According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate among the youth in Uganda is at 13.3%. This proves that it is a weighty predicament that needs our immediate attention and calls for innovative solutions. Uganda is filled with a growing young population that has great solutions and ideas that can create tremendous change for our economy but the challenges they face on a daily basis such as inadequate skills and training, inadequate resources, inability to access markets, impede their ability to create and invent. To make it worse, the ongoing pandemic, Covid-19, affected most enterprises leading to loss of job opportunities.
It takes two flints to make a fire. Therefore to stem the youth unemployment issue, The Innovation Village partnered with the Unemployment Ends With Me Youth Initiative (UEYI), an initiative and campaign founded by Sandra Twinoburyo, that was launched to bridge the unemployment gap by creating awareness, skilling, re-skilling and up-skilling youth entrepreneurs. To awaken and encourage entrepreneurial spirits among the youth, the initiative started with a pitch day of five teams that presented their innovative solutions for a prize. Among the teams, Honey Girl presented a solution that provides local farmers with market for their manufactured honey by packaging it and selling it to customers. This team has managed to sell over 160 kilograms in one month of setting up their business. BantuHits has created a local platform for local artists and deejays to earn from their craft by making money per music downloaded. Slay farmer is redefining the way young women look at agriculture by empowering and skilling young female graduates to take up the venture and earn a living. Bava TopNotch Cleaners is addressing environmental issues by providing general cleaning services. The business targets people with special occasions and people moving into newly constructed homes. Rap software solutions provides professional short course programs and practical employable skills to the youth mainly women at a discount. This has proved that the Covid-19 confinement has not hindered the youths imagination.
Speaking at the campaign’s award ceremony and launch Sandra Twinoburyo said, “I came up with the initiative because I wanted to bring forth stories of people that are already doing something, I just wanted to share their stories so that the other youth could be inspired.”
Covid-19 has disrupted our normal lives and young people are more vulnerable to declining labor demand. Some were optimistic about employment which may be a challenge right now with companies downsizing. However, instead of giving up, youth have shown their resilience and turned this crisis into business opportunities by creating brilliant initiatives. Most of them have reacted to the virus by innovating for social impact and these solutions have revamped and restructured the various sectors. The youth have varying aspirations that are shaped by their experiences and they are part of the solution but all they need is a change in mindset and strategies that can build their capacities, help them innovate, and bring solutions to the world in which they wish to live by resolving their entrepreneurial obstacles.
“I commend young people for thinking differently and out of the box. The youth should be prioritised because they represent big opportunities for Africa and as the French Embassy we are looking forward to that.” His Excellency, The Ambassador of France to Uganda, Jules-Armand Aniambossou.
The future may seem blurry for some especially now during a pandemic. Collaboration through partnerships is vital in putting resources together to support the youth and indeed at The Innovation Village one of our core values ‘co-creation’ plays a major role in stimulating solutions to challenges in our community.
“We believe in fulfilling youth dreams, we believe in youth aspirations and our vision is to employ and engage over 100,000 and more young people by the end of the year. Our ecosystem wants to incorporate both formal and informal careers therefore as we look forward to engaging more young minds, this campaign can help us fulfill that.” Sheila Agaba, The Innovation Village community lead.
The ‘Unemployment Ends With Me’ campaign was sealed with a launch awards ceremony that saw Honey Girl emerge as the overall winner.