SNV Uganda’s Youth Employability through Enterprise and Skills Development (YES) project is gradually changing the mindset of youth in the West Nile region of Uganda.
This EU funded project provides coaching, training and mentorship to youth, most of whom are either unemployed or uneducated. By working with Business, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (BTVET) institutions, the project helps rural youth in the West Nile region to develop their vocational and technical skills and provides them with the opportunity to escape from low-skilled and low-paid work. This has been aligned with the Ministry of Education and Sports' policy, seeking to develop and improve practical training programmes and train instructors from BTVET institutions to be more labour market responsive.
Bridging the gap between institutional training and market needs
Training institutions continue to produce graduates whose skills do not match what the market needs. SNV and its partners, AFARD and CEGED, are working to bridge the gap between institutional and community-based formal and informal skills training by engaging BTVETs, public and private actors. The goal is to improve service delivery and enable a more focused and coordinated approach toward relevant skills training.
Two manuals – 'Entrepreneurship and life skills' and 'Farming as a business and good agronomic practices' – have been developed, based on the capacity gaps identified at the BTVET institutions. A total of 28 BTVET instructors and eight staff were trained using the entrepreneurship manual. The training covered basic concepts of enterprenuership, how to generate business ideas, developing a business plan, marketing, costing and pricing, record keeping, saving and life skills development. At the end of the training all participants developed a work plan for rolling out the programme in their respective institutions.
“I learnt a lot from the training. Lessons I picked from the joint supervision will help us revise our course contents and tailor them to the current needs of the job market.” – Orio Wilson, Principal Nile Institute of Management Studies, Arua District.
The BTVETs have also integrated entrepreneurship training into their school curriculum which is based primarily on the YES entrepreneurship and the life skills manual. A total of 700 youth benefited from the trainings in 2015.
The Young Model Farmer approach: changing youth's perceptions about agri-business
One of the challenges that was evident at the beginning of the project was the negative attitude most youth had towards agriculture. Many had tried and failed to yield much in agriculture due to the erratic and unreliable weather patterns. Furthermore, they had no peers that had succeeded in agriculture to mentor them. The young model farmer (YMF) approach was thus an excellent opportunity for youth to learn from their peers in the agri-business sector. SNV and its partners trained 33 YMFs as principal trainers to support the rural youth engaged in agriculture. Training covered land preparation, nursery bed preparation, planting, integrated pest and disease management and record keeping. The YMFs were each assigned 29 youth to coach and mentor while they continued to receive support from project officers. The young farmers selected different enterprises ranging from tomatoes, onions, Irish potatoes, cabbage and beans. By the end of the first year (2015), 1,000 youth farmers had taken up farming as a business and adopted good agronomic practices due to the peer-to-peer learning and support from their YMFs.
Young horticulture entrepreneur sets an example for his peers
Amandeku Sam is a YMF who lives in Paleure-Pamuru village in Moyo District. He was selected as a YMF by peers who are involved in cabbage production under the YES project. One of the key roles of a YMF is to help young farmers learn through hands-on experience rather than theory, the best agricultural practices for good yields and high profit. “As a YMF, I underwent training in Arua and learnt how to better manage my horticulture business and build relationships with other community members and gained many other valuable skills. Various good farming practices, such as how to make and apply manure, proper nursery bed management practices, timely land opening and proper planting techniques were explained to me in a way that made me rethink how I worked. We chose to focus on growing cabbage and received high-quality cabbage seeds. For the first time, I was able to grow 1.5 acres of cabbage in one season. I also invested 288,000 UGX (80 Euros) so I could hire labour and market my product. My investment and hard work yielded 31.5 bags of cabbage that sold for 2,029,500 UGX (563 Euros).
Sam bought two cows worth 1.1 million UGX (305 Euros), and two goats worth 120,000 UGX (33 Euros). He reinvested 300,000 UGX (83 Euros) to grow two acres of cabbage and about 70,000 UGX (20 Euros) to buy materials for constructing a chicken house. He contributed a share of his earnings to the local savings and credit cooperative organisation and with a total of 200,000 UGX (55 Euros) they managed to purchase a pick-up truck which he hopes to own one day.
“Seven of my peers involved in cabbage-growing earned a net income of 500,000 UGX (139 Euros), each in the first season of planting. By sharing our story, I hope that many youth will gain the courage to focus on farming as business. I would like to thank the YES project for empowering me to achieve my goals as a farmer and a businessman,” Sam added.