Michael Tumwesigye dreamed of building a nonprofit to help vulnerable children in his hometown in Uganda. He knew he needed more advanced education and business skills to realize his vision, but financial circumstances put most training options out of his reach. When he found Coursera, however, he was able to apply for Financial Aid and earn Course Certificates in several relevant subjects. His new skills helped him change the lives of hundreds of orphans and teachers in his community.
In 2007, Michael Tumwesigye left his job as a teacher to help his aunt start a nonprofit in his hometown of Kampala, Uganda. Their organization, “In Need Home,” worked to protect and educate orphans and other vulnerable children in the local community. Michael dreamed of expanding the In Need Home’s curriculum and services, but despite having completed a BA prior to beginning his teaching career, he lacked the specific skills and experience that he needed to effectively grow a nonprofit – and given his limited financial resources, he couldn’t pursue a formal advanced degree.
Searching for lower-cost options online, Michael found Coursera. He was thrilled to see that he could apply for Financial Aid, and he quickly started taking courses in relevant business and education topics. He proudly added each Certificate – including a Specialization Certificate from The University of California, Irvine’s Virtual Teacher Program – to his LinkedIn profile.
Michael’s Coursera experience helped him think more strategically about serving his community, and he saw opportunities that he hadn’t recognized before. He started a social enterprise called Snacks for Education (S4E), which produces packaged snacks like roasted peanuts and plantain chips to sell at local supermarkets; all proceeds from S4E sales are used to provide educational opportunities for orphans living in the slums. He also founded a teachers association, Country Society for Technology Education (COSOTED), which offers face-to-face workshops to help teachers integrate technology in their classrooms. To date, COSOTED has reached over 300 teachers in the region around Kampala.
For Michael, the biggest reward of learning has been the ability to make an impact on his community. “Without Coursera,” he says, “I feel I would be irrelevant to this world. Thanks to Coursera, I feel that I have done something for my country, especially for orphans and other vulnerable children living in the slums of Kampala.”3