We had the good fortune of connecting with Joan Nabatanzi and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Joan, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
My name is Nabatanzi Joan from Uganda. I am a graduate of a girl’s empowerment program and a celebrated mentor of the project for eleven years now and have directly trained 350 girls through the project curriculum, empowering them to reach their fullest potential. I am a 21 year old Ugandan female. I study at Makerere University doing a Bachelor’s degree in Horticulture. I am a firstborn of seven children living with only a mother. We lost our father in 2014 to gastrointestinal cancer and we have ever since struggled to provide a decent life and education to myself and all my siblings. Having worked with a number of girls, I have seen what being a girl means to a number of girls. I have seen the challenges girls in Uganda face that deter them from achieving their goals. I have also observed the underutilized and unmatched potential that girls have. I have come to understand that the best investment one can make is transforming lives of girls for the better. This has the potential to solve each and every problem that the world is facing. A special emphasis is put on economic development as the girls learn Saving and budgeting, Social entrepreneurship, Design thinking, budgeting and Practical skills training sessions as we aim at curbing harmful dependence among girls to access basic essential items like sanitary pads and many others. The end result becomes girls accessing a safe space where they work together and grow in all dimensions in a bid to make this world a better place. Among the practical skills trained will be sustainable organic farming, computer literacy, crocheting, carpentry, art and crafts making, tailoring and cookery. We believe when girls get that knowledge and become entrepreneurs, they can do away with harmful dependence and the inferiority complex. Please join Girlnow movement as we take on real solutions to real challenges!

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
The Girlnow foundation is a movement to educate and economically empower vulnerable girls to flourish into phenomenal leaders in their community. Girlnow is focused on advancing girls’ economic opportunities in Uganda so as they can escape early pregnancy, stay in school and learn skills to become financially independent. We do an annual adolescent girl’s empowerment program that focuses on girls understanding their value and harnessing it to their maximum capability. The project teaches a unique and holistic curriculum that involves social and financial empowerment of the girls as well as fostering sisterhood, teamwork, innovation and financial development. We work with teenage girls between ages 12 to 17 in schools and communities. Girls are trained and tasked to practice mentorship with other girls in their communities as well as them being positive role models to other girls in their locality. It also involves the entire community including the parents, leaders in a bid to understand and practice their responsibility as regards achieving a gender equitable society. Project activities 1. Adolescent girl facilitation sessions Facilitators take the children through sessions and discuss with girls on the following topics; i. Value of life ii. Life as a girl iii. Self esteem iv. Gender roles v. Effective communication vi. Puberty vii. Leadership viii. Gender-based violence ix. Children’s rights and responsibilities x. Basic sexual and reproductive health xi. Relationships xii. Safe spaces in our communities xiii. Mentorship 2. Financial empowerment i. Social entrepreneurship ii. Design thinking iii. Saving iv. Budgeting v. Practical skills training sessions 3. Exposure visits for girls’ inspiration Visits to local and national female successful entrepreneurs so as the girls can pick an inspiration in the sectors of interest that girls would love to venture in. 4. End of year teambuilding and mentorship training camp. A weekend-long adventure which is a great opportunity for girls to bond and understand the essence of girls rooting for girls as they prepare to practice all they learnt during their project year. 5. Monitoring and evaluation • Do both baseline (before) and endline(after) surveys • Compare baseline study data to the progressive and end line survey • Compiling and submitting progress and quarterly reports • Conduct quarterly meetings with the board of directors and district officials. • Monitoring support visits to beneficiaries • Voicing beneficiary stories on impact • Conducting regular assessments of beneficiaries • Profiling beneficiaries eg creating a prospectus that we can attach to our website. • Compiling and publishing success stories • Using Kobo collect data analysis tool to monitor progress and share learnings • Collect and document information through sharing pictures, news, videos and blogs on social media and website • Disseminate reports, stories of change, best practices and lessons learnt to key stakeholders.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Uganda is one of the best travel destinations you need to think about. What is even better is that with the Girlnow foundation, you visit Uganda for a charity trip and have a chance to meet the program beneficiaries, Girlnow staff and look into the joy you cause with your donation. Other than that, you get a chance to see and experience the amazing sites and sounds of the beautiful country. Have you seen a very big snake before with your own eyes? There is this place in Eastern Uganda where you get to and await until a certain time. As you wait, lo and behold, a very huge snake comes out and moves majestically as everyone stands in awe. You will not believe your eyes! Have you heard of the Nile river? You will have chance to sail to its source and view with your own eyes where it begins its journey to the Mediterranean. At the shores of Lake Victoria, you get to taste some of the best fresh water fish. I know you wouldn’t want to miss visiting a home of over 400 mountain gorillas (Bwindi Impenetrable National Park), the highest population in the world, making it a bucket list item for a once in a lifetime gorilla tracking experience. Having you have an experience with mountain Rwenzori, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Mountain Elgon National park, Kasubi Tombs, Lake Bunyoyi, Crater lakes, Murchison falls and so much more. You need to come find out why Uganda is the Pearl of Africa!!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are not many friends that can listen, believe, support and work with you in this life no matter the trajectory it takes. This special shoutout goes to Kloey Battista, the co-founder & co-CEO of the Girlnow foundation. In 2016, Willow Battista did a fundraiser for a girl empowerment camp and raised upto $10,000. That same year, Willow and her two other sisters travelled to Uganda for the camp. It was at this camp that I met Kloey. The friendship started and grew. We were miles away but constantly shared experiences. It was during the COVID lockdown that I shared with her how worse the situation had gotten everywhere for girls including in Uganda. We always knew we wanted to do something for girls, and it was then that we knew we had to do it then. That gave rise to the Girlnow foundation where we believe we have to do something for girls NOW. We therefore invite you to understand that financial empowerment is not only important but urgent. I’m exceedingly grateful for Kloey for rising to action at the time Ugandan girls needed it most. I’m so grateful to Kloey and the rest of the team that has joined us at the Girlnow foundation where every day is for the girl child. The entrepreneurial journey is very uncertain and lonely. It only gets better if you tread it with supportive colleagues like you. You are a complete support system!

Website: https://girlnowfoundation.org/

Instagram: @girlchildmentor

Linkedin: Joan Nabatanzi

Twitter: @GirlNow_

Facebook: Joan Nabatanzi

Youtube: Joan Nabatanzi

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