Mission Statement:
STeP UP works with grassroots organizations to develop and facilitate projects for training and community improvement.

STeP UP works in Sao Tome and Principe with grassroots-level organizations that are legally recognized by the local authorities, promoting the principles of self-help development. Working with these local organizations, STeP UP develops written proposals which clearly address problems in the sectors of education and training in agriculture, the environment, health, and income-generation. These proposals describe the specific project and seek appropriate solutions to the identified problems, using the organizations as the implementing agency. The proposals are submitted to individuals and to local and international funding agencies for support. STeP UP's long term goal is to provide these local organizations with the institutional capacity to continue to identify problems, write proposals, and secure funding on their own.

When Sao Tome was discovered by Portugese explorers in 1470, the island was probably uninhabited. For the next five centuries, it was primarily used as a slave trading post and as an agricultural station, producing sugar cane first and later cacao for chocolate production. Portugese colonial rule was primitive at best, with the result that when Independence came in 1975, the islands had few trained people and no infrastructure outside of the plantation economy developed around single-crop agriculture. In 1975, Socialists assumed power, nationalizing all productive enterprises. The Portugese largely fled, and for 15 years the economy slowly disintegrated. In 1990, for the first time, democratic elections were held, and a new government took over. However, it still has not been able to mobilize resources to combat the chronic poverty and lack of health facilities and educational possibilities that plague the islands.

Donor aid to STeP UP is funneled largely through multi- and bi-lateral institutions such as the UN system and French Cooperation funding. There are virtually no foreign NGOs. The multi/bi-lateral aid results in projects which are focused from the to down, with little or no participation from the supposed project beneficiaries. In fact, most aid stops at the government level, and despite the fact that the country is burdened with an extremely high aid-dollar input per capita, little of the funding has an impact at the local level. While this is the case in much of Africa, the difference in Sao Tome is that the non-governmental aid sector - often the prime mover at the local level elsewhere - is weak. STeP UP's goal is to help fill the NGO "gap".

TRAINING:the primary focus of STeP UP, a major element of all sectors noted below.
HEALTH: typically relates to training in disease prevention (e.g. latrines, draining stagnant water to prevent malarial mosquitoes from breeding) and construction of health facilities.
EDUCATION: Focuses on providing teacher training and materials to primary schools, middle schools and to the sole high school in Sao Tome City. Projects may involve the rehabilitation of buildings or the construction of schools in remote communities.
AGRICULTURE: Projects in this sector provide training to farmers in techniques used in the introduction of new crops to help diversify away from the cacao monoculture. They also provide appropriate technologies for using the abundant rain-water and natural fertilizers available on the islands.
ENVIRONMENT: Projects related to the environment are often closely related to agriculture. Training in sound agricultural practices leads to a healthy environment. Reforestation, protection of local species - often endemic - and the rational use of existing resources are primary project activities.
INCOME GENERATION: Projects for training youth in practical services solve two chronic problems on the islands: unemployment and a functional service industry. These projects now focus on construction techniques, auto mechanics, jewelry making, tailoring, and upholstery.


STeP UP is an NGO with accreditation in Delaware (USA) and Sao Tome.