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Uganda's future lies in entrepreneurship
64% of all young people are unemployed in Uganda. Together with its local partners, Trias Uganda helps young people to stand on their own two feet.
Uganda’s population is growing rapidly at 3% per year and this means more than 75% of Ugandans are under 30. Access to primary and secondary education is high and growing which increases the pressure on the formal job market.
Over 400,000 young people complete university education annually and yet a mere 30,000 of them can be absorbed into the labour market. And 50% do not engage in any income-generating activities at all, according to data from the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.
The unemployment rate among young people is high not only due to a limited supply of jobs, but also because of other obstacles including inadequate investment and low levels of employability. Young people’s competencies are simply not commensurate with the needs of job markets. When the high poverty level is taken into account, it is clear that Uganda risks knowingly excluding its young people from future progress.
This situation is alarming and it represents one of the biggest development challenges the country must face. While the few jobs available are predominantly in informal sectors in the countryside, young people tend to prefer formal, salaried positions. This has led to large-scale movement from rural to urban and peri-urban areas in search of employment. In turn, this escalates the problem when they cannot find jobs, even in the urban areas.
Programmes for youth
‘As country director of Trias Uganda, I need to realign our programmes to address this challenge by reaching out to more youth so that their needs can take centre stage,’ said Januario Ntungwa. ‘We implement programmes that improve the livelihoods of the poor.
Young people dominate the poor demographic, so their inclusion will contribute to addressing this issue. I also ensure that the farmer organisations we partner with create opportunities for youth engagement in agriculture. Our support for entrepreneurs’ organisations focuses on skill development and entrepreneurship, which provide young people with opportunities for self-employment in off-farm activities.’
Trias’ projects really make a difference states Ntungwa. ‘Our projects promote on youth inclusion by creating space for them to participate in the decision-making of the organisation, or in the design and implementation of services that meet their needs. Our microfinance partners have developed products targeted at young people that provide access to funds for self-employed youth. And entrepreneurs’ organisations have run basic skill-based training sessions aimed specifically at youth.'
These sessions equipped participants with the skills required to start up their own business activities or to find employment on projects that need specific practical skills. 'We have trained over 500 young people in entrepreneurial skills to enable them to translate their ideas into products fit for the market place’, says the country director of Trias Uganda.
Ntungwa believes that entrepreneurship is the future. ‘The days of formal jobs are gone and the job market is looking for people who can take business ideas and make them grow. I know that, in Uganda, even those with a formal job try to supplement it with their own business. Unfortunately they do not manage the project well, due to limited skills. As a development organisation supporting skill-building and the promotion of entrepreneurship in Uganda, Trias undeniably provides vital support for entrepreneurship. This is the future for Uganda.'