Two new directors join the team
This Is EPIC’s team has been strengthened by the addition of two directors, Mel Torode and Warren Mauger. Their involvement will enable the charity to build on the successful work it has already carried out in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This Is EPIC’s implementation of Village Savings and Loans (VSL) schemes empowers individuals to come together to access informal financial services, which has a positive and sustainable impact upon the fight against extreme poverty.
The charity was founded six years ago by Philip and Louise Smith and Martyn Langlois. Martyn has played a key role in a number of community projects in Africa, including Compassion UK, and set up the Gill Langlois Legacy Fund in memory of his late wife, to build classrooms in Compassion projects. Louise said: ‘Martyn has played such a key part in helping us to get This Is EPIC off the ground, and his support and enthusiasm for the projects has been fundamental in promoting the work. We are very grateful for Martyn’s involvement and pleased that he will remain as key adviser to the This Is EPIC team.’
This Is EPIC has built a vision for what it aims to achieve over the next three to five years. The team is keen to maintain the 400 VSL groups that are currently up and running in Uganda and the DRC, and also wants to increase the scale of their projects and the number of new groups. In addition, the four directors are exploring how they can add new services to their projects, including training in financial literacy, agriculture & farming and business management & entrepreneurship. Mel and Warren’s energy and skills will be key to the charity’s success.
Mel Torode has more than 20 years’ experience in financial services. She is the Managing Director of a fund administration and fiduciary business in Guernsey as well as an experienced Non-Executive Director with a varied portfolio. It is increasingly important that charities operate robust and transparent financial processes, to be able to show supporters how funds are spent. To this end, Mel will help with the governance and monitoring of This Is EPIC projects. Mel said: ‘I have been searching for an opportunity to apply the skills I have learnt during my career to a local charity and This Is EPIC really resonated with me. The principle of providing those most in need with the opportunity to help themselves and their families, utilising their own business ideas, means that the help provided has a long-term impact in these communities.’
Warren Mauger has been a key fundraiser for This Is EPIC since 2014 and has been heavily involved in supporting the charity’s communications. As a communications professional he can help to get the charity’s message out and engage with the community. As a businessman, he also understands how to run an organisation and can help This Is EPIC punch above its weight. Warren said: ‘I have seen first hand the impact This is EPIC is making where it operates, it is literally changing the lives of some of the poorest people in the world, providing simple financial support and helping them save and borrow to create their own small businesses and work their way out of poverty. These are hard-working people who just need to be shown how to manage their money within a proven structure. This is not a hand out, it is a hand up.’
Africa has not remained untouched by the Covid-19 pandemic, and poor communities affected by the virus are particularly vulnerable. This Is EPIC’s team are ensuring that its training partners in Africa adhere to local government advice; in Uganda it is compulsory to wear a face mask in public, and the teams in the DRC are struggling to get hold of hand sanitiser and soap.
Philip concluded: ‘We are really excited about bringing Mel and Warren into the charity as we look to build on the projects and work delivered over the past six years. Their skills and experience are going to be critical as we embark on the next stage of our vision, continue to mature as a charity and impact as many people as possible with our ethos of a help up, not a hand out.’