Partnering with the UK-based charity Build Africa, we are supporting schools and communities in rural Uganda. Our focus is on creating a more stable and equal society through education and financial inclusion for those who traditionally have had no access to finance. Through a unique programme of field trips, Euroclear staff are given the chance to go out to Uganda and work together with the communities and schools, to help create a sustainable and self-reliant society.
Partnerships are very important for Euroclear, and never more so than in our 50th year. Collaboration and mutual support is the name of the game in 2018.
We have been partnering with Build Africa for more than four years now and that relationship has grown and developed over time. Euroclear has changed since the start of our relationship, as has Build Africa, and, as our relationship has grown and strengthened, we have been looking for more ways in which Euroclear can support the excellent work that Build Africa is doing.
To this end, together with Build Africa, we hosted our first joint breakfast workshop in London. We had a full house with very diverse profiles - from bankers and lawyers to members of other charities. it was certainly inspiring to see all the lively conversations taking place around the room.
Martin Realy, CEO of Build Africa and Emily White, a senior member of Build Africa, presented their impressive business model and plans for the future and then we presented on our unique approach, stressing that it is not only financial support that makes a difference, but offering skills and expertise can be even more beneficial.
We received a lot of positive feedback after the event, and it seems that some seeds have definitely been sown!
On 8th March, colleagues from Euroclear were honoured to be invited to a special Build Africa lunch to celebrate International Women's Day. As we gathered together, women from all walks of life who had come to support Build Africa's inspiring work in Uganda and Kenya, it was sobering to reflect upon the difference between our privileged lives and those of young women in some of the rural communities that Build Africa supports.
Many young women in rural Africa are illiterate, having been forced to leave school to get married in their early teens. With no possibility to get a job or to have any kind of financial independence, their lives are restricted to working in the fields and bearing children.
But that is changing. Build Africa is encouraging communities to allow girls to stay on at school and to complete their education and we now see that in schools like Kalengo, more girls than boys are completing their primary education! Boys are also being taught to treat girls as equals and so a whole new generation is growing up with a different concept of the role that women play in society.
We also see that many women are members of the Village Savings & Loans schemes and that most of the owners of the local small businesses are women. It's changes like these that are an inspiration to our staff who may not have the chance to go out to Uganda, but who eagerly follow all the updates.
The Euroclear team has just returned from rural Uganda, where we are supporting a cluster of 6 schools and communities. We certainly had a full agenda - visiting 5 schools in the neighbourhood, taking part in the savings & loans weekly meetings, visiting local businesses supported by Build Africa and Euroclear and organising two sports days.
It's always inspiring to see how communities with so little manage to come up with innovative solutions to the many challenges that they face. The support that we are giving, along with Build Africa's invaluable guidance, gives these communities the impetus to move forward and start to build a sustainable future. As always, we returned feeling privilege and honoured to have been a part of this amazing experience.
The first three years of our work with the UK charity Build Africa saw Kalengo primary school go from holding classes in the dust under a mango tree to well-equipped classroom blocks with a new kitchen, library and robust teachers' accommodation. The Kalengo community has also thrived, with flourishing savings & loans schemes and small businesses being set up so that the local families can break out of the poverty cycle.
Build Africa's focus is on creating a more stable and economically sound community through education - with an emphasis on enabling prosperity in the whole community. Financial inclusion is an important aspect of this, which is why we are extending our support to not only include more local schools, but also to set up further savings & loans schemes and actively fund and promote local livelihoods.