they need.”

Publicising the app will include working closely with border officials, creating awareness among border communities and outreach health care workers and providers. “Expanding the concept is an obvious future step, and one that will benefit all communities across the EAC in the future.”

Health Healing Network Burundi (HHNB)

Mobile Platform 4 M-Health

Start and end date of project: October 2018 – February 2019

Who We Are

Health Healing Network Burundi (HHNB) is a public health organization that seeks to improve health of Citizens of the EAC region.

What is the idea?

The idea is to establish a Mobile platform for Maternal Health that seeks to improve antenatal care (ANC) attendance among pregnant women in rural health setting of Burundi and Rwanda. It enables healthcare providers to track and remind pregnant women for ANC attendance and through providing real time information needed for maternal health education. The ultimate goal is to improve pregnancy outcomes by avoiding maternal and neonatal deaths and complications including HIV vertical transmission in rural settings of Burundi and Rwanda. The rationale behind this project is the high rates of maternal and neonatal deaths and complications including HIV mother-to-baby transmission happening in most of rural and hard-to-reach settings in the target countries.

Questions and Answers

What does your organization want to change and what motivates your team regarding to the work of your organization?

HHNB wants to bring a positive impact in peoples’ lives by fixing identified bottlenecks. HHNB uses the bottom-up approach to seize the real problems of the communities and to ensure inclusive participation in solution-finding processes. We are public-health oriented with focus on reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health (RMNCAH). Our team, a multidisciplinary team composed of Medical Doctors and other Scientists (Mathematics, Economics, Psychology, Geography, etc.), is motivated by the mounting evidence of ways to improve public health. In fact, evidence-based solutions (such as technology-based initiatives) have proven efficacy and efficiency in improving public health. Our team aims to build on this evidence in improving health of Citizens of Burundi and the EAC region.

What do you like the most about your work?

Of our work, we are satisfied by the team commitment and investment. Most of us have post-graduate education but will voluntarily accept to commit 15 to 20 hours a week at HHNB office. Another aspect that makes our pride is collaboration with stakeholders at local, national, and international levels. Also, our achievements are not a least to mention. For instance, we have received a WHO recognition and Special Award #World No Tobacco Day Award 2018. For more info, visit the link.

Which achievement of your organization are you the most proud of and why?

We are mostly proud of the promulgation of the new Public Health Act that is WHO FCTC-compliant (Framework Convention on Tobacco Control). Back in 2005, the Government of Burundi ratified the WHO FCTC but did not domesticate the content through national policy or law. Sources cite the implication of Tobacco industry which came to block the process of WHO-FCTC domestication. In 2012, HHNB energetically embarked on the journey which came to be successful in April 2018. HHNB collaborated with Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, WHO, The Parliament, Policy Laws and the media to advocate for WHO FCTC-compliant policy adoption in Burundi. The process came to be extremely tough because Tobacco industry blocked the process. Latter on, HHNB decided to drop off all the parties and work with MPs only. The success of this project has been highly recognized by stakeholders. For instance, WHO Director General awarded the #Special World No Tobacco Day Award to Dr Desire Habonimana and HHNB while BBC world News reported the news on June 10, 2018. There are many other achievements, but this one stood out and deserves spreading.

What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

We are responsible of our destiny. Our countries invested a lot in our education; we are a cornerstone for development and we all have something special that would be useful to our communities. Thus, we should all think of giving back to our countries and bringing our skills to the development of schools to innovate our systems. We need to bear in minds that we hold the future and development of our respective countries within our hands, and so plan to lead our countries towards a sustainable development.

When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

We are happy with our approach and strategy though fundraising remains a challenge.

What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

The organization continues to face financially challenges to implement planned activities.

IIDEA partners under this area contribute to Improved competitiveness of the industrial sector so as to enhance the expansion of trade in industrial goods within the Community and the export of industrial goods from the Partner States.

The Consultative Women Umbrella of Associations in the Great Lakes Region (COCAFEM/GL)

How Informal Cross Border Trade Changed Her Life

COCAFEM/GL organizing a Conference

  • Start and End Date of Project: February – December 2018

    Who We Are

    COCAFEM-GL is a regional organization created in 2001 by women organizations from three countries, namely: Burundi, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. The umbrella intervene in the promotion of women’s rights, gender promotion, women participation in governance, political leadership, Peace and security, economy and fight against sexual and gender based violence over 16 recent years.

    What is the idea?

