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KES newsletter - August

9 August, 2016

KES and Brexit

What issues does Brexit raise for KES? Are there risks to our charity from the vote to leave the EU? How should we act to get the best out of the situation for KES's beneficiaries - our sponsored scholarship students in Kenya?

The KES trustees considered these questions at our (unintentionally timely) annual strategic review meeting on 11 July 2016.

A shock to the UK economy is of huge concern to us primarily because it is likely to impact on the exchange rate with Kenya. We pay our sponsored students' school fees in Kenyan Shillings (KS). If the pound weakens and so buys fewer KS, it is more expensive to pay Kenyan school fees from the UK and we need to raise more pounds. Over the last 12 months the exchange rates with Kenya have ranged from £1 buying 162 KS down to 129 KS*. Temporary ups and downs are manageable but if the value of the pound falls and stays down, that is more serious.

Another economic worry is the potential drop in disposable incomes. A real drop or just continuing uncertainty could make it difficult for our existing supporters to keep going with their sponsorships, or for us to win new supporters to commit to a 4 year sponsorship. This would hinder our ability to grow by sponsoring more students. (KES currently sponsors 65 school students on scholarships and we have set ourselves a target to increase that number to 100 by 2019). 

Sponsored students at Mount Longonot National Park Oct 2015
The sponsored students at Mount Longonot National Park Oct 2015

To ensure KES has the stability to ride out these economic headwinds, we work to raise additional funds backing up the sponsorship commitments and providing KES with a financial ‘cushion’. The trustees are confident we are in a strong position financially at the moment.

Aside from the economy, the feelings and emotions unleashed by the Brexit referendum and vote to leave seem to have given licence in some places to unpleasant behaviour and more openly expressed racism, even hate crime. ‘Overseas aid’ is a political target, and there is a mood that we should look after ourselves first. Even before the Brexit vote, KES has encountered reluctance by organisations such as supermarkets to allow collections for ‘non local’ charities. This is disappointing and obviously affects our ability to raise funds to support the charity.

These are all issues for KES and we need to be aware of them as potential risks to our activities in support of bright but extremely poor school students in Kenya.

But on the upside, KES supporters are extremely generous. You wouldn't be KES supporters at all if you weren't fired up by the wish to help others far from our homes and in very great need of our generosity. The KES trustees discussed how we need to work hard to communicate to supporters the benefits for our sponsored scholars and for education in Kenya. If we do this well we are playing a part in voicing a different narrative countering the negativity around Brexit, and helping to harness people's kindness and willingness to help others far from home.

Nicola Hart

*Currently 132KS

University admissions from BDA

We’re thrilled to announce that three KES scholars have been admitted to universities. Huge congratulations to them and special thanks to the support from sponsors, the help of BDA and their own hard work and determination.

Nahashon Njuguna is off to the Meru University of Science and Technology to study for a Bachelor of Science Statistics

Martin Njuguna Njoroge is to study Bachelor of Arts (Development Studies with IT) at Maseno University

Antony Kibet is going to the Co-operative University College of Kenya to Diploma in Information Technology

Nahashon, Nicky and Martin
Simon and Antony

KES Annual report and accounts

The KES Annual Report and Accounts have been completed, verified and submitted to Charity Commission. As always they are publically accessible on the Charity Commission’s website.

News from Kenya

School fires trend

Across Kenya 70 schools have been set on fire by students over various grievances. There is suspicion that a few unruly students, poor management and corruption especially in the public sector schools are the main factors. A copycat effect among neighbouring schools where students try to copy each other has also been blamed.

Joseph and the team at BDA have spent considerable time talking to students about the need to remain focused and the importance of looking after their own surroundings to deter any similar occurrences at BDA. So far the response has been very positive. The sponsored students (through KES and other funders) hugely value the opportunity they’re given and the facilities of the school and are understandably upset about the actions across the country.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Kenya

Some of you may have seen a recent BBC new item about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Kenya (available here). It seems so shocking to us that the practice still happens, but as the film explains there is real hope and local action on the ground from people who know the cultural challenges. BDA also take on girls at risk and work hard to sensitively educate all their students.  What we do can, and does, make a difference.

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