Gift Winnie a mother of two boys, resigned her nursing job that was paying her 150,000 UGX per month in 2016. With training from the YES project for a craft making business, she now earns over 1.5M UGX a month. ‘The YES project has changed my life. It has exposed me to more opportunities and I have promised myself that I will not be a poor youth again,’ Winnie solemnly adds.
Gift Winnie is one of the 5,717 young people who gained meaningful employment through the Youth Employability through Skills Enterprise Development (YES) project, funded by the EU, that ended in September 2017.
Uganda currently has one of the youngest populations in the world with more than 78% of its 35 million people below the age of 30, of those 11% are unemployed and 26% are largely underemployed. Youth unemployment has been attributed to the narrow size of the formal employment sector and the limited engagement of youth in the agricultural sector that employs more than 85% of the rural population.
In September 2014, SNV in partnership with the Centre for Governance and Economic Development (CEGED) and the Agency for Accelerated Development (AFARD) launched the three year project - Youth Employability through Enterprise and Skills Development (YES) in Uganda in the Nebbi, Arua, Yumbe and Moyo districts in the West Nile region. The overall objective of the EU funded project was to contribute to poverty reduction by sustainably improving access to employment and business opportunities for 5,000 rural and urban, in- and out-of-school youth from the ages of 15-30.
By the end of the project, the project had surpassed its initial targets. Overall the project achieved
- Meaningful employment for 5,717 young people gained;
- Linkages to financial services for 1,575 young people;
- training for 436 young people.
Overall, the EU funded YES project for youth employment in Uganda has contributed to a 39% reduction in the number of young people living in extreme poverty in the West Nile region.
Among the key activities that the project implemented to achieve its overall goal were:
- Provision of transferable, technical and vocational, agribusiness, business and life skills development and training to participating young people;
- Enterprise development and linking youth to relevant market opportunities through apprenticeships (match-making) and internships, provision of on-going coaching and mentoring including financial and market linkages;
- Provision of start-up support (start-up kits, small grants, financial service linkages, youth business competitions) including business coaching and savings promotion;
In addition to delivering its’ core function of youth skilling, the project worked at creating a supportive enabling environment critical to sustainably improve youth employment opportunities in the region. This included building the capacity of the Business, Technical, Vocational, Technical Education and Training (BTVETs) institutes to deliver appropriate youth skilling services, engagement of the private sector in promoting youth-market linkages, and establishment of youth and pro-youth platforms to discuss policy and practice around youth employment and advocate for the replication of best practices.