    The idea is to document and showcase the experiences and success stories of informal cross border women traders on cross border trade with the view of inspiring other women in Burundi and Rwanda. It also proposed that the project will showcase how gender based violence has been reduced as a result of cross trade activities for women involved.  In Rwanda and Burundi, women contribute to the big percentage of the population, this articulates that, empowering women and financially transforming their lives, the results extend to the entire family, nation and the whole region. The end result of this initiative as bigger picture is to ensure that, women who are involved in informal cross border trade becomes champion for their own empowerment and inspiration their fellow women who would like to join informal cross border trade activities and EAC economic opportunities. COCAFEM GL would also like to establish a strategic accountability network of women for dialogue on cross border trade barriers with the relevant public offices

    Questions and Answers

    What does your organization want to change and what motivates your team regarding to the work of your organization?

    COCAFEM-GL was born to encourage the participation of women in regional and national development programs, contribute to the promotion of women in governance and leadership positions, emerging economic power, gender equality and promotion of women’s rights as well as conducting advocacy on the effectiveness and adoption of the legal instruments, at national, regional and international level in favor of women, girls and children.

    What do you like the most about your work?

    How COCAFEM/GL managed to create space for women ’s dialogue,  and decision makers, as well as creating space for accountability between different actors namely the governments at national and regional levels, civil society organizations and partners …. for the women cause.

    Which achievement of your organization are you the most proud of and why?

    Some of the achievements are taking care of 10270 victims of gender based violence in holistic manner, including psychologically , legally, medically and  socio-economically. Secondly we advocated for the elaboration of National Action Plan for gender based violence in Burundi, DRC and Rwanda and thirdly we conducted research on the discriminatory policies and laws against women which hinder the promotion of women’s rights and gender equality.

    What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

    We cannot achieve a sustainable development, governance, peace and security if women are not the key actors and decision makers at different level. The effective participation at all levels is a milestone for any development plan and for its sustainability as well as its accountability and transparency.

    When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

    The vision and mission of COCAFEM / GL is to keep with the logic to work towards to the protection, promotion of women rights, empowering them in governance, leadership, economy, gender promotion and peace building. In additional COCAFEM/GL programs will continue to be guided and aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), African Union Agenda 2063, economic and trade instruments of CEPGL, EAC, COMESA and ICGLR, as well as instruments aimed to protect, promote women's rights, peace and security, gender equality, women and governance and the fight against all forms of violence and discrimination against women, girls and children.

    What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

    Limited financial resources and few donors and partners are interested to support regional programs and institutional support.

DMT Consultants Ltd.

An EAC Women Cross Border Traders’ Cooperative Society Accelerator

DMT training for cross-border traders and women entrepreneurs

Start and end date of project: November 2018 to February 2019

Who We Are

We are enterprise development experts.

What is the Idea?

Our project is an East African Women Traders’ Cooperative Accelerator. In a “pressure cooker” environment, we will equip three different women’s trading cooperatives located in Busia, Kenya, Busia Uganda and Owino Market Kampala, to better serve their mandates. In doing so we will contribute to the cooperatives’ sustainability and increase member incomes as we increase their participation in regional trade.

Questions & Answers

What do your organizations want to change and what motivates your teams regarding to the work of your organizations?

We wish to promote economic empowerment and help the communities we work with create wealth. We are motivated by the visible changes and improvements in the quality and standards of living for the communities we work with.

What do you like the most about your work?

Our work changes lives for the better.

Which achievements of your organizations are you the most proud of and why?

Sensitizing over 4,800 women traders in Uganda on the EAC trade rules and regulations in a 3 months period. The majority of the women were unaware of their rights under the EAC Common Market Protocol so the information we provided to them was eye-opening and a) led to women urban traders to begin exploring cross border trade and b) gave the participants in close proximity to border locations, the courage to question and challenge border agencies that were not operating in line with what they had learned.

What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

Eliminate chaos – it wastes time and money. Get organized. Create structures and operate within them – you will be amazed at the results.

When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

We wish there was a way for us to reach more micro, small and medium sized information with our enterprise development expertise.

What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

Our small footprint remains something we would like to increase within the region.

Pastoral Women’s Council (PWC)


Start and end date of project: November 2016 – November 2017

Who We Are

PWC is a non-governmental, women-focused movement of over 3,000 pastoralist women in northern Tanzania. We were founded in 1997 by a group of 10 Maasai women who wanted to see social change within their communities. Our mission is to promote sound cultural, environmental and educational development of pastoralist women and children in order to facilitate their access to essential social services and economic empowerment. We work in three districts in northern Tanzania: Monduli, Longido and Loliondo.

What is the idea?

The idea is Empuan. This is a Maasai word that means renewing and transforming the lives of Women Informal Cross Border Traders (WICBTs). The idea behind Empuan is to renew and transform the lives of WICBTs selling handicrafts along the Namanga Border (Kenya-Tanzania Border). Being a border town, most of these women traders (who are both Kenyan and Tanzanian citizens) live along the border on either Tanzania or Kenya side and most belong to the Maasai community. These women face double marginalization as their trading approach (mostly hawking) earns them a low income and most of them come from a community (Maasai community) that still has oppressive attitudes and culture towards girls and women.

