We like to do things differently…

The Nerve Model was built drawing on Founder Esther Kwaku's vast experience and knowledge of existing NGO frameworks and working relationships with local organisations.

Using her insight and understanding, we work to build an unconventional  development model to help elevate brilliant people so that powerful change can take place.


Building on solid frameworks

The Nerve Network works in tandem with several committed partner organisations based within Uganda.

We choose these partners based on on history and trust; working only with those we have solid, reliable connections and who believe in Nerve’s mission.

Using the example of our partner organisation MADIPHA, Esther worked with them during her time as a fundraiser at a UK disability charity in 2014. She witnessed how they worked, who they worked with and got to know how they selected beneficiaries for their local programmes. She was also able to witness first-hand the strength, commitment, tenacity and dedication of the organisation's leaders.

Our partner organisations also have well developed, robust teams, clear strategic plans, a board of trustees and elected councillors. Moreover, they have already gone through the rigorous protocols of an established charity that is well respected in the sector. They’ve been screened by the likes of DFID (UK), USAID, key international actors, experts, consultants and indeed, local governments of Uganda (e.g. the ministries of education, health and the like).


The beneficiaries we work with are all selected in collaboration with our local partners. We receive updates on which micro businesses are ripe for help as per the following Nerve criteria:



Do they have natural business acumen, an innovation or an original/great idea?


Does their business have the potential to grow, not only benefitting their family but their wider community?


Are they committed to training more people in their community – be it through skills development, business building or mentoring and support?


Will the business sustain itself long after Nerve has gone?

*  NERVE. 

Last but not least. The definition of Nerve is one’s steadiness in a demanding situation.  Nerve believes in picking out very specific people who have the fearlessness, courage and audacity to do more and be more, with the idea that despite everything seemingly going against them they will go on to inspire others.



Our local partners will present to us individuals and microbusinesses they believe need support. The key assets we provide are time, money and skills.

We discuss, consult and then we narrow that list down. Since we’re a start-up we have to be super-efficient in who we support and how. Working with 20 people who have some Nerve is cool, but we would rather focus and invest in the 5 people who have a lot of Nerve, who are raring to go and who we know will commit to sharing what they’ve learned with 10 or so others, creating a little ecosystem of change. 

We support our local partners to undertake visits, coaching and mentoring to these micro businesses. They have a team which comprises experts on agriculture, finance, business, women and girl’s needs, disability and living with HIV and AIDS.

The current model we are applying allows our partners a little more freedom and flexibility to explore dynamic, creative and innovative solutions that suits their local context and environment much better.

For the people we select, the vast majority of them live with some kind of disability because they are at the bottom of the pile in many ways, but at the same time, they are incredibly resourceful and creative because they have to find ways to survive. They have to find ways to earn money that aren’t available to them because those opportunities aren’t accessible.

However, we don’t focus on a beneficiary’s disability, but rather their ABILITY. We chose to work with people who have what it takes to become superchargers in their community, and together, we determine how to move them towards where they want to be.

We couldn’t do any of this without our partners.