Creation of a Quantitative Impact Assessment Uganda

[Newsletter 1] Arrival & meeting with Nyaka

Hi everybody,

I arrived in Kampala last Monday morning. I know that some of you will tell me that I should have written my first newsletter earlier. That’s true and for once, I do not really have an excuse! 🙂 I started this exciting new adventure by more or less a world tour! If you want to get airline tickets at the right price (few days before the departure), be prepared to make a few stops! 🙂 I enjoyed a beer and fries in Brussels, a good coffee in Amsterdam, African songs in Nairobi, nothing interesting in Kigali and I finally landed in Entebbe Uganda at 3:30 am. Fortunately, time flied because I found myself sitting next to a former BCG consultant who had left everything to launch his own NGO in Kenya.

BCG consutant turned social entrepreneur
BCG consultant turned into social entrepreneur

#Nyaka, the mission

After a long night of two hours, direction Nyaka by boda (local taxi motorcycle) which dropped me in front of the NGO. In short, Nyaka’s goal is to provide access to education and healthcare to AIDS orphans through a holistic and community-based approach.

When parents die, it is often the grandmothers who take over. Nyaka gives them the means to support their grandchildren through trainings on entrepreneurship, micro-credit, awareness-raising … It’s more than 700 children in their schools and 6000+ grandmothers accompanied.

When I arrived in the association, I have been warmly welcomed by the team: Sempa (Finance Manager), Jennifer (Country Director) and Shabnam (responsible for our project).

Quentin, (unfortunately he will arrive on Friday for flight issues), will be put to contribution on engineering missions: water treatment, construction, … and he will meet younger students to speak to them about Engineering and help them with guidance choices.

For my part, I am working on monitoring & impact measurement. At the end of our exchange Jennifer said to me: “What I expect from you is that you can help us answer on the following question:” What does success look like? ” Nice challenge! 🙂 

Romain Sion Uganda Nyaka

#One meeting per day

As part of my discovery process, I contacted many high impact business entrepreneurs, NGO founders, ambassadors, local leaders … in order to meet one every day. I will share with you some of them. I interacted with Samantha Elghanayan (@Sam: thanks) working at Tugende – high social impact business. They offer loans to boda drivers to enable them to buy their motorcycles instead of renting (very expensive).

Romain Sion Uganda Nyaka

After 19 months, they can become owner through weekly repayments. Thereafter, they can double the salary they would have earned by continuing to rent. When she joined the company three years ago, there were 300 drivers. Since then, they are around 6000. The traction was incredible, they made advertising only the first month and then it was word of mouth 100%. 

Romain Sion Tugende Uganda

#Interesting debate: NGOs vs. High impact business:

We had a passionate debate with Samantha on the pros and cons of launching an NGO vs. a high impact company The real advantage of an NGO is its exclusive access to grants and donations in exchange for performance indicators uncorrelated to profitability. However, the downside is independence: NGOs must comply with the expectations of their donors.

 Romain Sion Shauna Educate Uganda
Romain Sion Shauna Educate Uganda

For example, Shauna of Educate explained to me that in order to obtain a grant from a major US donor (funding a school side project in the north of the country), she was obliged to provide free access to the 200 students of the school. They had to change all their business model while the families of the students were willing to pay.

Moreover, a high-impact company does not carry the image of a non-profit organization that sometimes involves sacrifices, particularly wages from the management team. Donors are often reluctant to finance the operations and payroll of an NGO. Why should an entrepreneur with a social vision agree to sacrifice his standard of living even if his actions are ultra impactful? From a financial point of view, a high-impact company must be profitable and cash efficient day 1. Through my job at Blisce, I have noticed that many sophisticated families / investors of significant size are increasingly defending specific causes (climatic, social, etc.) via an impact investing allocation on which they seek a limited financial return accompanied by impact KPIs. Could these high impact businesses be the future of NGOs? Will we see an hybrid model at the crossroads between high impact business & NGOs? The future will tell… I hope that you are doing well,Reachable on what’s app event on my boda! (@pap) 🙂

Have a great day.


