What is it like to replicate a successful social business? Meet Matovu, We Love Reading Uganda

Matovu is the founder of We Love Reading in Uganda, a social business originally founded in Jordan that he decided to replicate in his country. Learn about the highs and lows of replicating, his advice to others, and why it’s important to remember that one size does not fit all.



What is We Love Reading?

We Love Reading is an international organization that fosters a love of reading among children 0-12 by focusing on the read-aloud experience in the native language. It changes children’s mindsets through reading and turns them into changemakers.


It is an innovative model that provides a practical, cost-efficient, sustainable, grassroots approach empowering communities through the activism of local volunteers to plant the love of reading for children to become lifelong learners.



How did you get involved in social entrepreneurship and with We Love Reading?


I was not so much into social entrepreneurship, but somehow I stumbled into it. When I stumbled into it, there were many things I could do but improving my community in reading and enhancing knowledge was something that was very important to me. For me, to help the community to improve, it had to be in education.


Then in 2012, I went to Malaysia. I was covering an event as a journalist and I had a list of people to interview. I heard about a scientist who was improving children’s reading and I decided to interview Dr. Rana, the founder of We Love Reading. Within two minutes, everything clicked: this was the answer!



What is the best part about replicating We Love Reading?


I love these aspects:


1. Adding value to my community

I feel fulfillment and happiness that I have added something to my community.


2. The simplicity of the project

I find it easy to replicate, people easily understand the project and they come when they are invited. Even now they are asking me, “When are we resuming?”.


3. The acceptance of the project within the local society

The acceptance of the project in the community and in the district leadership and country leadership is very positive.


We Love Reading Uganda read-aloud session



What is the most challenging part of replicating We Love Reading?


Buying books, even though they are relatively cheap, is the most challenging part. With the way We Love Reading is set up, in each group each child should read one book a week. In a month they should be reading four books. If you have a group of 20 learners, that means that you need to buy a lot of books.



What benefits do you see in replicating compared to starting your own project?


If the initiator (founder) is cooperative, replicating is the best because:


1. You can follow an existing framework

The frame of the project is already in place. The replicator just needs to localize a few things to fit the culture or the politics of the region. In the case of We Love Reading in Uganda very minimal adjustments were needed:

  • Where they meet mainly in mosques in Jordan, we conduct sessions under trees and at compounds of some local people.

  • Uganda's weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) differ from those of Jordan.

  • Of course, the native languages differ.


2. You can benefit from the prestige of an international brand

There is prestige in belonging to an international body. We simply become a chapter.


3. You have guidance

Constant guidance is almost guaranteed thus enabling improvement and transformation.


“Enjoy as You Read” - Book by Waalabyeki Magoba



What advice would you give to someone who would like to replicate a proven social business in their region?


I would advise them to get in touch with the initiators and tell them, “What you are doing in your community could also be an important thing in my community, and I would love to replicate what you are doing. Please advise us on how we can do it”.


Connect with the initiators, ask them for advice on how you can replicate their project in your community, and keep in contact with them.

The initiators should also be open and should advise people who want to replicate the project and share how they are doing it.


We Love Reading Uganda read-aloud session



Final thoughts?

One size does not fit all. The communities, the cultures, the societies, the leadership, the environment - they differ.

There is always a difference between geographical regions in the setup and the way that the social impact project can be started. This should be taken into consideration and dealt with accordingly.



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This blog post is part of an interview series on replicating successful social businesses. Did you enjoy this post? Discover more in our interviews with Narmin from SPEAK Kaunas and Tania from SPEAK Madrid.



👉 Want to replicate We Love Reading in your region? Or another successful social business? Check out the Snowball Effect programs here!