Friday October 7, 2016  2:00pm EAT saw the kick start of the  Joint OpenEd Fellowship program running for 12 weeks in partnership with the ResilientAfrican Network (RAN), Open Sustainability Institute, k- Lab in Kigali and the OpenEd Initiative, which was recently founded by Ms. Laura Richards – an AidData Summer Fellow who completed her fellowship in Uganda last August 2016. Laura was inspired to keep delivering Geographic Information System (GIS) Training courses to interested passionate young people remotely to promote long life learning.

To broaden the scope of the program, the RAN Team in consultation with Laura beefed up this program to include other modules in Leadership, Open Sustainability, Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Business modelling, Human Centred Design (HCD) – User Centered Design, GIS and a module on Basic Coding, which will be delivered by Django Girls, Kampala. The cohort, which is comprised of 40 participants split between two countries, will be hosted at the EA Resilience Innovation lab (RI Lab), Kampala and at the k-Lab in Kigali. The program will also include expeditions known as “Sustainability Journeys”, where fellows will gain an appreciation for and insight into the issues on the ground to further inform their role as leaders committed to climate action and sustainability.

At the orientation and general introductory session on October 7th, Rushongoka Wa-Mpiira, Co-Founder and Managing Fellow of the Open Sustainability Institute welcomed the fellows to the “competitive and rigorous programme” and shared the program content with the fellows. “The future is in our hands,” he mentioned. “Our hope is that by the time you leave, you will have an idea or concept that will address the issues of climate change.” he added before inspiring the group with a video by former US Presidential Candidate, Al Gore- “The Case for Optimism on Climate Change” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7E1v24Dllk ).

The fellows were also welcomed by  Brian Ndyaguma, RAN Business Modeling and Innovations Mentor and Natasha Kassami, RAN Engagement Officer, who encouraged the cohort to “take full advantage of the opportunity given to them.” “Our space is open to you and we are certain that you will learn a lot from this program. It is therefore up to you to show initiative in order to gain from the most of the sessions from this program,” Natasha shared. RAN’s Deputy Chief of Party, Dr. Roy William Mayega also noted that “this program is a wonderful initiative especially for our young entrepreneurs”. He also thanked the AidData teamfor the “continued collaboration”.