Five Questions with Kiima Stephen, founder of Calligraphic Art & Branding in Uganda

by | Mar 13, 2020 | Seeds: Our Blog


“The TPP Grant was a seed for me to start my journey; it turned my dreams into a real sense of work that I was passionate about. It changed my life because I have created a large network of people I work with and the society I serve.”
–Kiima Stephen, founder of Calligraphic Fine Art & Branding

Q: In a few words, can you tell us about your project and how you came up with the idea?

A: The primary goal of my project, Calligraphic Fine Art & Branding, is to provide skills to school dropouts as a way to raise income for self-reliance, improved livelihood, suppressing actions of engaging in drug abuse and drug injection, prostitution, illegal money swindling, early marriage, etc. and hence they are able to afford scholastic materials to take them back to school.
This project was started after my realization of an ever-increasing number of school dropouts in Kasese Uganda because they come from poor families who don’t have the money necessary to continue with their children’s education.
Calligraphic Fine Art and Branding is a beautiful discipline in creative art which is a form of communication about what is intended to be communicated or meant. It is shaped by the materials, techniques, and forms, as well as the ideas and feelings it creates to the viewers, so It’s an act of expressing feelings, thoughts, and observations.

Q: What inspired you to start this project?

A: Kasese and the entire Rwenzori region is endowed with beautiful scenery which has attracted tourists who have provided a market for calligraphic fine art and branding products and services. This sounded to me as a stepping stone to engage school dropouts who were available with no functional skills and came up with a plan to train them with skills in calligraphic fine art and branding in order to serve the community needs, have a better livelihood in the future, and also make the community a better place for everyone to live.

Q: How did the TPP grant help you?

A: The TPP Grant was a seed for me to start my journey, it turned my dreams into a real sense of work that I was passionate about. It changed my life because I have created a large network of people I work with and the society I serve. In fact I am being consulted by other organizations and companies about my work. The seed grant has helped me to:

  • Trained 25 school dropouts both male and female which planted a seed of hope in their souls since it came in as a bridge for their self-esteem. The project has also served a larger population ranging from 150 more beneficiaries who benefited through a training program which has kept the project ongoing.
  • Found partnership with other organizations to brand t-shirts having an awareness message about restoring hope among orphaned children, menstruation management and hygiene among teenage girls, the spread and prevention of hepatitis using branded awareness bracelets, and human-elephant conflict mitigation in Kasese.
  • Laid a foundation for me to have most requirements to start a graphics and designing school that will provide branding skills, branding services and employment to the community as my contribution to the community and a stepping stone towards achieving the sustainable development goals.

Q: What are your future hopes and dreams for this project?

A: I plan to expand this project by starting a formal school of calligraphy and branding as a unique venture to train the local population (not just school dropouts) who will pay a subsidized fee to learn. I will be able to provide them with certificates of completion and also retain some as interns to expand their experience before joining the job market. I will have the school connected to different companies and outsource jobs for our trainees in such companies so that they do not suffer on the street looking for employment.

Q: What has been the impact of teaching these children the art of calligraphy and branding?

A: The skills that the school dropouts have acquired have directly contributed to:

  1. Positioning the beneficiaries at the center of acquiring employment because of the skills gained, self-employment by setting and starting up own businesses that will in turn offer services and employment to the community.
  2. Engaging in crucial marketing practices of creating business names, logo, design, and the symbolic elements related to brands having distinctive identity that is achieved through a set of skills that position and inscribe words to show integrity, harmony, rhythm and creativity.
  3. Raising awareness and knowledge about issues affecting the community, whose examples are not limited to raising awareness about life-threatening diseases [like HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Hepatitis, Malaria, Sickle Cell Anemia], raising awareness about Human-Animal conflict and natural resource conservation, awareness about girl child education, ending early child marriage, addressing menstrual hygiene and management among teen girls.

TPP is thrilled to have supported Kiima on his arts and community building initiatives in Kasese, Uganda. Not only has he supported children who had been forced to drop out of school due to financial difficulties and helped them find employment and a new livelihood, he has also used his skills in calligraphy and branding to raise awareness about important issues facing his community. Thank you, Kiima, for being such a vibrant member of our community of changemakers!

Written by AJ Dahiya