East African Playgrounds

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East African Playgrounds

Betchworth, United KingdomAll over Uganda, Uganda
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We see development in Africa a different way,
By creating jobs, sports coaching and places to Play.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Our focus surrounds Article 31 of the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child which is constantly overlooked; “rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities”. Play helps to alleviate the stresses of children living in poverty by providing an opportunity for all children to enjoy and learn together (Lester & Russell 2010). Across East Africa there are millions of children who lack safe and fun play spaces and equipment, hindering their social development. To ensure a positive impact on the wider community we also aim to; empower communities, increase levels of employment and training in Uganda and provide fair priced volunteering opportunities.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

To build community centred playgrounds through our Ugandan team funded by UK volunteers, alongside initiating skills transferring sports programs lead by trained Ugandan sports coaches. Communities who wish for these facilities approach EAP who then will hold a community meeting to register interest, size of land and their commitment. If successful the financial and volunteer commitments of both EAP and the community is discussed along with the designs of the playgrounds. Working together the playground is built and the skills transfer program is initiated. At the end of the project the community is provided with a fully functioning playground with the knowledge and skills to maintain it as well as newly trained sports coaches with manuals and the equipment to train and compete.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Our peers are the other playground and sports related charities in the world. We are currently working towards creating a coalition to commit to providing high standards with the seven playground charities. We are also working alongside five highly respected sports charities to develop our sports programs and provide sports equipment. Due to our business model our competitors are the ‘gap year’ companies. We combat their recruitment budget by having a personable approach with university partnerships and by keep the cost of volunteering at around a third of their charge. Also all of the money the volunteers raise goes to the charities work.
About You
East African Playgrounds
Background Information
First Name


Last Name


The competition is only open to people between 18-34 years-old and resident in UK, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark or the Netherlands. Does this apply to you


Country of residence of entrepreneur

Tell us about your personal background. Why are you passionate about this issue? Making an idea a reality takes innovation, dedication and strong leadership. Do you have the necessary entrepreneurial skills to realize your vision?

Carla Powell and Tom Gill founded East African Playgrounds in 2009 after several months work and travel in East Africa and seeing the lack of play and sports facilities across the region. At the time they were both in the middle of degrees at the University of Leeds. Whilst studying Childhood, Educations and Culture and Social Policy respectively, they began planning the first playground build. They developed EAP’s business model so that the playgrounds could be funded through UK volunteers and built alongside Ugandan workers and volunteers. This model saw each build as a partnership with EAP and the local community. This community involvement has meant that the playgrounds and projects have a long-lasting impact on the community. Carla and Tom saw that using young people across the UK and East Africa they could promote development through play, sports, arts and reading. They use their combined experience in play, project leadership and building, whilst always valuing others expertise, to continually expand and improve EAPs projects and programs.

About Your Organization
Organization Name

East African Playgrounds

Organization Country

, SRY, Betchworth

Country where this project is creating social impact

, XX, All over Uganda

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The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities

Our three core values are community involvement, local investment and minimal overhead. Our projects work because we have a dedicated Ugandan team whose training, health and progression are intertwined with the health and progression of the charity. Each playground and sports project starts with a school or community contacting our Ugandan team and arranging a community meeting. For a year prior to the start of the build the community and our Ugandan team develop a partnership that fosters community involvement and ownership. The community must agree to support the projects however they can.

Our Playground are all built by our Ugandan building team and use all local materials including recycled items. Our sports program has been designs alongside the International Netball Federation and the Craig Belleamy Foundation to train teachers and parents on how to become good sports coaches. We do this because in East Africa there is very little training in Physical Education for teachers. This leads to low standards of coaching, which leads to children missing out on the benefits of sport. In one month our sports program aims to leave a community with a teacher and several parents who are able to coach the children to a high level in Football, Netball and Volleyball. We also work with partners to provide each school with the sports equipment to continue their coaching. We follow up the program with regular visits and tournaments between the schools we work with.

