Since arriving in Kampala, I’ve been looking to connect with others in the region who are using design to solve complex problems. For a while, the only evidence I’d found of such a community existing was a Facebook page for a group whose last post was announcing an event back in January. Not very promising.
I started looking up resources and suggestions for running user tests in Uganda and found an article by Jacqui Watson of Praekelt.org sharing the lessons she learned performing user tests in Kabale, Uganda. Praekelt.org doesn’t have an office in Uganda so there’s no opportunity to meet with them, but it was encouraging to see other teams practicing human-centred design in Uganda.
After a bit more searching, I came across an organization called Design Without Borders which appeared to operate exclusively in Uganda. Reading through their case studies, I was floored by the work they were doing. I sent an email in the hopes of connecting with someone there and when I received a response, was pleasantly surprised to be invited to the grand opening of their new office in a new co-working space called Design Hub Kampala.
The following Saturday, my partner, a colleague, and I found ourselves wandering through a beautifully renovated warehouse which now houses eight design-focused companies. The space was filled with glass walls, modern wooden desks, and presentations of work from each tenant.
I spoke briefly with one of Design Without Borders’ design trainees who shared her story of joining the organization with a background in interior design and being trained in human-centred design. To learn of an organization in Kampala so focused on training a new generation of local designers was inspiring.
Design Hub Kampala appears to be an amazing addition to the community of Kampala. My hope is that in the short time I have left in Uganda I can make some connections with people in the space and begin the process of growing Ensibuuko’s design team.