Questions and Answers

What does your organization want to change and what motivates your team regarding to the work of your organization?

PWC works to see a developed society, which respects human rights and justice for all.

What do you like the most about your work?

The fact that we have been (and continue to do so) positively impacting and transforming the lives of pastoralist women, children and their communities.

Which achievement of your organization are you the most proud of and why?

Supporting the education of over 500 pastoralist children to date and transforming community attitudes about the importance of education, women’s rights and inclusive leadership and development.

What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

Empowering women is empowering the entire community. Women Rights are Human Rights. We must break the glass ceiling for women in all spheres of life.

When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

We would invest more in women’s economic empowerment as this is crucial for the holistic empowerment of women and girls.

What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

Patriarchal systems, traditional cultures and practices of pastoralist community that oppress women and girls.

South Sudan Women Entrepreneurs Association (SSWEA)

Value Addition for Shea Butter Export

SSWEA women entrepreneurs in shea butter trade and production

Start and end date of project: October 2018 – January 2019

Who We Are

South Sudan Women Entrepreneurs Association (SSWEA) was established in 2010, under the NGO Act with the vision to “transform and support efforts made by South Sudan Business Women to become economically self-reliant and independent through empowerment”.

What is the idea?

The project idea is based on the current small-scale shea butter industry owned and managed by local and informal women entrepreneurs in South Sudan. We aim to mobilize and empower these women entrepreneurs from nut collectors and processors to wholesalers of shea butter products into village savings and loan association with the view of generating increased bulk production for export of shea butter to Kenya and Uganda.

Our approach: 1. Strengthening producer groups to be effective and sustainable, 2. Supporting capacity building and skills for the informal women entrepreneurs to enable value addition to primary agricultural production of shea nuts. 3. Establishing and strengthening access to export markets in Uganda and Kenya

Questions and Answers

What does your organization want to change and what motivates your team regarding to the work of your organization?

SSWEA  wants women entrepreneurs to participate in value addition and trade, and we aim to address the constraints that undermine market access and competitiveness, and hold women back from participating more inclusively in economic opportunities. We want to see transformation of the shea butter production and consumption from community level to a regional level with great commercial values. Furthermore, the beneficiaries’ capacities will be enhanced with improved technique for packaging and storing shea butter products.
SSEWA also wants to see an enabling environment for cross border trade for all the East African citizens.

What do you like the most about your work?

The passion to work with vulnerable informal women and creating space for their voices. Proactively promoting women’s participation in trade and exports which leads to income generation at the household. This contributes to reduction of household poverty, creation of employment, improved social status of women, and wealth creation.

Which achievement of your organization are you the most proud of and why?

The employability of women. Our project empowers women and those engaged in the value chain in South Sudan with innovative skills and knowledge in shea butter industry and creating access to export market to Kenya and Uganda. We are also proud to be contributing to the themes of trade, gender and women empowerment through training on cross border trading and service provision within EAC; business group formation; capacity building in shea value addition and export management.

What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

We would suggest the following; 1) there should be education and awareness on all the four freedoms under the EAC Common Market Protocol, namely the free movement of workers, the free movement of goods, the free movement of services; and the free movement of capital. 2) There should also be platform created for social integration for the citizens of EAC. 3) There should be a deliberate engagement to continue with capacity building for cross border traders and Associations to create an enabling environment for business.

When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

Engaging the informal women in export market has been crucial in SSWEA’s intervention this year; SSWEA would want to further empower the women to increase the volume of the shea butter production to meet national, regional and international markets, SSWEA would want to further creating women cross border Associations and train them on simplified trade regime and policies.

What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

The biggest challenge was inadequate technical skills and continuous reliance on donor funding with limited supports from SSWEA’s board.

Vision 4 Youth (V4Y)

Soko Mokononi

Start and end date of project: November 2016 – December 2017

Who We Are

We are a youth-led organization whose envision having responsible and independent young generation capable of overcoming the problems that face them.

What is the idea?

SOKO MKONONI (Market on Hand) is an innovative idea aimed at making EAC market work for people. The aim is to increase market access and investment opportunities for SMEs in Tanzania and Uganda by having an online portal to communicate market and investment opportunities between the two counties. We do it to increase economic growth among SMEs, where the majority of young people are employed.

Questions and Answers

What does your organization want to change and what motivates your team regarding to the work of your organization?

To provide opportunities for young people in various sectors based on entrepreneurship, networking, training and advocating friendly service on Sexual Reproductive Health education and life skills for young people from the age of 14 – 24 with ultimate goal being to develop and sustain positive behaviours amongst young people and activate involvement in civic issues.

