While completing his two-year ALA diploma, Martin Lubowa ‘18 also co-managed the Africa Student Support Network, a Ugandan organization that not only provides scholarships for disadvantaged students but also equips young leaders with soft skills to help them navigate the 21st-century working world.
“We want to re-imagine how giving back looks like on the African continent by creating realistic, user-friendly approaches that involve everyone in the giving back process,” says Martin Lubowa ’18, co-founder of the Africa Student Support Network (AFRISSUN).
Launched officially in 2017 by Lubowa and his Ugandan peers Robert Kyomuhendo, John Kigongo, Frank Blessed Mutamba, and Ibanda Tonny Brian, AFRISSUN exists to meet a need the founders themselves faced at varying stages of their lives: not being able to pay school fees or meet day-to-day living expenses due to the loss of one or both parents. After Martin lost his father, he realised that so many young people face this problem, and so, together with his peers, he decided to do something about it.
Today, AFRISSUN has raised over $6000 to support students through their programs, with 95% of these funds donated by school-going children. What do these funds go towards? They are directed to their flagship programs, namely, the Afrischolarship, Afrileadership, Afro-opportunity and Love Outreach programmes. “Our number one priority is to see our programmes take a leap in helping African youth better prepare for the 21st-century workplace,” says Lubowa. “The majority of school systems are not addressing the problem of equipping students with soft skills. So you find that there’s a very big gap between leadership and education or skill and education.”
The young yet highly accomplished organization has taken strides in bridging this gap – equipping students with the skills necessary for them to navigate both their immediate communities and the world at large, and that’s just the beginning. With big plans involving expansion into agriculture, housing (they want to create an affordable housing rental scheme for communities), leadership conferences, and building a unique Idea hub for young people – AFRISSUN’s 5-10 year plan is daring, and necessary. As a result, “the need for multiple stakeholders, volunteers, and supporters to support this work is critical”, says Martin. With the COVID-19 pandemic having affected all means and ways of work, here are three ways you can support the Africa Student Support Network today:
- Share this article with someone who could be interested in AFRISSUN’s work.
- Facilitate a virtual Masterclass! Are you a seasoned professional with soft skills that could be transferred in the form of a webinar? AFRISSUN has just the opportunity for you. Get in touch with Martin Lubowa via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Share links. AFRISSUN is currently searching for grants as well as similar programs and partners to collaborate with. Have something in mind? Reach out to the AFRISSUN team via email on: email@example.com
Ultimately, the long-term vision is about replicating support systems across the continent that enable everyone in making a difference – no matter how large or small that contribution is. “How do we support students abroad to give back to their communities?” asks Martin. “How do we see schools on the African continent replicating support networks where students, communities and individuals are able to give back constructively?” These are questions AFRISSUN has begun to answer.
Will you join them?