How we finance the projects is key to the success of our work. We have developed our volunteer projects to be able to fund our programs as well as giving a great value volunteering opportunity and experience to people in the UK. After every recruitment faze we can access our budget for the year and then plan for the amount of projects we can run. At the moment we are running 8 volunteer projects a year. This has enabled us to invest in local people to develop our Ugandan team. We started with 1 builder, 1 welder and 1 apprentice all fulltime in 2010. Now are team has grown to 1 area manager, 3 builders, 2 welders, 2 apprentice welders and 3 sports coaches. Each member of our team has to start as a volunteer for one month so that they can understand the ethos of the charity and show their commitment to our work. Then once both parties are happy we start each employee on a health care program and training program in areas specific to them. Every year we have increased the amount of volunteer projects we run which in turn creates more playgrounds and more sports training programs. This means more children gaining safe and fun places to play whilst more teachers and parents are able to learn coaching skills and gain sports equipment that will ultimately benefit the children and the community. The more work we do the more local people we can invest in and train as builder, welders or managers.

Select the stage that best applies to your business

Operating for 1-5 years

Social Impact
What is the social impact you have had to date and how you measure it?

In three years of running we have built twelve Playgrounds, employed eight Ugandans, taken seventy volunteers out to East Africa and invested £80,000 in East Africa. In such a short time of operation we have earned an excellent reputation for providing valuable volunteer opportunity, year round employment for local Ugandans and a long-lasting community asset for 12 communities. We have estimated that an average of five-hundred children directly benefit from one playground. We are in the process of writing a research plan to access the affect playgrounds have had on other aspects of the children and communities life.

What barriers might hinder the success of your business? How do you plan to overcome them?

As with most organisation lack of funding is our major threat we have always been aware of this problem and therefore tried to actively source funding from different resources. By providing volunteering opportunities we are able to generate money through essentially selling our volunteering projects to people who may not otherwise donate. Volunteer projects are time consuming and we need to expand our funding in order to expand our work across East Africa.

How does your model address financial, social, and environmental sustainability?

Though three core beliefs mentioned above we are committed to working towards these three key aspects. Our volunteer projects sustainably fund the playground build and Ugandan staff, whilst direct debits, fundraisers and seeking foundations and trust support funds our UK costs. We are currently exploring alternative income streams to help expand the programs across East African through forms of Match funding from UK trusts, Companies and schools.
Communities are vital at every stage of our work and it is these communities that really make our programs succeed. Each year we review each community partnership to ensure continual improve in our work. This partnership creates a sense of ownership, responsibility and a long-lasting relationship between us and the community. This enables the playgrounds to be maintained and the sports programs to be an ongoing success.
In Uganda there are massive issues with deforestation and unsustainable wood supplies. We use steel made in Uganda to reduce the carbon footprint of our main material. We also recycle thousands of old tyres by incorporating then into our designs.

Awareness & learning
How do you see social entrepreneurship contributing to the improvement of developing countries?

Development will not happen without the willingness and support from those being impacted upon. We need to provide people with opportunities, not just free handouts. Social entrepreneurship in developing countries is about innovative ideas that people believe in and can benefit from whilst the profits being re-investing in the communities to ensure ongoing success. We feel that developing countries are already leading the way in small social enterprise; they just need a bit of extra support. To summaries, anyone can raise money to build a standard playground in a felid; it is much harder to build a community centred playground that creates respect, ownership and a willingness to maintain for years to come.

What aspects of your stay in Uganda as part of the competition do you think you will find most challenging and rewarding?

In light of the fact we primarily work in Uganda, this opportunity would benefit our development in a completely different and unique way to other potential organisations. We feel it will allow us to explore a different perspective of how others work in Uganda, and experience the ups and downs of working as a big Organisation within Uganda. We will hopefully be able to include some of our Ugandan staff in the trip so that they can see aspects that will really affect them and enable us both to develop the runnings of the charity. It will also be a great chance to network and meet other people in a completely different but relevant felid to us.