What do you like the most about your work?

How young people are impacted in their daily lives, the active involvements and trust gained amongst young people towards the organization. It is by the youth, for the youth.

Which achievement of your organization are you the most proud of and why?

The happy face of successful young entrepreneurs and well informed youths, because we have young people saying ‘it is because of Vision 4 Youth that I am who I am’. Also, when youth want to be fully involved in our ambassadorship program.

What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

The people driven integration will only take place if and when the citizens of the East Africa Member states are aware of the existence of the East African community and its integration objectives and opportunities that they can derive from participating in joint social, economic and political activities.

When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

Yes, if we would have funds for other projects, we would have empowered young people in socially, politically and economically to grab the opportunities made available because of the East African Community.

What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

Was when we had to rely on volunteers to accomplish V4Y tasks and outreach. The demand for our services is high but the capacity to deliver is very low. Also, the sustainability of the organization is difficult. To address this, we desire to get several income-generating projects to ensure the sustainability of V4Y.

Providing an enabling environment for the private sector to take full advantage of the Community through the promotion of a continuous dialogue with the private sector to help create an improved business environment and enhancing investor confidence in the region.


Supporting women’s access and participation in cross border grain trade between Kenya and Uganda

PROJECT - To improve intra-regional trade in grains by supporting women’s access and participation in cross border grain trade between Kenya and Uganda.

“Women have always faced challenges in trading, though most cereals in East African markets today are traded by women. We are hoping to address some of those challenges – quality assurance, storage and transport, and most importantly helping to secure markets – by working closely with Ugandan women grain traders to support them in cross border trade with Kenya.” says Gerald Masila, Executive Director of  the East Africa Grain Council when describing their IIDEA project.

Currently, there is formal and informal trade in grain products at borders in the region, and most women fall into the informal trade basket, walking or taking a motorcycle across the border to sell small or non-standard sized bags of grain to small buyers on the other side. But this method is not capitalising on the potential for much greater sales, and the benefits that working cooperatively and at scale will bring to their families and communities.

“Making a complicated process as easy as possible is our aim, helping women traders understand the many stages that they need to work through to trade successfully at a more formal level. Once they understand though, and can navigate their way through, there really is huge potential for profit.”

EAGC, through their many connections across East Africa, has committed to helping women find the markets to sell into, facilitating their meetings and negotiations, and also helping with access to finance where necessary. Working in 10 countries and with 400 registered members, their networks will open doors to budding women entrepreneurs.

The harmonisation of standards is a first step, ensuring women understand the need to keep quality and hygiene standards high. Toxins and moisture is a real problem in grains, so keeping quality high is paramount for greater and continued sales. Storage and logistics too can seem daunting – selling at scale by necessity means scaling up from a motorbike going across the border. And finally, the paperwork needed can be complicated.

“We will be working with farmers groups to identify women farmers on the ground, using Events and agri-business expos and an already substantial database to find women who are willing and able to be trained in expansion and cross border trade. The opportunities really are there for the taking” said Mr Masila.

East African Women in Business Platform (EAWiBP)

Value Addition for Increase Market Access in the Agro-Processing Sector

PROJECT -  Helping to improve the competitiveness of women led enterprises in moringa, coconut, baobab, shea butter, spices, hibiscus and assorted flours in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

“Women working across borders but together could really change the face of the marketplace for key products like moringa, coconut, shea butter and more. They could help each other with processing, packaging and sales into international markets. And with the open borders, they don’t need to be in the same country to all benefit. Women in Uganda and Tanzania can link into networks in Kenya and benefit from their experiences in reaching product standards, and then potentially work together to fulfil orders and share resources.” That’s the opinion of Nancy Gitonga, regional coordinator with EAWiBP, and the basis of their IIDEA project, which is looking to overcome trade barriers for women across the region and help them create viable markets for key products.

Today’s health care and alternative remedies market is booming globally, with more consumers looking for sustainable and healthy products. Hibiscus, moringa, coconut, baobab, shea butter, and various spices are exactly the sort of products being recognised for their health and wellness properties. All are grown and produced in East Africa, and are most often traded by women.

Informal trading routes are seeing some of these products crossing borders already, but often at the local marketplace level these products have not been processed to a high level, are not packaged well, and are not capitalising on their real value.

“Using moringa as a prime example, this is a product which is gaining a reputation for its health benefits, and can also be used in so many different ways to target different audiences – moringa oil, moringa powder, soap, toothpicks. Women growing moringa can work together to develop these products to a high standard and collectively target sales to high end markets both in Africa and internationally. Health food shops, supermarkets, boutique stores selling local products.”

