About Us

The Story of Ukarimu

2018

The idea for Ukarimu came up in 2018, when EyeOpenerWorks and Matoke Tours collaborated with RENA Foundation Uganda, a local organization in Western Uganda, in setting up the Rwenzori Tourism Academy. They realized that there was no relevant and contextualized curriculum that new tourism academies could easily use.

That is why EyeOpenerWorks and curriculum developer Mango Tree reached out to a number of high-end lodges in Uganda, as well as to innovative training institutions in Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa with a simple question:

If they were to develop a high quality, open-source tourism & hospitality training curriculum, what should be in it?

2019

 

With the help of Booking.com, the first hospitality curriculum was launched in 2019. It was successfully piloted at the Rwenzori Tourism Academy and Karamoja Tourism Academy: both students and employers embraced it, and more than 75% of the graduates found a job within 4 months.

2020

 

And then COVID-19 hit.

Like everywhere else in the world, the tourism sector in Africa was affected heavily and many young people lost their jobs. Yet, the pandemic only increased the need for skilling, as most tourism companies are looking for staff that are more versatile and are able to implement the COVID-19 SOPs professionally. 

As a result, the Ukarimu app was developed to enable Ukarimu training even when offline training is difficult.

2021

In 2021 the Ukarimu partnership consisting of EyeOpenerWorks, Mango Tree, Matoke Tours, Tripesa and the Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA) received funding from the GIZ Employment and Skills for Development in Africa programme (E4D) to implement a new project: Ukarimu Tourism Skilling Clusters. 

"The GIZ Employment and Skills for Development in Africa programme is supporting the up-scaling of the regional tourism skilling clusters. This is important because Ugandan tourism businesses, especially those outside of Kampala, lack access to networks and knowhow that can support in issues that hinder business growth, thereby limiting employment growth in the tourism sector. These issues include poor entrepreneurial and marketing skills and the prevalence of informal work arrangements and they will be mitigated through the Ukarimu training programme,” said Donald Agaba, the Team Leader for GIZ E4D Uganda.

In this project, networks of tourism companies in various regions in Uganda join hands to implement various Ukarimu trainings: hospitality, entrepreneurship & site guiding, as well as tour/driver guiding. The Tourism Product Development curriculum can be found on this website as well, whereas the Tour/Driver Guides curriculum is currently being piloted and will probably be launched early 2022. 

2022 and beyond ....

The goal of Ukarimu remains to provide relevant training materials to anyone with an interest in training young Africans for the tourism & hospitality sector. In doing so, Ukarimu is looking for partnerships. Currently Ukarimu is mostly focused on Uganda but has the ambition to expand into other countries.

In addition, the ambition is to keep on expanding the training materials to target as many professions in the tourism & hospitality sector as possible.

Would you like to help us doing so?
Please fill in the contact form.

Partners

Ukarimu Head Office Team

Laura Valentine

Program Lead

Martijn Harlaar

Managing Director EyeOpenerWorks

Laiqah Kasule

Regional Cluster Support Lead

Abdallah Kyobe

Financial Manager

Alexander Bongers

Content Lead

Allen Kwagonza

Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) Lead

Maria Ukarimu

Role Model, Graduate & Trainer

Gloria Lucky

Admin Support

Quin Carolyne Kabahinda

Marketing Support

Eric Mukalazi

Filmmaker

Priscilla Apio

Trainer

Regional Teams Using Ukarimu

Rwenzori Tourism Academy

Sifa Mbambu, Jerry Ceaser Togo & Violet Komuhendo
Not present: Vincent Agaba, Gerald Atugonza & Paul Turyagumanawe

Southwest Tourism Academy

Mary Namugwanya, Katto Garasiano & Lillian Katusiime

Central Region

Conrad Akol (Matoke Tours, Tour Guides Training),
Elly Mwesiga (Tripesa, Product Development Training)
& Adrine Nankunda (Matoke Tours, Tour Guides Training)

Karamoja Tourism Academy & Elgon Tourism Academy

Brian Lokutae (KTA & Kara-Tunga) &
Saleh Naminya (Elgon Tourism Academy & Casa Uganda)
Not present: Peter Ichumar & Theo Vos

Frequently Asked Questions

Ukarimu is the first open-source curriculum for tourism and hospitality training in Africa. The Ukarimu team works together with innovative training institutions to implement high quality trainings. 

The approach of Ukarimu is: 

  1. Based on active learning
  2. Focused on Africa
  3. Relevant to the private sector
  4. Focused on soft and practical skills
  5. Supported with videos and an offline app
  6. Open-source
  7. Short & easy to implement

Ukarimu was developed to overcome the frustration of African tourism companies regarding the lack of practical, accessible and contextualized training materials that would help to train young people in the skills needed for a career in the tourism & hospitality sector. 

The first Ukarimu curriculum was developed in 2018 by EyeOpenerWorks and Mango Tree, two Ugandan companies that received support from tourism training providers in Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa. Financial support was provided by Booking.com. Later on other courses where added with the help of the GIZ Employment and Skills for Development in Africa programme (E4D). 

