Masindi district has over 120 informal community groups; with the average capacity of each group being 25 members.

The community foundation idea emerged from a community project initiative meant to protect the environment, implemented by the groups and funded by the Ministry for European Affairs and International Cooperation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The project is ‘Appropriate Rural Technology Development, ARTD’.

The goal of the project is: “To conserve the environment through eliminating deforestation for household wood fuel by substituting traditional charcoal for more energy intensive charcoal briquettes’’.

The project looks at agricultural wastes as ‘valuable community assets’ which can be converted into charcoal briquettes (efficient household energy source for cooking). The project is completely owned by the 5 beneficiary groups in each of the 11 rural subcounties of implementation I.e. Miirya, Kimengo, Karujubu, Budongo, Bwijanga, Nyangahya, Pakanyi, Kigumba, Kiryandongo, Mutunda and Masindi Port subcounties.

Through the project;

Community groups make charcoal briquettes from post harvest agricultural wastes like leaves, grasses, rice husks, maize cobs, groundnut shells, bean husks, maize straws etc, as opposed to the traditional system of cutting down trees to make charcoal. Groups then sell charcoal briquettes to households and get income. The groups retain a significant percentage of income as a fee for implementing the project and decided to devise means of investing the excess income to support their other income generating activities in the long haul.

These community groups are engaged in other income generating activities like agriculture, brick-laying e.t.c through small grants from the local government.But since this is onetime grant for each community group coupled with other loopholes under the grant program, subprojects can’t improve and sustain livelihoods of the local citizens.

The loopholes of the small grants program under the local government are;

  • No close monitoring and evaluation of subprojects of community groups has led to mismanagement of grants
  • No or Inadequate capacity building trainings to grantees in the course of subproject implementation.
  • Grants don’t take into account availability of assets of the community groups for capacity building.E.g. a community group engaged in a poultry enterprise requesting for a grant to start a piggery enterprise without any structures or units or knowledge about how to operate the enterprise.
  • No element of sustainability of subprojects, as this is a onetime grant for every community group. The approach sees subprojects as discrete investments with a definite end and little possibility for raising extra investments.
  • Growing demand on Masindi regional local government as far as service delivery is concerned has hindered effective coordination of the small grants program among all the community groups in the region. Hitherto less than 30% of the community groups have benefited from this program.

Loopholes raised questions of the efficacy of the grants program in eradicating poverty; given the fact that the program has been implemented for over 10 years in the district and poverty relief is not forthcoming because currently 80% of the local citizens still live on less than USD 1 a day.

Community groups then sought to establish a permanent financial base with which to test, promote and facilitate asset based development as an approach that enables local citizens establish and manage sustainable social enterprises capable of improving their livelihoods and helping them achieve poverty relief. This led to the establishment of the Social Action Fund, SAF.

The groups inject a small percentage of the monthly proceedings from ARTD project into the SAF.

Then the community groups in each of the 12 subcounties came together to elect one representative to oversee the Social Action Fund, SAF. 12 representatives formed the Board of Trustees, BOT.

All in all there was need for a vehicle to: manage and steward the SAF, connect BOT directly to the constituent community groups, act as a conduit for technical assistance to the community groups/social enterprises under the asset based development approach, mobilize and endow financial resources for facilitating and promoting asset based development as a model that enables communities establish and manage sustainable social enterprises capable of improving their livelihoods and helping them achieve poverty relief.

This led to the emergence of Masindi Community Foundation, MCF. The emergence of MCF led to the establishment of the youth and unrestricted funds to facilitate asset based development and support through grantmaking initiatives of formally established community based organizations, CBOs directed towards tackling issues which negatively impact on the social enterprises respectively.