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Business skills ignite hope in young lives

By Robby Muhumuza

Prossy Namuddu, 18, had lost hope of completing secondary school due to lack of school-fees. Thanks to the Building Young Futures programme, she is back in school paying her own school fees and looking forward to a promising future.

Raised by a single mother of six children, with an absentee father, her mother has always struggled to bring her up together with her two sisters and three brothers on the little money that comes from maize, beans and sweet potatoes that she grows on borrowed land on the outskirts of Mityana Town.

It’s no wonder that she dropped out of Senior I for two years due to lack of school fees.  “ I was so frustrated after leaving school because today, you need to be educated to get serious employment. The thought of what I was missing that my friends who had the opportunity to continue with their education were getting would make me feel so bad,” Prossy said.

All this changed when Prossy joined the Building Young Futures Progamme  (BYF), funded by United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and Barclays Bank and implemented by BRAC, a non-governmental organization. She joined Katawa ELA (Empowerment and Livelihoods for Adolescents) Club funded by BYF.

Together with 26 other girls, a mentor who was trained in life skills using a Skills Training Manual developed by UNICEF, Barclays Bank and BRAC taught Prossy and her friends at Katawa Club the importance of life skills.

“ I learned the importance of not having children before I am old enough to take care of them; how to avoid being pressured into doing what I don’t want to do because my friends are doing it; how to solve problems, the dangers of drinking and taking illegal drugs; and having goals and a purpose in life,” Prossy said.

Prossy and 8,877 other young people from the districts of Mityana, Mubende, Kyenjojo, Kabarole, Kamwenge, Kasese, Masaka, Kalungu, Rakai and Lwengo  have over the last three years been taught financial literacy and small business management under the BYF Programme.

“I have learned the importance of budgeting, saving, customer care and how to organize a small business”, said Prossy. After the training, the youths were given an opportunity to write business proposals and enter into a Kick Start Grants Competition funded under the BYF programme.

“ I was so happy that my proposal with a request of Sh 700,000 to start making cakes and buns was among the winners and I received the funds and have set up a small bakery in our compound. I make a profit of around Sh 30,000 per week and with this I have been able to go back to school and pay my school fees”, Prossy said proudly.

Under this Kick Start Grants Programme 298 winning small businesses are being supported.

The businesses supported under this programme include: retail shops for selling food stuffs, clothes, shoes and household items; secretarial bureaus for typing, photocopying, binding documents; mobile money and airtime selling; farming: beans, maize, bananas, potatoes and vegetables like tomatoes, and cabbages, onions; poultry and piggery; video rentals store; bakery; restaurant; candle making, making ventilators, crafts making using bark cloths; soap making; knitting sweaters; and sewing and tailoring clothes.

Building Young Futures programme demonstrates that when young people are provided with practical skills and funds to start businesses, they can become productive members of the society that contribute to the community’s well being.

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