Thursday, July 22, 2010


Over the next five months I’ll be living in Rwanda to work with Spark MicroGrants, an exciting new approach to spurring community-led development. This blog will follow updates and discussions surrounding MicroGrants in Rwanda and Uganda as well as information surrounding organizations I meet and learn about through the coming months in East Africa.

To give you some background, Spark MicroGrants is an innovative yet young venture of Community Lab, a New York City based NGO. Their first MicroGrant was given to encourage pregnant women to deliver in clinics in Ilolangulu, Tanzania, where 70% of pregnant women deliver at home. Two health workers proposed the simple idea of giving soap and diapers to women who delivered in their clinics. With a grant of $615, they have seen deliveries in their clinic rise from 10 per month to 35 per month. MicroGrants are also supporting improved access to clean water in Ethiopia, women leadership and food security in Guatemala and increased awareness and testing of HIV in Tanzania. Every MicroGrant has a local facilitator who engages the community and helps run a local competition to allocate a small grant, up to $3,000, to address a pressing social problem.

Through iterations of MicroGrant competitions in Rwanda and Uganda we hope to develop the model, and establish an evidence base for what works and does not work. We have already identified our first two local facilitators for Rwanda and Uganda. Aaron Bukenya, Director of Burgerere Education Support Organization (, in Kampala, Uganda and Jean Paul Ntabanganimana from the Umuryango Children’s Network (, in Kigali, Rwanda are incredibly passionate and skilled NGO leaders with a commitment to helping their communities and supporting MicroGrant competitions.

You can see more information and donate to the project online: