13 November 2006
David Stairs
David Stairs

David Stairs (left) with Mr. James Lutwama on the latter's
farm near Bombo, Uganda, June 2001

Designers Without Borders was founded in Kampala, Uganda, in December 2000. Originally conceived as a 'real world' learning experience for the graphic design students at Makerere University, DWB quickly grew into a design advocacy for under-resourced schools and non-profit organisations. While university and secondary school students benefited from the new technology and curricular enhancements DWB provided, community organisations, like the National Committee of Women Living With Aids (NACWOLA), used DWB's services to develop a brochure and website for expanded social outreach. In 2004, DWB's American students at Central Michigan University completed the first web presence for The Need Foundation, a non-profit organisation serving handicapped Ugandans.

Incorporated as a tax-exempt non-profit organisation in 2002, Designers Without Borders continues to evolve. In 2003, DWB joined a distinguished group of three dozen worldwide recipients of a Sappi Fine Papers 'Ideas That Matter' grant. Through lecturing and grant writing DWB continues to raise funds to underwrite its 2006 return to Africa, where it will be working with an expanded list of client organisations throughout Uganda including schools, non-profit organisations, and community foundations.

Designers Without Borders serves as a reference point for designers who have an interest in non-corporate design. DWB's articles and web logs expand and inform contemporary debate in design circles. Feature articles in HOW Design and Design Issues, as well as web-based essays on,, and the AIGA's online Design Forum have added to the ongoing worldwide discussion about the importance to design of social justice and accountability. DWB is planning an exhibition at Parsons School of Design in New York, sometime in 2005. A book about Ugandan vernacular design is also under development.

Designers Without Borders is dedicated to improving the state of the developing world through increased access to communication design, technology and education. Future endeavors include the establishment of a website devoted to socially active designers, the development of an endowed scholarship for African design students who wish to study off-continent, and the creation of a distance mentoring program for worldwide participating professionals who would like to assist African design students. It is always the intention of DWB to respect and protect indigenous forms of design archetype.

In celebration of Architecture for Humanity's 'Siyathemba' project
to develop a soccer playing field in Somkhele KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, DWB is sponsoring a call for entries to design a poster for Somkhele's first ever girls soccer team.

About Designers Without Borders

Designers Without Borders is a membership organisation accepting tax-deductible donations that can be designated for application to any of its specific initiatives. All enquiries please contact:

About David Stairs
David Stairs is a designer and educator who believes that commerce is only one aspect of design. In 2000, Mr. Stairs founded Designers Without Borders, the world's first non-profit organisation exclusively devoted to assisting developing nations through communication design. His latest essay, 'Altruism as Design Methodology,' is scheduled for fall publication in Design Issues. Mr. Stairs teaches at Central Michigan University.