Teddy Akongo: Wawero Foundation’s journey in Empowering Kisenyi II Kamwokya’s community through artistic expression and skill development

August 18, 2023

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background, and your experience. 

I am called Teddy Akongo, Co-Founder and Director of the WAWERO Foundation. An NGO that aims to offer a supportive and nurturing environment where vulnerable young individuals can develop their artistic talents, gain practical skills and pursue their passions in music, dance, and tailoring.

I am also a performing Artist who is known by her stage name Akongo Wero.

I have a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and my major was Public Relations from Makerere University, Kampala Uganda. I am currently studying guitar at Kampala Music School also in Kampala Uganda.

I was a Co-founder and worked as an administrator and project coordinator for an NGO called Clear Wall of Dreams for 4 years, and I currently work as a WASH program coordinator in a WASH pilot project in Kyebando, Uganda with a USA-based organization called Give Love.org. 

I am a detail-oriented, proactive, adaptable, and strong problem solver and very passionate about music and the guitar as an instrument. I love community work and engaging/making friends with new people, reading, writing, singing, playing my guitar, and thinking about different ideas during my free time. Modeling is an untapped silent hobby that I would wish to pursue with time.

Currently, I am working on a theme song for my Foundation and will be hitting the studio soon to record it. This theme song will bring a sense of belonging to the beneficiaries of our project and any community or individual that identifies with Wawero Foundation as a safe haven, change maker, and family.

I always wish and hope to be a bright and never dying burning candle that helps those around me get a light! I am very excited and looking forward to having a greater impact in terms of changing lives for the better and also being one great Entrepreneur… that I must!


Please describe your company story. What led you to start your social business? How did you come up with the idea to start your social business?

Wawero Foundation is a Non-Governmental Organization operating in a slum area of Kisenyi II Kamwokya with the aim of offering a supportive and nurturing environment where individuals can develop their artistic talents, gain practical skills, and pursue their passion for music, dance, and tailoring.

2017 was a terrible year for me but also a blessing in disguise. After ending an 11-year-old relationship that left me with nothing to hold on to, I got an opportunity of a sponsorship by Dargan Foods owned by a lady I call an Angel, a long-time family friend called Julie Dargan to study music at Kampala Music School. I know in my heart that if I had not joined the Music School, I wouldn’t be where I am right now and Wawero Foundation wouldn’t have seen the light of Day! I knew I needed to get out of my depression and do something meaningful and I promised myself that it would be in line with what I am passionate about…MUSIC! I could not afford to pay my fees and that’s how Julie Dargan came to my rescue and paid for my studies. 

During my study at the Music School, I realized I not only wanted to become a teacher and a performing artist but also be an instrument and vessel of change to a person who might have gone through the same situation as I did or even worse. I thought about availing a skills training center that would provide free and affordable services to the community in need. While keeping in mind the high cost of formal education in my Country, payment to acquire vocational training or a skill in music, dance or tailoring is equally costly and these are the challenges that have led to the increase in school dropouts in Uganda. Wawero Foundation would be the opposite and bring hope to those who have lost hope by skilling the unskilled.


What is the main challenge you want to solve? 

The main challenge I would want to solve is the limited opportunities for skill development through providing skills training services in music, dance, and tailoring to young vulnerable individuals both boys and girls between the ages of 13-25 years, who dropped out of school in the slum area of Kisenyi II Kamwokya, in Kampala Uganda. This initiative would not only provide them with new skills and economic opportunities but also foster a sense of community, pride, and empowerment. 

As for the time to initiate the project, we have gathered sufficient information in regards to needs assessment to understand the community therefore once we get financial support, then we can proceed with planning and implementing the project.


How did you first hear about the social business concept? When did you realize you were leading a social business?

I first heard about the social business concept from the Y&Y fellowship program. I realized I was leading a social business after the Y&Y Fellowship initial orientation workshop.


What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur?

Creativity and innovation, personal growth and development, and making a difference. All in all, having a passion for something, using it to create impact and make money, or generating income doesn’t seem like work at all. 

Being an Entrepreneur is one of the hardest things because if you do not have a business mind, and the heart of resilience then it is a wrong field to be in. The uncertainty and risk one has to take always stress me out mostly if there are limited resources to work with.


What is the most important lesson you learned in your journey as a social entrepreneur so far?

One needs to have a deep passion for a social issue, have a clear understanding of one’s purpose, and be able to commit to making a difference.


How did you hear about the Y&Y Fellowship Program?

Through a friend


What motivated you to apply?

After looking through the website, I realized that I needed the Y&Y Fellowship program for both personal and organizational development/growth. It is exactly what they do, providing a platform in line with social business growth and personal development.


How has your journey as a Y&Y Fellow been so far?

My acceptance into the program was humbling. The orientation and the training so far have gained me insights on business planning, marketing, and leadership. I appreciate the mentorship I get from my mentors as well. I have been able to refine my business ideas and create more business ideas during this period. I am also honored to have met the rest of the team and my fellow Y&Y fellows. This has been indeed a great journey that has granted me the opportunity to network and meet new people from all walks of life. The journey has been amazing so far. I have gained a family.


Why is it important to have the support of a mentor?

A mentor guides you, nurtures you, and refines you. Having a mentor means having someone with experience who will provide valuable insights and ideas and help you develop strategies and navigate challenges. I have gained all of these and am still on the road to gaining more through my mentors. Thank you Y&Y for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.


What advice would you give to a young person that is starting a social business?

Have these at your fingertips:


-Define your mission

-Research and understand your target audience

-Develop a sustainable business model

-Collaborate and build partnerships

-Do not forget to measure and communicate your impact

-Always embrace innovation and technology

-Do not hesitate to seek mentorship and guidance

-Persevere and be resilient

-Stay true to your values

-Then continuously learn and evolve.


What advice would you give to someone considering applying to the Y&Y Fellowship Program?

Take the first step and apply because once you get through, your chances of success are high and the opportunity of learning and developing valuable skills for your personal and social business development is unlimited.

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