The development of Ukarimu is formally and informally supported by various organizations and individuals. The Ukarimu team wishes to thank the following organizations for their involvement and commitment: EyeOpenerWorks, the GIZ Employment and Skills for Development in Africa programme (E4D) which is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and is co-funded in Uganda by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad). We would also like to thank Booking.com, Mango Tree Educational Enterprises, Matoke Tours, Tripesa, the Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA), Urithi, the Rwenzori Tourism Academy, Kara-Tunga Arts & Tours and the Karamoja Tourism Academy.

They would also like to thank a multitude of other institutions for their collaboration and encouragement including the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), the Ugandan Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife & Antiquities, the Ugandan Directorate of Industrial Training, the Uganda Tourism Association (UTA), the Tourism & Hospitality Sector Skills Council, the Uganda Safari Guides Association (USAGA), the Association of Ugandan Tour Operators (AUTO), Enabel, PUM, Casa Uganda, SkillEd, Moonatic Marketing, the Brand Factory, Kawa Training Center, Ujima Foundation, Jobortunity, Khwela, Southwest Tourism Academy and Elgon Tourism Academy.

Finally, they would like to specifically thank April Brown, Charlotte Beauvoisin, Sam Kalule, Gloria Tumwesigye and everyone else that invested personal time and effort into developing Ukarimu.

No, Ukarimu is a program that is founded by the Ugandan organizations EyeOpenerWorks and Mango Tree. Since Mango Tree quit operations in 2021, the intellectual property is fully with EyeOpenerWorks.

Currently Ukarimu is not based on a commercial business model, as in fact the open-source nature of Ukarimu allows anyone with an interest in training young Africans to access the materials for free. Ukarimu currently works together with several training providers that implement the Ukarimu trainings.

Ukarimu works together with trainers at training institutions. In order to implement the curriculum successfully the trainers are advised to go through a Training of Trainers, which is organized occasionally. These trainers will also be helped remotely by the Ukarimu developers in implementing the training.

After a couple of years, we noticed that the ideal Ukarimu trainer is a good listener, rather than a talker. A facilitator, rather than an instructor. An experienced tourism professional, rather than an experienced teacher.

The aim is to do so, yes. The industry is changing all the time, which makes it important to keep on being updated in order to stay relevant. If you see errors or room for improvement in our curricula, please let us know!

The goal of Ukarimu is to provide relevant training materials to anyone with an interest in training young Africans for the tourism & hospitality sector. In doing so, Ukarimu is looking for partnerships. Currently Ukarimu is mostly focused on Uganda but has the ambition to expand into other countries.

In addition, the ambition is to keep on expanding the training materials to target as many professions in the tourism & hospitality sector as possible.

Most of our funding comes from development or CSR funding, as it is difficult to build a commercial business model on training fees derived from out-of-job youth. However, our growth model includes offering commercial, in-kind trainings to tourism companies in the future.

Unfortunately not. The tourism & hospitality industry has many flaws. Ukarimu aims to provide tools for both employers and employees to create and pursue decent jobs: jobs where employees are respected, paid well and where there is room for career growth.

Everyone with an interest in training young Africans in the skills needed for the tourism & hospitality industry can access the training materials for free. This does not necessarily mean that trainings are free as well, since the implementing training providers may charge fees depending on the training.

The Ukarimu curriculum is open-source and in fact, we want others to implement our training approach! Doing so the right way, will simply be a way to create more impact. If you wish to do so, please contact us to explore a collaboration. However, the intellectual ownership of the content is with EyeOpenerWorks.

The focus of Ukarimu is on soft skills such as communication, teamwork and customer service. In addition, practical skills, professional skills and tourism sector understanding are also important elements. 

Currently, two complete curricula have been developed: a Tourism & Hospitality curriculum and a Product Development curriculum. However, many more curricula and modules will be developed in the future.

No, but collaborations are sought with official assessment bodies where possible. In Uganda for example, the training providers that implement hospitality trainings are advised to work together with the Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT). Ukarimu also provides certificates during the graduation, however these are not officially recognized.

Ukarimu has different target groups. It targets different kinds of training participants, depending on the training: people in or out of jobs, hospitality staff, entrepreneurs, tour guides, etc… As long as you are based in Africa and highly motivated! 

Ukarimu also targets companies and training providers to collaborate with. In addition, it targets institutional bodies and funders to make the trainings happen.

Ukarimu offers trainings for both new and experienced staff. Generally, as long as you are fully committed, allowed to work in the country and speak English you are welcome to the training. For specific trainings, additional selection criteria might be added.

The Ukarimu Academy app is an offline tool that can be downloaded for free in the Google Play Store or be accessed online. The infrastructure is developed by Skill-Ed and the content is similar to the Ukarimu training content. However, whereas the Ukarimu curriculum targets the facilitator, the app targets the individual student. The app does not replace the physical training fully, as teamwork and practical experiences are crucial. Instead, it is just a supplementary tool that helps students to go through the content again, or to make Ukarimu content accessible for anyone that cannot attend a physical training.

It depends on the type of training. Generally, Ukarimu training does require a commitment fee to be paid. 

No, as no training provider or methodology could do that. In fact, Ukarimu aims to promote professional work attitudes: everyone needs to keep on learning throughout their lives!

No. The responsibility of Ukarimu is only to provide relevant training materials and to help the facilitators implement quality training.