Women are so often disadvantaged in business and trade, through cultural and societal barriers which see them unable to access information about international standards and reach larger markets which could really see their products reach their full potential. EAWiBP plan to build capacity and connect women across the region, to share experiences around trade and help boost each other up to reach more lucrative markets and properly capitalise on their range of in demand products.

Women in Technology Uganda

Online and Offline Support for Women Business Owners to Start Operations in Kenya and Uganda

PROJECTProviding online and offline support for women business owners to start operations in Kenya and Uganda, helping with set up information including legal, tax and operations advice and office space.

Despite numerous challenges, women in the EAC are really making inroads in business and trade, and with the growth of technology across the region, introduction of some on ground support, the possibility of help to franchise businesses and set up in multiple countries. Offering an online and offline platform will be a one stop shop of help for women traders, the possibilities for expansion are growing even more.

Women in Technology Uganda, through the IIDEA programme, are setting up an Intra-Regional Trade Development Hub specifically for women traders in the first instance in Kenya and Uganda. Supporting small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) with a website which will also act as a sales platform, as well as helping them to set up a physical presence in their country, or find a partner who can help distribute their products, a holistic approach will be taken to guide women entrepreneurs every step of the way in their journey towards cross border trade and business growth.

“Fostering entrepreneurship and helping with all the groundwork to ensure women traders have everything they need for success is the basis of this project. We will be providing information about cross border trading, legal support, tax support, market research, office space, business development training. And then when they are finally at a point to properly launch, we will help facilitate introductions to stakeholders to help create a market and get established.” said Barbara Birungi Mutabazi, WIPU’s Executive Director.

There are many successful women owned Ugandan businesses with potential. With the help of WITU, they can now look at the possibility of expanding their business across the border into Kenya through a franchise model. Spreading their products to new markets, creating employment for young people and building a brand which can spread beyond just Kenya but across the whole EAC.

“Targeting high growth businesses in a range of industries – from technology to fashion designers, cosmetic companies and finance organisations – it’s all about creating the right environment for success and bringing skills and expertise to already driven women, who, with the right help and push, can take advantage of all the opportunities the EAC now offers.”

Collectively promoting and marketing the Community as a Single Tourist


Nimule-Elegu Project: Promoting East African Women Birders in Uganda and South Sudan

Project duration: September 2021 – March 2022

Tourism is the fastest growing foreign exchange earner globally and employs a substantial number of youths. However, there remains a big gap between men and women working in this industry – tourism is still a vastly male-dominated domain.

The “Nimule-Elegu Project” under the Intra-Regional Trade Facility (IRTF) wants to counterbalance this trend by training women bird watching guides to increase their participation in the industry. Bird Uganda Safaris identified this gap, which became obvious for them after more than ten years of experience operating in the tourism industry in Uganda. It has institutionalized the Uganda Women Birders’ Club in 2013, and has since then been instrumental in training women in bird guiding in Uganda and beyond, as the Ugandan club soon became an inspiration for setting up similar clubs in Kenya and Rwanda.

Against the backdrop of this vast experience, Bird Uganda is now training women from the Uganda and South Sudan border communities in birdwatching, with the aim of forming a strong network of skilled women birders, who will ultimately be organised to share their skills and knowledge in the East African Women Birders’ Association. This is done with support from the EAC-GIZ IRTF via the regional capacity-building project ‘Nimule-Elegu’.

The project involves women from different sub-counties of Amuru District on the Ugandan side and Nimule on the South Sudan side.

Unlocking Women’s Potential in Tourist Guiding in Uganda and Rwanda

Project duration: September 2021-March 2022

A considerable number of women in East Africa have studied tourism and undergone training in tourist guiding through associations, institutions and tour companies. However, only very few of them are actually practicing the tourist guiding profession.

According to the Uganda Tourism Board, 47 out of the 578 registered tourist guides in Uganda are women corresponding to 8.1% of all tour guides. This figure still sounds fair, but only ten out of them are seen out there in field guiding. The Rwanda Development Board has registered 5 female guides out of 183 tourist guides in Rwanda. This implies that only 2.73 % of all active tour guides are women.

Kigezi Biota Tours, in partnership with the Safari Guides Associations in both Uganda and Rwanda, have developed a project to foster the active involvement of trained female tour guides in the profession. Through the facilitation of apprenticeships and mentorships in tourist guiding women acquire first hand practical, on-the-job experience and skills that will enable them to find employment with tour operators or as independent guides.

The project banks on the fact that women are seen to be good managers by nature and, provided they are well equipped with the required skills, are often preferred to the male counterparts. Kigezi Biota is observing a trend today that most female and many male tourists are more comfortable when guided by a female tourist guide. Support through the EAC-GIZ funded Intra-Regional Trade Fund (IRTF) will be an important step to strengthen and encourage women to overcome their persisting reluctance and take up guiding proactively.

