Published: 08 June 2015
THE HISTORY OF SINFA UGANDA LTD.
As a retired business man I became active in 2010 in the Internet Now project, through my old deputy at Nozema, Peter Walop. As he was working with Martin van der Steen on the concept for this unique project, especially to bring together social objectives and a sustainable organization,
I stressed to them the need for a for-profit organization modelled along the lines of the Van Leer Foundation in The Netherlands. In this concept the shares of a for-profit company are in the hands of a social foundation without profit objectives.
The main objective of such a foundation is to support the company and finance its future activities thus making it sustainable. Over the years the Van Leer Foundation has proved that such an approach can work very well. As this was a new way of development work we also had to convince the Board of Directors of Oxfam/Novib and the NPL for this idea, which we did.
At the end of 2011 it became clear that the Internet Now project had a very good chance to win the Dream Fund subsidy, so I asked Peter and Martin to prepare the essential project documents to make a quick start possible in February 2012. As Martin got started in February 2012 with the project I worked with him and others at Oxfam/Novib on the establishment of “Stichting Internet Now Foundation” (called SINF) as the main shareholder of the new to be formed company SINFA Uganda Ltd.
The realisation of these two organizations took many months also due to the fact that SINF was to be established in The Netherlands and SINFA in Uganda. Many discussions with lawyers and accountants in both countries were necessary. Also the fact that Oxfam/Novib was not familiar with these aspects played a roll. Next to that I played an advisory role to Martin on the contracts with the partners and on the organisation of the project in general and specific in Uganda.
After SINF was started, due to all my work in the years before and based on my experiences as a businessman having worked in management positions in the international high-tech industry, I was asked by Oxfam/Novib to be the Chairman of SINF and as a result of that also the Chairman of SINFA Ltd. Based on these roles I was also appointed to the Coordination Committee of Internet Now.
As we started in the summer of 2012 in Gulu it became apparent that very few people in the project really had any idea how a company had to be set-up. For the first time for Oxfam/Novib was involved in starting a business while at the same time its procedures and the work of its people were based on another (non-profit) culture. To have them accept this new way of development work, partly in line with The Dutch Government Policy on the work in the future of the NGO’s, took a lot of my energy!
SINFA Ltd. was from the beginning faced with strong delays in three important pillars of the company: the connection to the National Backbone, less BPO work than planned and more work had to be done before we could start CRP, causing many problems inside and outside the organization.
This created a situation that I got more and more involved in the day to day operations of SINFA till we had a new General Manager.
In the summer/fall of 2013, still lacking adequate financial reports about the projects and the delays faced, I took the initiative to evaluate the project and came up with a new strategy , based on the idea’s that I had at that time.
Brian Longwe and his team in Gulu started to develop these idea’s into a concrete Business Plan and in February 2014 I came to Gulu to help them finalizing the BP.
In May-July 2014 we selected new Board Members for SINFA, got a new General Manager, filled in different management functions, had internal manuals and procedures established that I requested earlier, started CRP and finally we were connected to the National Backbone, bringing us the much needed high quality internet connection, the fundamental of this project!
From the summer of 2014 it was now up to the people in Gulu to make the project a success!
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