Seed funded by the Ruwenzori Sculpture Foundation, The Rwenzori Founders is an Art Centre/foundry run by Ugandans for African artists, located north of Kasese in the foothills of Uganda's Rwenzori Mountains. Unprecedented in this African nation, the foundry offers sculptors an opportunity to utilise a well-equipped studio to cast art works into bronze. Their architect-designed sculpture gallery is rapidly turning into a popular tourist destination exhibiting their home produced works. The Rwenzori Founders also host international workshops and exhibitions. A series of over 30 clan, animal totems are permanently on show in their gallery which has a cafe for tourists. This award winning complex sits in harmony with its recently restored natural landscaping. Gallery sales and workshops contribute to their vital restoration and re-wilding activities, but additional funding is constantly sought by their stakeholder charities.
Originally built on degraded land, they have restored several indigenous habitats across 80 acres, planting a small savannah, woodland, riverine forest, hill forest and pond. The landscaping has rapidly attracted rare endemic species - like the Rwenzori red headed blue-bill and Hinkel's red flanked burrowing skink, to name but two. Bird species counts reached 203 in 2023 from an initial 50. The Founders' longterm ambition is to help create a corridor of indigenous forest cover between the Rwenzori and Queen Elizabeth national parks, an achievable reality given their current efforts have has resulted in a huge biodiversity increase and a wealth of knowledge and experience. Regeneration of the deforested Rwenzori Mountain ranges will ultimately help safeguard against the floods, droughts and landslides common to this area and perhaps one day bring back the snows to the higher altitude peaks - so saving an essential water source.
The Rwenzori Founders cannot achieve this alone, and so creating awareness about wildlife conservation, trees, nature services, health and climate mitigation in the wider community, has been an essential undertaking by the project leaders, Emmanuel Basaza, Isaac Okwir and Winnie Taaka-Basaza.
Local people are encouraged to plant trees of their own, have had piped water provided and the Rwenzori Founders are now rebuilding their small health clinic into a new hospital which will also bring electricity. The local village community benefits from these services, from employment opportunities, sustainable nature solutions and even tourism.