Fellow Since 2008
Rockford Harris Group
This profile was prepared when Shaka Robert was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Shaka is creating new roles for university-educated professionals to drive economic development programs and help eradicate poverty in some of Uganda’s most impoverished and disenfranchised communities. He recognized that the large and growing base of Ugandan professionals represented an untapped resource that could be brought to the service of impoverished rural areas where most government programs have proven ineffective. Shaka’s idea is built on a virtual platform that connects skilled professionals with rural farming communities to collectively improve productivity and incomes on farms, and address a wide rang of rural development issues. Shaka is careful not to impose experts’ ideas on rural communities. In fact, the platform is built to analyze challenges farmers are facing and to channel expertise towards ideas and strategies that are locally born and that can be implemented using local resources. Each issue drawn from the community-defined priorities is then debated online. The participating professionals examine the gaps in processes and structures and identify areas where they could intervene. They then devote part of their holiday time to live and work with farmers’ groups to implement the suggested interventions. In its initial phase, Shaka’s program has already reached thousands of farmers and their families and successfully influenced professionals to pursue roles in community development. The platform increasingly welcomes the participation of a global audience.