[Newsletter 2]  On the field in Kanungu & Rukungiri

Hi la Familia, les Potos, Blisce & EPIC,

How are you ?

Since the last newsletter, my brother Quentin joined me on August 4th after spending more than 5 hours in the traffic jams to join Kampala. So stuck that the driver stopped by the roadside several times to give him some lessons on local flora and fauna! 🙂

#A mission but not only…

The next day we went to Jinga, a place known as the source of the Nile. In order to celebrate the arrival of Quentin, we experienced a level 5 rafting descent. In addition to a breathtaking landscape on both sides of the Nile, we took 8 rapids including several waterfalls of several meters. When the raft flip and you spend 15+ seconds under water, it’s a real thrill of adrenaline! 🙂 

Romain Sion Uganda Nyaka

#Nyaka, data collection on the field

To measure the impact of Nyaka within the communities of Kanungu & Rukungiri (southwestern of the country) and answer the question: “How does success look like? “.

Romain Sion Uganda Nyaka

We moved to the second step of the project, which is to go and collect the data on the ground.

Romain Sion Nyaka Uganda
Romain Sion Nyaka Uganda

We were fortunate to travel to extremely remote areas where white faces did not run through the streets. 🙂 This week was a series of meetings with Nyaka primary and secondary school headteachers, teachers, religious leaders, clan & village leaders, government officials, local communities…

Romain Sion Nyaka Uganda
Romain Sion Nyaka Uganda

There were sometimes more than sixty people from several communities who joined to help us carry out our study. The most striking element was the perfect involvement of the different communities within the governance of Nyaka. In the event of a severe blow to Nyaka, thousands of people from all hierarchical, ethnic and religious levels will contribute together to face them. In parallel with the data collection, Quentin used his engineering skills on pressure problems in their water circuit and he organized science courses around 4 experiments.

#Unforgettable moments

Community of Grandmothers

After a one hour exchange with a community of grandmothers for our data collection, they thanked us with a dance accompanied by local songs. A moment that will remain engraved in our memories … I let you appreciate the video (above french version) 🙂

Romain Sion Uganda Nyaka

Live pitching smartphone app

We were pitched by a team Nyaka of 6 students passionate about new technologies who introduced us their innovations and in particular a smartphone application preventing patients from forgetting their medicines while receiving advice from doctors. Value proposition, business model, demo … everything was there! This app has earned them the first place of a national challenge involving all the private schools of the capital!

Romain Sion Nyaka Uganda
Nyaka Uganda

Volleyball match

Being both volleyball fans, we were invited for a fierce match with Nyaka students. The ground was rocky, the net distended and the ball worn but the level was really good. Notably a schoolgirl of 7 years max playing in dress and bare feet who positioned all her receptions with a surgical precision! 🙂

Romain Sion Uganda Nyaka

#The meeting of the week

Currently reading Jackson’s book, the founder of Nyaka explains the fundamentals of his initiative following the deaths of his brother and sister because of the “slim” (AIDS) and introduces the woman who breathed the values ​​of Nyaka . After constructing the first two classes, Jackson went to see Freda, her hearty grandmother, and a freshly retired teacher to become Nyaka’s first head teacher. We had the opportunity to meet her, a rare and truly inspiring personality!

Romain Sion Uganda Nyaka

#How do people living in remote villages access bank loans and insurance?

In the case of large purchases (household products, animals, etc.), or when a relative has to go to the hospital for a costly operation, residents often have very limited incomes and do not have access to banking products and Insurance. They organized themselves into a “trusted” group composed by ten to fifty members. Each month, members meet and define purchasing priorities. All members contribute monthly to a common pot which is then allocated according to the needs of each.

