Micro Grants

Whenever possible, we at The Small Things believe in keeping children in their communities with whatever family they have, be it biological or adoptive. According to UNICEF estimates, as many as one in six families in East Africa is caring for at least one an orphaned or abandoned child. As part of our work with Nkoaranga orphanage, we are developing a pilot program which seeks to help those in the surrounding community who are outside of the structure of an orphanage, but who are nonetheless playing an active part in caring for orphaned children. We choose to support them not just because it is the right thing to do, but also to investigate whether this is an efficient and cost-effective way of keeping children well cared for without the intervention of orphanages.

Thriving local marketplaces

The program will seek to help families affected by parental death – whether they are families caring for orphaned children, families who have lost a parent and are in danger of having to give a child to an orphanage, or young adults who have been orphaned. The program will run for 6 months, and will target from 8 to 10 participants who fit the following criteria:

• Are living in extreme poverty, AND 
• either run a struggling business OR 
• want to start a new business. 

We are targeting individuals for whom a small lump sum grant (from $50 to $100), along with business training, will realize their potential for growth to the point where they are able to sufficiently care and provide for their households in the long term. We will also build an incentive component into the program, with a further grant allocated halfway through the program if they are meeting mutually agreed upon targets. Follow up will continue for six months using personalized “report cards” created for each participant.

We have a fantastic team working with us on this project. Learn a bit more about each of them, below!

Adam Ross Russell: Adam is an American third year business student at Bryant University who will be heading up this project. He has developed a simplified business curriculum, and will be working in conjunction with Rehema and Vaileth to teach it to the participants. He will also lead the participant selection.


Riz Kaiser Din: Riz is a graduate of the University of Hertfordshire, in southern England, holding an HND in Computing, an undergraduate degree in Software Systems for Art & Media, and a Master of Arts in Interactive Multimedia/Information Design, as well as prior experience in East Africa. He currently works as a graphic designer, and brings to this project his real-world experience of running an independent/freelance design business in the UK. He has developed templates for selection interviews as well as sample documents for the business course. He will also be leading the design of the personalized report cards, and lending his expertise on creating promotional business materials.


Rehema Mussa: Rehema is a local Tanzanian young woman who was taken in by extended family at a young age, and studied through a local vocational program for orphaned youth after secondary school. She has experience as a secretary and teaching basic computer skills in the area, and knows the community and orphanage extremely well. She will be our head translator and assistant teacher as well as primary follow-up coordinator, and is also looking forward to developing her own computer training and graphic design business further.


Vaileth Pallangyo: Vaileth is a recent secondary school graduate who grew up in Nkoaranga and has attended school through The Foundation For Tomorrow, the same organization that oversees our kids’ schooling. She has recently started training as an accountant. As she wrote on The Foundation For Tomorrow’s blog, “Bookkeeping is my favorite subject in school. Some students dislike it but I find balancing books challenging… And because bookkeeping is my favorite subject, would you be surprised if I say I hope to become an accountant someday? I would run my own company after gaining enough experience working in other companies. I believe this is possible. I can make this happen.” We hope this will be a positive step on her path.