Class is in Session: Update on our Skills Development Program

Class is in Session: Update on our Skills Development Program

Community-based organizations play a crucial role in bringing about positive change at the local level, but they often face many obstacles in their work and growth. At Lightup Impact, we want to help them overcome these challenges and amplify their impact and sustainability.


That’s why we created the Skills Development and Innovation for Impact Program, a collaborative initiative that supports community-based organizations and nonprofits in East Africa by building their skills and capacity, which are essential for their long-term success. 


The program is designed to provide customized training, mentoring, and networking opportunities for our selected members (Usanii Village Africa and Soulevement) based on their specific needs and goals.


Questions we wanted to answer with our needs assessment:

  • What do our members need? 
  • How can we ensure that our program is relevant, responsive, and tailored to their preferences? 
  • How can we involve the selected members in the co-creation of the program?


Our approach:  We spent two days with each organization, getting to know their teams and how they operate. This was followed by an in-depth focus group discussion (FGD) and a thorough needs assessment for each organization using a custom tool developed by our team.

The focus group discussion

The FGD was a collaborative and engaging session involving our team on the ground and team members from both Usanii Village Africa and Soulevement. The purpose of the discussion was to understand the development stage of their organizations, identify the challenges and opportunities in existing capacity building and skills development training, and explore solutions to enhance the impact of such training.

Common challenges

  • Soulevement emphasized their need for capacity building and highlighted their efforts to address related challenges through education on collaboration, networking, and seeking relevant training from other organizations. They conducted online and local, in-person courses on budgeting, impact measurement, strategic development, and stakeholder mapping but found limitations in the number of topics covered.


  • Usanii Village Africa highlighted their challenges with funding and engaging stakeholders. In the past, they’ve navigated these challenges by consulting within the team, learning from other organizations, and intensifying skill-building within themselves. The limitations of their training efforts included time constraints and the need for ongoing follow-up. Participants felt that longer-term training would be more effective for knowledge implementation.

Room for improvement

The organizations also highlighted positive aspects that have emerged from their efforts, including strengthened partnerships, increased visibility, and useful contacts gained through skill-building activities. But improvements can always be made. A few were highlighted, including more productive collaboration, interactive sessions with successful organizations, and a focus on applying learned knowledge to organizational objectives.

Our needs assessment tool

To further refine our understanding, we introduced a needs assessment tool thoughtfully crafted for this purpose. This tool provided a structured framework to discuss vital aspects of organizational growth. The organizations were encouraged to reflect, discuss, and score themselves, fostering self-awareness regarding their strengths and areas that required attention. The tool not only facilitated honest self-evaluation but also laid the groundwork for objective analysis.

The results and next steps

The needs assessment results were very informative and shaped how we co-created our program with our members. Based on the results, we selected several main topics that we will cover in our training modules over the next few months, as well as the specific learning objectives and outcomes that we’ll aim to achieve. 


In a nutshell, the program will run from February to December and consist of:

  • 9 online training modules,
  • 2 on-site training sessions in Kenya and Uganda,
  • 2 exchange visits for the organizations to share knowledge and receive peer-to-peer support,
  • weekly coaching sessions, and finally,
  • a graduation ceremony in Eldoret.


Each month, the organizations will focus on one topic:

Skills development and innovation for impact program content and timeline

The program has kicked off, with the first session on aligning work plans, budgets, and annual goals already delivered.


Over the next few coming months, we’ll be sharing feedback from our participants and regular updates on each session here on our blog.


In the meantime, check out these testimonials from our participants:

About the Blog

The Lightup Impact blogs cover compelling and valuable topics relevant to its members, partners, investors, and anyone with an interest in the work of grassroots social organizations active in women’s health and gender equality in East Africa.


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We increase the visibility and impact of social organizations with a focus on women’s health and gender equality in Kenya. We support the growth of our founders through tailored mentoring and networking opportunities