For example, if each member wants a goat, every month all members will buy one in an order defined by a random draw. As far as insurance is concerned, it is about the same principle. The group negotiates a direct partnership with the hospital and each member will pay a monthly fee. In case of a hard blow, the family concerned will receive the appropriate healthcare. Since these groups are based on trust, it is essential to have a good reputation and to have strong roots in the specified area.

Hope you are doing weel,

Have a great day,

Quent & Rom

[Newsletter 3] Impact assessment & Safari

Hi family,Hi potos,Hi Blisce,Hi EPIC,

Here I am, just returned from this new extraordinary adventure! My lucky brother enjoyed few more hours by the pool before taking his plane back to France.

#Nyaka – Return to Kampala to start the 3rd phase of the project

The way back to Kampala was hectic because we opted for a return by a local bus which was overcrowded. When the bus stopped, we had to put in place a real strategy to keep an eye on our bags because, beyond the passengers, we saw some fortune tellers, miracle drug sellers, dozens of skewer sellers…. 🙂 Once we arrived, we found a nice guesthouse outside the city with a beach volleyball court where we met many different people during the matches (professional footballl player, researcher at Harvard…).


This week in Kampala was particularly studious in order to complete our respective reports. Regarding the impact assessment mission, I dedicated the first 2 days to consolidate the 4100+ data points retrieved on the ground from the 3 Nyaka schools and the communities of Kanaungu & Rukungiri through a format that Nyaka will continue to use for its internal & external reportings.

Romain Sion Uganda Nyaka

Then, I worked on the construction of various dashboards to follow up the identified KPIs before writing of a summary report that we debrifed on Friday with the team.

Romain Sion Uganda Nyaka

Here are some interesting performance KPIs.

Nyaka is:

  • 786 different students who benefited or are benefiting from the Nyaka education program since 2003 (program spread over 14 years + university)
  • 156k+ hours of classes taught since 2003 (including 21k hours last year) by a full-time faculty team that reached 43 people this year
  • 1.7M+ meals distributed within their schools since 2003
  • 40 students currently in university
  • 54% of girls all levels combined (13 times over the last 15 years, there were more school schoolgirls than schoolboys)
  • X1.66 up to X2.46 more chance of getting a grade 1 or 2 at their final exam at the end of primary 7 vs. the benchmark of schools in the district
  • 436K people reached via radio broadcasts / visits in 2016 animated by the anti AIDS club from Nyaka primary school
Romain Sion Uganda Nyaka
Romain Sion Uganda Nyaka

Quentin focused on highlighting the main risks associated with the construction of the 3 schools with recommendations of implementation. His three main orientations were about: the foundations of certain buildings, the protection of water tanks and the safety in kitchens. During the debriefing, he interacted with Sempa, the person responsible for the follow-up of all the constructions.

Romain Sion Uganda Nyaka

In order to get a maximum of staffs, we organized our farewell on the field (just before our return to Kampala) where we made them discover products from the northern part of France. It was really nice because about 20 staff members came and gave us a very nice speech.

Romain Sion Uganda Nyaka

#Unforgettable Safari Queen Elizabeth Park

Even if we have been busy during the week with our missions, we have been real tourists during the weekends. Following Shabnam’s recommendations, we found the right tour operator. Bosco, our guide, grew up in the park and guided us all the weekend in his SUV with an opened roof. In addition of being really nice, he had an incredible network of friends so we got all the best spots.

Romain Sion Uganda Nyaka

He found us the leopard that had just killed his prey, a band of 7 lions, elephants, buffalos, crocodiles, warthogs, antelopes, monkeys … As soon as his phone rang and he pressed the accelerator, we went through the opened roof ready to spot the next animal! 🙂

This year again, an unforgettable adventure and  this time, it was with Quent! A big thank you to EPIC and especially Elisa, Alexandre, Nicolas and Charles-henri who made this exchange possible!
Good day to all,

See you soon,