The Rotaract clubs of Nkumba stewards, Kasese, Nansana, Rubaga, and Bwebajja came together in the spirit of brotherhood to deliver on youth community economic empowerment. Aware that schools and other institutions of learning were closed rendering the students and many other youths idle and hopeless amidst the global pandemic that continues to make it hard for people to sustain their livelihoods.
The Rotaractors boldly came up with durable solutions to fill the gap here by starting up a program for the unemployed and dropout youths in the communities of Kajjansi to Nkumba.
Targetting youths aged 18-24 the project is dubbed Mentor me series ‘A Lockdown program for the youths’ and focuses on Rotary’s theme of community empowerment and development. We have identified groups of 20 youths from five communities in and around Wakiso and Entebbe municipality to empower, train, and avail them with startup capital to enable them to establish their own businesses and cover the growing plague of youth unemployment that keeps curtailing economic growth the potential of the youths in Uganda with an estimated 60% of youths reeling from joblessness amidst the global Covid-19 crisis according to UNICEF.
This program was aimed at empowering the youths with entrepreneur and business skills too, first of all, keep them busy and also enable them to sustain their own livelihoods. Equipping the selected youths with practical knowledge in startups through community strength-based approaches for capacity building, social networking, and career development were at the center of this initiative. The youths were also involved in the hands-on training of different business ideas like baking, tailoring, and sewing as well as fruit juice processing. This was intended to spark their business acumen and challenge them to come up with businesses of their own in their groups.
After the training, the selected youths formed their own community-based organizations with all the necessary paperwork and have since been duly registered as independent businesses. The purpose of registration was to ensure proper organization and smooth leadership structures within these organizations and avoid all cases of informality associated with non-registered business organizations like poor accountability and many others.
This was all possible at a one-week workshop at Banana village eco-resort on Garuga road where the selected youths from the surrounding communities were drilled in different skills ranging from team building, communication skills, starting a business from scratch, business proposal writing, accountability among others.
All these were executed in line with the standard operating procedures set by the government intended to curb the spread of Covid-19. The youths were trained and armed to the teeth with skills to prepare them mentally and psychologically to manage startups.
The one-week mentorship was concluded at a scientific even graced by Paul Owor, an influential real estate business leader and also a former Member of Parliament aspirant for Busiro South constituency who gave a motivational talk to the youths and encouraged them to live to learn in these hard times by taking advantage of such programs that are intended for their economic transformation.
The project is an ongoing activity and will be taken to other areas where the implementing clubs are located so benefit all the youths in these communities. The first cohort officially kicked off on 9th August with 20 vibrant youths aged 18-24 from the villages of Nkumba, Nalugala, Garuga, and Kitala.
We had the opportunity to closely interact with these young people and give them a sense of belonging as we strive to serve to change lives as our creed this rotary year. We hope to have the other cohorts mentored too with business acumen skills in the coming months.
Written by Joseph B. Ssengooba, Change Maker President, Rotaract Club of Bwebajja