The National Peace Corps Association(NPCA), the nation’s leading nonprofit organization supporting Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and the Peace Corps community, announced today that Johnstone Baguma of Uganda is the grand-prize winner of the Africa Rural Connect(ARC) 2010 ideas competition. Winners of the year’s four rounds and other noteworthy ideas submitted to the ARC online contest, including runners-up, competed for the grand prize. The panel of judges selected Baguma to receive $12,000 to implement a small-scale rural maize project in Uganda. ARC, launched last year by NPCA, is an online community that fosters collaborative thinking to generate ideas to help solve rural Africa’s greatest challenges.
“We had several really good ideas, so our judges had a hard time choosing the grand-prize winner,” says Molly Mattessich, manager of online initiatives for the National Peace Corps Association and a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali. “Baguma’s rural maize project serves as a model grassroots idea for others looking to develop ways to help improve rural Africa.”
Baguma is founder and executive director of Toro Development Network (ToroDev), a community-based, non-governmental organization that promotes the access and strategic use of information communication technologies for development in western region of Uganda. His idea focuses on strengthening the capacity of small-scale rural maize farmers, focusing on demand-driven production for urban markets. The maize crop has been identified by ToroDev because of its multiplier effect: It serves both as a staple food and source of income for farmer’s households in the targeted rural community.
In addition to Wilber James, managing general partner with Rockport Capital, the other judges on the panel included Maréme Jamme, CEO of SpotOne Global Solutions, and Bruce McNamer, president and CEO of TechnoServe.
“The real winners of this contest continue to be those who live in rural Africa and benefit from all of the thought and hard work that goes into generating ideas for Africa Rural Connect,” adds Mattessich. “It’s always a struggle to choose from so many worthy ideas and this year was no different.”
To share your ideas and be part of the ARC online community, visit: http://www.AfricaRuralConnect.org