According to the World Bank, Uganda has the youngest population in the world and it is growing substantially every year. It has proved difficult to harness the energy of young people, 18 per cent of whom are not in stable employment, education or training. Causes of youth unemployment are multifaceted, ranging from an inadequate supply of jobs to young people having insufficient employable skills and dramatic changes in labour force growth rates.
In order to address this, BRAC, with the support of the Cartier Charitable Foundation, is launching an initiative to transform the lives of young people in extreme poverty in Central Uganda. A two-year project from January 2016 to June 2018 will develop livelihood opportunities for 1,500 young people, improve their household incomes and build economic resilience. Participants are selected from extremely poor households through community mapping and a wealth ranking process. The entire village gets a say about who is picked and the process is supported by BRAC staff.
The young men and women are given an agri-business asset package worth up to $250 and are linked to extension support services, such as health care promoters and savings groups. To start their businesses, they undergo specific skills training on management of their selected asset, basic financial skills and life skills training. They are also given a stipend every month to meet their consumption needs and create breathing room to start their own businesses and develop their assets – it may take up to eight months to generate a consistent income from their agribusiness.
Intensive mentorship from BRAC staff and group coaching once a month supports young people to develop successful businesses. In every village, a poverty reduction committee will provide livelihood support and address challenges. The ultra-poor are often marginalised within their communities and excluded from community decision-making. By creating committees at the village level, which are comprised of participants and village leadership, the programme will create a powerful core of local decision-makers who partner to change the lives of ultra-poor young people through community inclusion.