“A lot of stereotypes about women in tourism discourage women from tourist guiding. And this explains why we have so few female tourist guides in the country. We thank EAC and GIZ for giving us such a great opportunity of empowering ladies in this male dominated profession”, notes Dr. Christine Ampumuza, Head of Tourism Department at Kabale University.

Apprentices will be recruited with the help of the tourist guide associations in both Uganda and Rwanda, and even the calls for applications will run on the platforms of these associations. They will also provide the mentors and trainers that are going to take the apprentices through the apprenticeship and mentoring programme. For quite a long time, guides from Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda have been working together; therefore, this will not be the first time to support each other.

The Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) and the Rwanda Tours and Travel Association (RTTA) will also be involved through making available their wide database of tour operators as the main employers of Tourist Guides. They will also support the project in making connections between apprentices and tour operators for employment opportunities.

The launch of the project was a great event on 13 November 2021 at the White Horse Inn at Kabale town. The launch took place with both physical attendance and online and was very well covered by the local and regional media.

Over 100 women are lining up for this new opportunity in tourist guiding so far. With the COVID pandemic as an unpredictable factor, more digital reach-out is going to take place.

‘This is a great opportunity that should be seized by as many female guides as possible and made maximum use of’, said Patra, a ranger at Queen Elizabeth National Park. ‘Working as a ranger guide has enabled me personally to achieve many things, including taking care of my family and other personal developments,’ she added.

We know we can set our own examples, showing that women can do excellent work in tour guiding and we encourage women to make full use of their capacities in this still largely male-dominated industry.

Sarah a ranger Guide from Uganda Wildlife Authority giving a word of encouragement to the Upcoming Female Tourist Guides


Stakeholders’ engagement workshop


Here are some links to learn more about Unlocking Women’s Potential In Tourist Guiding:

In the press:
Females urged to embrace tour guiding – AFRICAN PEARL NEWS

On Facebook:

In local and national broadcasting:

Capacity Building for SME Tour Operators in East Africa

Project duration: September 2021 – March 2022

Participants at the first Local Booking tour operators meeting and webinar | Photo Credit: Local Booking


The situation of the local tourism industry

Tourism can make a considerable contribution to East Africa's regional economic development. It can channel vast amounts of income into the local economies across East Africa. However, increasing destination competition, pre-leakages and the lack of SME tour operators’ regional capacity limits the multiplier effects and reduces the sector’s positive economic impact and development potential. Currently the COVID-19 pandemic causes a significant disruption to the travel industry. Industry analysts and experts around the world believe that domestic demand will recover faster than international demand.

Tour operators in the different East African countries offer very similar itineraries and the lack of product differentiation has led to downward spiralling price competitions.

SME tour operators also struggle to build enough trust with customers in order to sell itineraries directly to them. This is aggravated by the tour operators’ limited capacity, resources and technical knowledge and forces tour operators to pay high commission fees to international online travel agents based abroad to find customers. Fixed net rooms rates also cause tour operators to miss out on room booking commissions.

As more and more travellers go online to book flights, hotel rooms and tours, a rising number of home-grown tour operators have been forced out of business. Smaller operators often try undercutting the competition through lower rates, but eventually collapse when their business model becomes unsustainable. The very survival of locally registered SME tour operator companies in East Africa is currently at stake.

The solution developed by Local Booking

Supported by the Intra-Regional Trade Facility (IRTF), funded by German Development Cooperation through the EAC-GIZ SEAMPEC programme, Local Booking is developing an East African nature-oriented, bottom-up designed travel website. This web site will contain a centralised online room-booking website (business to business) and an e-marketplace (business to customer) for domestic and international travellers. The system is based on cooperative frameworks and networks at the destination level. Locally registered SME tour operators, accommodation owners and stakeholders across East Africa can connect, communicate and network seamlessly and effortlessly, in order to benefit from potential opportunities, create free flowing knowledge, and streamline and coordinate delivery.

We will enable accommodation owners to offer flexible net rates directly to tour operators across the region, as well as allowing tour operators to offer rooms to their customers at competitive rates inclusive of their mark up. The platform will highlight the uniqueness and quality of East Africa as a destination compared to alternative competing destinations; through the efficient and effective exchanges of knowledge and information between the different.

The web site wants to appeal to domestic and international responsible travellers who seek value rather than cheapest rates. Locally registered SME tour operators can promote their itineraries and tell their own story through videos, highlighting their favourite places. Potential customers will be given a preview of the different experiences waiting for them. The tour operators’ videos will not just communicate simple facts, but they will create a connection and build trust in the operator. The nature-focused videos will help the customer to relate to the tour operator. Empathy fuels connection and builds trust and loyalty.

