Last Updated on: 28th June 2023, 11:18 am
Lira, June 28, 2023: The European Union (EU) in partnership with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and Caritas Switzerland, has launched a three-year €1m project in Lira city.
The Empowering Youth Organizations in Uganda (Empower You) was launched on Tuesday, June 27, 2023, by Samuele Otim Rizz, Country Director of Caritas Switzerland. Empower You will be implemented in Lira and Gulu cities (Acholi and Lango sub-regions).
According to Caritas Switzerland’s recent research, Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the World and its working-age population is projected to double by 2040. The country’s total population is estimated to be around 45 million comprising a high and increasing cohort of young people.
Close to 80 per cent of the population is below 30 years. The same research also showed that over a million young people are entering the job market in Uganda each year but there are not enough decent jobs available, which has already led to high unemployment and, in particular, underemployment of youths.
Samuele Otim Rizzo said the project is being launched in urban areas to help them get the target number of unemployed youths.
“Our main aim is to boost the existing businesses of the youths and also empower them within the business realities to see them strive in whatever they do for society,” said Samuele.
Rizzo further said the project aims at pushing youths to the “next level” by removing aspects that trigger stagnation in business there by taking their businesses to the next level.
This, he reiterates, will help take the business to the next level and enable inclusive and sustainability of businesses of all categories in society including the youths, women and persons with disabilities of age 18-30 years.
“We cannot run the project without you the youths, because otherwise the project will collapse at the start. The sustainability comes from each one of us,” he added.
In an exclusive interview with TNDNews, the Empower You Project Manager, Nadia Ayaa said Empower You aims at contributing to a bigger goal of employment and ending unemployment within Lira City and the country at large through its three core objectives of supporting the existing micro and small enterprises, promotion of youth participation in policy, decision-making and development processes at national and local levels for increased social and economic inclusion and support of national civil society organizations to increase their capacity for equitable, inclusive and sustained youth development.
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“We choose the city because many youths are attracted to the lifestyle of the city that also wants to make quick money and have a simple life and that’s why we plan to operate in the city to boost their existing businesses,” said added.
Ayaa continued that the three-year project aims to target up to 2,093 direct beneficiaries, with a key focus on youth (18-30), women and persons with disabilities, including 750 business enterprises from Lira and Gulu cities.
According to Ayaa, the project has two main components: entrepreneurship aimed to create active entrepreneurs through training in business development marketing, strategic planning and access to loans through grants and banks.
The component of policy and advocacy will be putting much emphasis on creating a conducive environment for business survival through engaging the leadership and city bearers to provide better means of removing barriers to business growth to later enhance business sustainability.
Gulu Women’s Economic Development and Globalization (GWED-G) program coordinator, Immaculate Alanyo said GWED-G will partner with Caritas in implementing the policy and advocacy policy component of the project through the youth leaders, youth chairpersons and councillors at both the city and division levels to influence favourable youth businesses and working environment.
“As GWED-G, we shall build the capacity of youths on advocacy, self skills, communication skills, personal skills among others and as well engage the leadership of the city to ensure favourable policies for business growth in Lira city,” Alanyo added.
Lira city council clerk, Theophilus Tibihika said that once the youths are empowered, a lot can be achieved from them thus bringing about development in the country.
Meanwhile, James Omara Elem, the secretary of finance and works, Lira City called upon the civil society organizations within Lira City to take the lead in instilling leadership skills among the youths, especially in aspects of policy making.
Elem equally called upon the youths to utilize funds under the Parish Development Model to help in eradicating poverty.
The Empower You project will be implemented over three years. It started in February 2023 and will end in January 2026.