We had the good fortune of connecting with Nathan Okiror and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nathan, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Belief in those we serve as the right principals of the desired solution to the challenges they face has played a major role in the success we hold onto as a brand. This is embedded in the notion that an outsider or an individual who isn’t experiencing what you are isn’t best placed to design a better solution to the problems that you are facing. Working with women in designing solutions to their day-to-day problems builds not only a group of active problem-solvers but also creates a pool of active mentors and facilitators well placed to support their peers going through their former state of life. Beyond, this is the aspect of who the team players are and the value attached to their contribution. I strongly believe in the team that is at the center of our growth, as not only knowledgable individuals but a dynamic group of people with hearts, minds, skills, and passion central to the brand.
What should our readers know about your business?
Imagine Her is a Ugandan nonprofit that is built to empower women and girls to be changemakers within their own communities. Originally launched to improve women’s menstrual and reproductive health, we pivoted in 2016 towards economic empowerment following a survey of beneficiaries and the wider community. Our work promotes young women’s socio-economic independence in Uganda, preventing vulnerability and exploitation via a human-centric model that delivers practical tools in social entrepreneurship, design thinking, and adaptive leadership. This provides vulnerable young women and girls with skills in social business development and ownership, social leadership, and a sustainable income. Through this work, we are driving a systemic shift in women and girls’ contribution to their communities’ wellbeing, bridging the employment gap that exists, challenging the traditional education system and building a pipeline of social leaders influencing policy change.
Though running Imagine Her is an interesting and impactful work, there have been a number of challenges that have almost led to its closure during the early stages of its inception, among which was funding, being a locally-led nonprofit in a third world country coming by philanthropic support is a huge challenge and even though it comes through there are enormous restrictions that limit the opportunity for growth within the nonprofit, this is still the challenge to date, however, setting the right programming to start with has guided our continued existence because every small-dollar is invested into the programming is spent strategically to support the growth of the organization. In addition to this, we are remodeling our organization into a social enterprise thus creating impact through earned income.
As a leader, one of the greatest lessons that I have learned along the way is that there will always be trying moments in the path to creating impact in the community but how you respond and act towards those challenges determines the next step and stage of your intervention survival. For me, one critical take away is that the turn downs from the majority of the foundations, individual donors that I have had to experience has been the opportunity to prove and the push that has driven me to grow to prove that we as an organization are standing for what really matters and supports those at the center of the challenges we are tackling to solve them.
In terms of our brand, we are restructuring for the better into Imagine Academy whose vision is to provide a futuristic and accessible innovation space for female entrepreneurs and youth to gain skills desirable to design social ventures that tackle issues associated with; climate change, women, and youth unemployment bulge, food insecurity, mental health, and education imbalance in Uganda. These are critical issues that if not handled today, have a long-term impact on the generation of today and the ones to come after. This we can’t achieve without your support and we call on to you for support to make this a reality.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Haha very good question, am super excited always about Uganda’s countryside. The Ugandan itinerary for me would include a road trip to Fort Portal popularly known now as Fort City followed by a hike of the Rwenzori mountains. While during all the travels a have a Ugandan Rolex with is; chapati and omelet with some tomatoes in it. Because am a huge fan of cheese and pizza have great Dutchess Pizza while still in Fort Portal. To sum up the trip in Kampala head down to Kazi Beach Resort to enjoy a test of Ugandan tilapia and close up the trip with a traditional dance show at Ndere Cultural Center.
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?
I want to send my Shoutout to our donors and partners both individuals and foundations. Your support and resources don’t only make the mission possible but it accelerates our efforts to build on a pipeline of women and youth leaders and social entrepreneurs designing and creating solutions to tackle the problems of today and tomorrow.
I also want to send my Shoutout to my Board of Directors who have provided the support, mentorship, and encouragement that have been vital in guiding the direction we are headed as an organization but also to myself as a leader. These individuals in their different capacities have been incredible thought partners.
Lastly, I want to send my Shoutouts to my team and all our program scholars. These are the true leaders who are taking on challenges and problems within their localities and turning those into viable solutions that are creating better living conditions among many Ugandan households.