Shooting videos for the Local Booking landing page and for advertising


Current stage of the Project

Local Booking's team went through the webinar planning phase and launched the first pilot webinar with 10 participants. A webinar schedule stipulating the common goal and what everyone must do in order to get there has been created.

The first Local Booking Webinar for SME tour operators concentrated on solutions for the problem, that tour operators across East Africa all offer very similar itineraries and the lack of product differentiation contributes towards a downward spiralling price competition.

The proposed solution lies in product differentiation. Each company should choose their customers and concentrate on adding value for this circle of customers, that is offer them tailor-made itineraries and premium rates.

The following steps need to be taken:

  1. Identify how to differentiate the company’s product and define where the added value lies.
  2. Identify you customers and contact them directly
  3. Concentrate on email marketing, newsletter and keeping the Local Booking landing page updated
  4. Adapt the company’s differentiated product for search engine optimisation regarding content, leads and online marketing
  5. Identify how to tap into domestic tourism (how to enter the market, what do people look for in the domestic market, how should they be approached).

Campfire Logs Guild

Tour d’EAC 2016

  • Start and end date of project: Annual

    Who We Are

    We are an initiative of idealists from diverse adventure backgrounds committed to the transformation of society through adventure training programs. We began our journey in 2011. Since then we have worked with over 300 young people, students and corporate clients throughout East Africa. We now provide adventure based outdoor programs for individuals, families, government institutions, schools, churches, organizations and corporate companies. We work with groups ranging from 2 to 100 people. Programs range in duration from 1 to 30 days. We run programs locally at the various locations with participants experiencing forests, rivers, caves, lakes, mountains and village tours.

    What is the idea?

    The Tour d’EAC is a cycling event across the East African region. Every year, a team of cyclists travel throughout the EAC Partner states. This tour is aimed at creating awareness about the EAC and the integration agenda.

    Questions and Answers

    What does your organization want to change and what motivates your team regarding to the work of your organization?

    Our vision is to maximize opportunities towards a future where we can all live a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.

    What do you like the most about your work?

    What we like most about our work is the ability to mobilize members to participate in such breath-taking adventures even when the outcome is uncertain.

    Which achievement of your organization are you the most proud of and why?

    Having successfully accomplished Tour d’EAC 2016, meeting different people and being able to carry out all activities as planned – it just makes us very proud.

    What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

    Our advice to the people of East Africa is that we need to step forward and own the integration process. We shouldn’t leave it only to politicians. We the people are the ones who will benefit most from integration. Therefore, we should embrace initiatives aimed at fostering integration in our region.

    When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

    Well, whatever happened and whatever will happen in the future happens for a reason, all achievements and failures. Things could have always been better, but as Buddha perfectly said, ‘days gone by is gone, tomorrow has not yet come, we have only now, let us start". So, we just want to keep on going and growing. Whatever mistakes we have made, failures we have faced showed us the right path forward and we just want to follow that.

    What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

    Our biggest obstacles are funding our projects and the perception of the EAC integration. Funding has been the biggest obstacle to our activities. But it is also thought that the EAC only benefits the heads of states. Some think it’s not achievable. We need to prove them wrong.

Rwanda Tours and Travel Association (RTTA)

Rwanda Tanzania Tourism Portal

RTTA Safari Cars ready for the project launch

Start and end date of project: October 2018 – March 2019

Who We Are

We are an Association of Tours and Travel agencies responsible for facilitating members to do business through creating an enabling environment. We identify challenges and devise an advocacy agenda for possible solutions.

What is the idea?

Creating a web Portal with key resources that will enable collaboration and communication to facilitate new business opportunities for Rwanda and Tanzania tour operators. Out project aims at increasing sales/business among tour operators in the region. This will be achieved through regular interaction/engagement between private sector players and enabling them to package both destinations.

Questions and Answers

What does your organization want to change and what motivates your team regarding to the work of your organization?

RTTA seeks to create strong business linkages through information and B2B joint sales for the benefit of the members and destination. It motivates us to see of effective collaborations within the sector.

What do you like the most about your work?

As an association, we like to see serve our members and creating value addition to their membership. That’s our fulfilment.

Which achievement of your organization are you the most proud of and why?

RTTA advocated for its members and secured over 4000 permits that were approved by RDB to be issued on the old price after the abrupt increase of gorilla trekking permits.

What is the most important advice you can give to other people in the East African Region?

Selling EAC as a single destination, would reduce the effects of seasonalities and shocks that come with over dependency on international tourists.

When you look back at the work of your organization over the last years, is there anything you would do differently now?

