Destination: Uganda

Hello everyone!

What follows will be a series of blog posts recounting our trip to Uganda as Rockflower Global Ambassadors. To learn a little more about myself (Taylor Washburn) or Emily Chandler you can go to the Rockflower website. 

 Emily Chandler and Taylor Washburn

Emily Chandler and Taylor Washburn

First, a little background on our trip and how we got involved with Rockflower. While teaching at a boarding school in Massachusetts, we were introduced to Tine Ward, the mother of two of our students - Fran and Lulu. For those of you who follow Rockflower, you will recognize all of these individuals for the incredible work they are doing on behalf of women around the world. Fran and Lulu introduced us to Rockflower, the not-for-profit investment fund founded by their mother. Rather than identifying and developing projects around the world to empower women and girls, Rockflower invests in projects and groups already on the ground, projects run by the very people they will impact. This model resonated with us as teachers because we have seen first hand how much more powerful and lasting intrinsic motivators can be compared to extrinsic motivators.

Rockflower believes that investing in women is the key to global peace and prosperity. Their Five Keys are the fundamental framework which women and girls need to build prosperous and successful lives. This framework provides a holistic approach to addressing the most critical challenges facing women and girls within their communities and larger societies - challenges such as poverty, malnutrition, infant mortality, violence, conflict and lack of education. This felt like something we wanted to invest ourselves in and make a long-term commitment to. We reached out to Tine with a simple question, “How can we get more involved? Involved in a way that we can see the impact of the investment of our time and resources?” Our conversations with Tine led to the creation of the Rockflower Global Ambassadors. In this role we would work to support Rockflower and get a chance to go see some of the results of Rockflower’s investments first hand. This would be an opportunity not only to see that work up close but also for those organizations to have face to face personal interactions with Rockflower ambassadors.

Our first project was to raise funds and awareness around Rockflower’s partner S.O.U.L. Foundation. We were able to reach out to some of the communities we have been involved in and saw incredible support for this project. We thought more about the value of these dollars and the impact they would have on these communities and we decided to ask guests at our wedding to redirect money for wedding gifts towards this cause. Again, we were awed by the generosity of friends and family.

 

The second phase of this project, and arguably the more important phase, was to actually go to Uganda to visit S.O.U.L. Foundation. Even more, there are seven other Rockflower partners in Uganda and we planned to visit with all of them. This was an incredible opportunity not just for us but for Rockflower to finally meet the people they had invested in. If we have learned anything through this experience it is that you invest in people, people make the difference. Our trip was going to be a whirlwind, but well worth it. We would depart on Wednesday, July 11th with the following itinerary:

  • July 11th: Depart for Uganda

  • July 12-19th: Visit with SOUL Foundation (Bujagali Falls)

  • July 20th: Travel to Kasese

  • July 21st: Meet with Hope for Rural Women, RWICOD, Rwenzori United Group for Life Improvement

  • July 22nd: Listening Session w/ 50+ potential Rockflower partners

  • July 23rd: Travel to Kampala

  • July 24th: Meet with Hope for the Future, Rainbow House of Hope

  • July 25th: Travel to Mbale

  • July 26th: Meet with UWADS

  • July 27th: Travel to Kamuli, meet with UCF

  • July 28-3th: Return to SOUL Foundation

  • July 31st: Depart for United States

We were excited to be able to visit with each partner and also a little intimidated by the sheer volume of it all. The trip was made possible by the generosity of many and we are excited to share with you what we learned, both personally and as Rockflower Ambassadors.

Welcome to Rockflower's Currency of Mind™ Blog

In the Currency of Mind blog, we will discuss recent insights gleaned from the wider development and impact investing community as well as our projects and partnerships.

Please check back frequently for new additions to the blog or subscribe to Rockflower updates on our homepage.

What does It mean to have a Currency of Mind?

The concept "Currency of Mind™ is based on the premise that the mind is the most valuable and powerful currency, i.e. means of exchange, that exists. Everything of value starts with an idea created in someone's mind. When you share an idea it increases, it expands and takes on energy – becomes currency.

Whilst money is still the currency of choice (and store of value) for now, note that the ways we assign and transfer value are under review. In a very short time, the technology behind blockchain will revolutionize so many of the transactions in our lives and alter the ways many industries transfer worth, including philanthropy.

However, Rockflower has chosen from the outset to place the Currency of Mind™ - ideas - at the forefront of what we consider valuable. Our intention has been to consistently find ways to unblock the flow of money to those whose ideas have the greatest potential for growth.

A good example of Currency of Mind™ in action is the evolution of Rockflower's partnership with Women Advocacy Project (WAP), based in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Constance Mugari, Executive Director, who, as you will see, is aptly named, contacted Rockflower back in May 2016 – at a time when our current commitments were already stretching our resources. However, a conversation took place that remained – well – “constant”. Even though from a practical standpoint there seemed little reason to continue conversing – we did just that -  based on the mutual feeling that something valuable would come from it.

 Constance Mugari, Executive Director, speaking at Give Us Books, Not Husbands event.

Constance Mugari, Executive Director, speaking at Give Us Books, Not Husbands event.

In November last year, Rockflower and Women Advocacy Project launched the first campaign – “Give Us Books Not Husbands”. Although a small initiative, the power of the original idea and the commitment to seeing beyond what at first seemed possible, led to connections and initiatives that have benefited Women Advocacy Project and it's beneficiaries.

The Give Us Books Not Husbands campaign increased visibility for WAP and led to valuable connections with other international organizations, greatly increasing WAP's potential new sources of funding. Constance's meticulous attention to detail and determination to follow through on endless applications and recommendations created constant forward momentum. This resulted in a new WAP website which was developed, pro bono, providing a valuable online presence, something Constance always knew was needed to expand their work.

A little over a year after our first contact, Women Advocacy Project is on track to exponentially grow their organization as well as their reach to improve the lives of young girls and women in Harare, Zimbabwe.

In the words of Constance Mugari:

“This wouldn't have been possible without your support and recommendations. We want to say a million thanks once again for the work and impact you are making in the lives of many poor women, girls and children around the globe. Thank you Tine for all the support and partnership. You have given WAP a name through the support we received from Rock Flower Fund.”

The power of the Currency of Mind™ lies in not being afraid that our ideas might be lost or come to nothing. Instead we look at what might be gained by simply sharing them.