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.