Trias inspires Flanders to support entrepreneurial Ugandan young people

50 businessmen and women attended an evening of debate organized by Trias and Syntra West in Bruges. The partners work together to make jobs available to Ugandan young people.

At first glance, Uganda is a country on the rise: its economy is growing and the country itself is politically stable. The biggest challenge for this east African country lies in its birth rates, which have remained high despite the rise in prosperity. These rates risk jeopardising the country’s future as the labour market is unable to absorb the influx of young people.

To mitigate the demographic problems in Uganda, Trias and their local partners encourage independent entrepreneurship. To this end, four representatives from Ugandan entrepreneurs’ associations followed a training course in professional education at Syntra West. In the first phase the Ugandan trainees learnt how to recruit competent business teachers and in the autumn, a delegation from Syntra West will travel to Uganda to train the newly hired teachers.

Opportunities for new entrepreneurs

“In Uganda, when you leave school, you are not yet ready to start a business,” says Januario Ntungwa, the new country director for Trias Uganda. “Development comes from within: we have to improve the skills of our entrepreneurs in order to offer them opportunities for success.”

Unemployment in Uganda is inexplicable.
Mirjam Blaak Sow, Ugandan ambassador to Belgium

At Syntra West, all coworkers are eager to pull their weight. “The project presented by Trias fits perfectly with our own activities. In Flanders we seek out experienced teachers from the world of entrepreneurship. They are ideally placed to pass on their expertise to young starters,” said Shari Ghyselen, project coordinator at Syntra West.

Joining forces

“The unemployment rate in Uganda is dramatic,” acknowledged ambassador Mirjam Blaak Sow. “In fact it is inexplicable. Just recently I've travelled all over the country and everywhere I've seen land lying fallow. We have to make the countryside more attractive, because today young people are all fleeing to the city to find work. Moreover, we also have to give our young people a better education. That's why the work done by Trias and Syntra West is so valuable.”

Syntra West's educational programme is sponsored by the Belgian province of West Flanders. “By launching such a project together with different partners, we abandon the traditional paths generally followed by development work. But that is very inspiring,” said Jan Dessein, coordinator at the Wereldhuis in West Flanders.

Corporate social responsibility

At the end of the evening debate, entrepreneur Erwin Van Der Kelen made a warm appeal to entrepreneurs in West Flanders. “I approach SMEs and other companies in order to create a support network of entrepreneurial people in West Flanders. Companies can also let their colleagues, clients and suppliers know about their commitment to support Ugandan entrepreneurs.”