Left: Busy youth at one of the projects in Nsambya.
Uganda has the world’s youngest population with over 78% of its population below the age of 30. With just under eight million youth aged 15-30, the country also has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Such a high and unemployed youth population presents challenges for the country, as they are susceptible to many ideas and habits. Many a time, these youths end up in rehabilitation centers or prisons because of drug related problems and related crimes such as burglary and murder.
Experts say it is important for the government to come up with projects that can sustainably occupy these youth and divert them from harmful behaviors and individuals.
One such project is the Presidential Jua Kali Youth Initiative that has brought hundreds of youth together for the sole purpose of modernising the Jua Kali industry and giving the Ugandans involved in artisan trade.
A recent visit to the Nsambya Carpentry Joinery and Crafts Training Agency (NSACARJA) located in Nsambya revealed that some youth have taken heed to the government’s call and have started to focus on income generating projects such as furniture.
The agency was established in 2016 when President Museveni handed carpenters working at Nsambya Shs100 million cash and other support to ease their work and train youth from all over Nsambya in carpentry.
Machinery such as surfacer, skindle molder, thick naser, turning machine, circular saw, sanding belt, mortis machine and others were handed over to Moses Muleke – the chairperson of their association.
With the Shs100 million, the carpenters formed a SACCO through which they could borrow money to finance their big furniture orders.
Today, the SAACO has over 350 members and the association has attracted over 2000 youth who have the ability to take on larger jobs as they can afford the necessary raw materials.
Additionally, hundreds of the youth have been trained in woodwork, weaving, sawing, tailoring and the quality of furniture that they are producing has greatly improved.
According to Muleke, the future is very bright for these youth.
“Many of these boys came here with nothing and now they are all dressed up at the roadside selling beautiful beds they made,” Muleke said.
He added: “In future, we envisage a Furniture Village to where we will relocate. It will become our permanent home and Ugandans from across the country will come to buy all sorts of furniture.”
The benefits at Nsambya stretch far beyond the furniture sales. Within the agency, many women have found jobs as tailors sewing clothes for the sofas and others have started food businesses.
With the government’s strategic policy expanding from just education to include skills development for income generation and employability, the Presidential Jua Kali Initiative is already providing a springboard for many unemployed youth to gain the skills necessary for them to generate income and self –sustenance.
Left: MIMIDECOT's Head office located in Nyendo-Masaka
Masaka Microfinance and Development Cooperative Trust Limited (MAMIDECOT) is a financial institution operating in southwestern Uganda aiming to provide a mechanism through which its members could save and borrow at low interest rates to meet their socio-economic needs. It provides services to the following districts that comprise the “greater Masaka” sub-region: Masaka, Rakai, Bukomansimbi, Kalungu, Lwengo, Sembabule, Kalangala and Lyantonde.
The institution was established in 1999 after a total collapse of the social service delivery system in Uganda, brought about by many years of political turmoil and terror. It began as a financial cooperative organization to voluntarily unite people in order to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs. MAMIDECOT is able to meet these needs through the promotion of saving, extension of credit facilities, and provision of business and agricultural advisory services to its members.
Membership is open to the entire population of the “greater Masaka” sub-region and adjoining districts. At its inception, MAMIDECOT began with 34 members with a net equity of UGX 6.4 million and two employees. The institution has grown steadily to 24,104 members. Deposits have grown to UGX 4,866,068,306 while the loan portfolio has grown to UGX 8,622,455,000. The share capital holding stands at UGX 3,167,755,000.
SOME OF MAMIDECOT PROJECTS
Students Saving scheme in Schools
The goal of the scheme is to educate students about the benefits of saving and to provide them with the opportunity to experience the benefits of saving firsthand. It aims to provide youth with the opportunity to develop good saving habits through practice. The goal will continue to be accomplished through the implementation of three major objectives:
1. To introduce the benefits of saving to students through the distribution of informational materials, savings tools, talks, and radio programs by MAMIDECOT Bank Officers;
2. To mobilize school staff to regularly review key saving concepts with students and to encourage them to be active savers; and
3. To provide students with the opportunity to save with MAMIDECOT using a secure, accessible deposit and withdrawal system based at their schools.
Students are encouraged to become active savers by providing them with a secure, accessible deposit and withdrawal system (saving boxes, deposit and withdrawal ledgers) based at their schools. Ultimately, this allows the students to practice saving effectively. The most effective student saver from each school each term receives a valuable prize, which represents the benefits an individual can enjoy later in life when they learn to save effectively today. Currently, the Youth Saving Program runs in three secondary schools since its inception as a pilot program in 2008.
One of the reasons SACCOs fail is failure to adhere to the rules and regulations that bind them together.
PIC: Ssendegeya addressing the members of Nansana Real Estate Dealers during the AGM.
NANSANA - "In order for a savings and cooperative society to succeed, members must adhere to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) that they created to bind them together."
This message was passed on by Henry Ssendegeya, the Wakiso District Commercial Officer, to members of Nansana Real Estate Dealers, a society that brings together businessmen engaged in real estate and agriculture, around Nansana and beyond.
“One of the reasons saccos fail is failure to adhere to the rules and regulations that bind them together,” he told the over 40 members, who gathered recently, to hold their first Annual General meeting.
The meeting was held at Kabulengwa, Nansana Municipality, Wakiso district. The group has over 50 registered members.
During the AGM, the district commercial officer asked members to take decisions as a team rather than individuals.
“Individualism, under an organisation is what kills most of these societies,” he said.
He pointed out that even as they elect their new leaders, they should be as transparent as possible.
Ssendegeya also emphasized that societies and cooperatives are also broken by poor choice of leaders.
“Elect only those people who you are sure will fulfil their promises,” he said.
The group is now fully registered with the Ministry of Cooperatives. It is also open to people from anywhere, as long as they carry similar aspirations of development.
According to the Chairman, Edwin Atukunda Bekunda, to become a member of the group, one pays an entry fee of sh20,000 and a share-holding of sh100,000. So far, the group has over 50 active members.