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Youth Savings Group in Uganda

 A VSLA meeting taking place in Uganda
A VSLA meeting taking place in Uganda

With funding and technical support from SIDA, Plan International Sweden and Accenture Development Partnership (ADP), Plan International Uganda is implementing A Working Future – Uganda (AWF), a three and a half year project intended to support employment and improve the economic empowerment of youth, with the targeted age group being 12,000 15 to 25 year-old young people.  Savings Groups are used as an entry point to communities, a mechanism for organising youth and a platform for financial education and capital build-up.

To help youth move into the local economy, AWF provides practical entrepreneurship training and post-training mentoring.  The greatest impact has been on individual income generating activities where youth have undertaken a new activity or diversified or somehow improved existing activities.  An informal inventory of activities revealed a good variety of businesses in small trade, buying and selling agricultural produce, food processing and some animal-raising.  Many of these are the result of market research rather than youth just copying activities already existing in their communities. 

A lot of these businesses can be started on a modest scale with small amounts of capital that youth can access from their Savings Groups.  Most members seem to have a plan for scaling up and show great discipline in reinvesting profits to build a larger capital base.  One field assessment showed that many had doubled or multiplied their individual investment several times in a two to four month period.

Forging relations with private sector businesses to help youth take advantage of markets outside their communities is another feature of AWF.  A micro franchise relationship has grown between a large manufacturer of household products and Savings Groups members who serve as sales agents in their communities.  Other marketing and technical links exist with a large commercial producer of poultry and pigs and a distributor of solar lighting products.