RTTA could lead on market intelligence that would guide decisions on investments to be made in marketing and market expansion by the sector/ members to ensure it is mostly beneficial for the development of the private sector.

What was the greatest obstacle your organization ever faced or is still facing?

Capacity building and the creation of a business development fund for members to improve their capability to conduct their businesses in the most sustainable way. Financial sustainability for the association and training needs for staff of the association to enhance their capacity to build strong market intelligence skills, creation of incubators for startups and other value added services for members.


EAC Youth Tourist Guides Platform

PROJECT - Linking young aspiring tourism guides in Kenya and Uganda through an online portal to professional guides and associations, with a view to enhancing their skills and ensuring a sustainable tourism sector in the future.

Tourism in Uganda is a growing industry, and in a country rich with diverse wildlife and wild spaces, training guides to cater to the incoming tourists is a prescient move, and one which at the same time is helping to create employment, entrepreneurship and a love of nature.

Under the IIDEA programme, the Uganda Safari Guides Association will create a website for guides, which will have a dual purpose – training new and aspiring guides, but then also building a marketplace where guides are profiled and tour operators can go to find local specialists and unique tours in the near future.

Targeting disadvantaged youth, the project will foster aspiring guides from known tourism hotspots, but also regions with high tourism potential. One of the key outputs of the project will be helping guides to design and create itineraries which can then be marketed across the region through the website. The project will also be open to women, who historically have not been well represented in the guiding industry.

As tourists move between East African countries on their safari holidays, creating a portal of guides who have reached a certain standard and have been assessed by USAGA will help ensure quality and good experiences. USAGA, who already work closely with guides in Rwanda, will also begin working with Kenya and maximising cross border opportunities.

According to Mr. Pius Muhamya, CEO of USAGA, “There are so many beautiful places to visit in East Africa, and local expertise can really make a difference in experiencing them. By building the skills of local guides, assessing them to ensure they have reached a high standard in guiding and then helping to market their skills globally on the website, will provide employment, economic advantages to potential new tourist areas and overall help professionalise the industry.”

The first step is training – finding and fostering prospective guides in their regions, and through the website portal providing training in firstly Basic Guiding Skills including customer care and handling, and then nature guiding and creating guiding experiences. By sharing materials and experiences and creating a mentoring environment through the existing USAGA cluster groups, young people looking to become guides – irrespective of their education level – will have a leg up and benefit from professional guides already operating in the region.

“The ultimate aim is regional integration and building the platform to encompass guides from across the whole EAC.”

Uganda Tourism Association (UTA)

Marketability of East African Cultural Crafts

Uganda Tourism Association (UTA) hostIng key stakeholders in the tourism industry at the launch of the project by the Uganda State Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Hon Kiwanda Godfrey Ssuubi at the NACCAU Gardens next to the National Theatre.

PROJECT - Creating a digital sales platform for the sale of East African Cultural Crafts and work with women and youth craft producers in Kenya and Uganda currently working around tourism sites to develop high quality products for sale to a wider audience.

Every tourist who comes to East Africa leaves with a piece of art or craft to remind them of their journey. Whether a woven basket or a beaded necklace, leatherwork or something made from kitenge, the colours and patterns are genuinely African and made by local craftspeople as an income source. The crafts are mostly regionally and culturally specific and therefore have a colourful and unique story attached.

The Uganda Tourism Association wants to take these pieces to a much wider audience and create a website which will act as a central marketplace for East African cultural crafts. Through the IIDEA programme, they will not only be building the site and selling crafts to the world, but also working closely with the craft makers to develop products which will appeal to a mass audience and really show the ingenuity and skills of local people.

Richard Kawere, Executive Director, UTA says “Improving the marketability of cultural crafts in East Africa begins with improving the standards and consistency of the products being made. We will be identifying key products in key regions and working with the communities there to produce some key designs. And then the website will help expose these products to not just tourists but buyers globally, interested in authentic and high-quality African crafts.”

“There are so many beautiful arts and crafts being created in East Africa. We already have 18 products which will be the basis of the website launch, and we are aiming for another 22. But we are hoping to expand this across the whole EAC, showing the world the unique products coming out of our region, and sharing the stories that go with those products.”

Fair trade and fair payment is incredibly important, and negotiations with craft producers will be done at the community level, where cooperatives will be set up for the producers to work together and keep production to a high level. The UTA will also take on the role of distributors, handling the logistics of orders to be sent anywhere in the world and liaising with the craft makers to ensure orders are kept.

Help to push the website has already come from companies in the UK and Germany who have offered to help with search engine maximisation. “We really want to tell the stories of the crafts, the history behind the basket shapes and the beadwork, the tribal stories and the stories of the craftspeople themselves.” said Mr Kawere.