Yumbe District is one of Uganda’s most northern districts.
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Until 2013, the youth would engage in unproductive activities such as gambling and playing cards to earn a living.
“It’s was a tough moment for some of us,” said Simon Okot, a 25-year-old who spoke to ChimpReports on Tuesday.
“We were in a state of hopeless and desperate,” he added.
Okot knew all the football players of his favourite English Premier League team; the latest transfers and salaries of most coaches.
A father of one, Okot lacked the wherewithal to sustain his young family due to joblessness and lack of capital.
But the introduction of Youth Livelihood Programme by the Ministry of Gender under the stewardship of Permanent Secretary Pius Bigirimana changed the mindset and empowered Okot and his youthful friends to positively change their livelihoods.
When word went around that YLP had funds for the youth empowerment, the young men and women of Yumbe formed Chinia Youth Metal World technology.
The Ministry wired Shs 8,265,000 on their account after their proposal was approved by authorities.
Members of this group have found employment opportunities by dedicating themselves to working full time in this project.
At least 70 percent of signposts, T-shirts and banners ordered by organizations in Yumbe are being made by Chinia Youth Metal World.
The Focal Point Person Yumbe, Mr Andemani says the group is thriving “because of the conducive business environment,” adding, “we are already paying back money lent to the business start-up by the Youth Livelihood Programme.”
So far the group has paid 18 percent of the total sum advanced to them but are optimistic that they will soon complete payment on the facility.
The Youth Livelihood Programme is a Government of Uganda Rolling Programme, targeting the unemployed and poor youth (Persons aged 18-30 years).
The Programme covers all the present 116 districts and 41 municipalities (including Kampala City) in the country. The programme is financed from Government’s own resources.
It has an initial budget of Shs 265b for 5 years.
YLP Implementation arrangements Implementation of YLP was preceded with widespread consultations of the youth and several other stakeholders in the country through their leadership.
According to officials from the Ministry of Gender, field evidence from across the country indicates that majority of the groups that got funding have put the money into good use and have as a result acquired new skills and are engaged in various income generating activities.
The skills provided through the basic training in financial management, entrepreneurship, business development, group dynamics and life skills, further strengthen the empowerment of the youth involved in the Programme.
The field evidence also shows that some groups need strict supervision to avoid mismanagement of funds.
Mirambi Youth Passion Fruit growing project is one of the 70 projects funded under YLP in Ibanda district. The project has 11 members and received Shs 6,322,000.
Founded in 2016, the project established a 1-acre passion fruit plantation.
The journey had a rough start for the project as it was hit by drought.
As a group, members mobilized some resources to start an irrigation scheme for the farm and project got back on course.
The group started harvesting in December 2016 and on average they harvest two sacks of passion fruits per week, and sell.
Each sells Shs 350,000, earning the group Shs 700,000 per week.
So far the group has repaid Shs 1,100,000 within a period of 2 months from the time they started harvesting.
According to the group chairperson, the beauty about passion fruits is that they have maturity period of 8 months to start harvesting.
“Each plant will give you 20 fruits per week and you will harvest steadily for six months. After that, they take another three months break to wait for another season. The group plans to start production of juice for both the local and foreign markets.
Another success story is of a group of young men who ventured into motorcycle business.
The Ajujinga Youth Motorcycle Spare parts were initially dealing in buying and selling motorcycle parts but the group has now expanded into repair services by setting up garages in different parts of Yumbe town.
Andemani says the group has managed to pay back 16 percent of the money lent to them by the Youth Livelihood Programme.
In addition to that all members have been trained in motor cycle repairs.
“The young men are now fully occupied with the job and getting daily income something they didn’t have before. Another outstanding group is in Yiba trading center called Okuranga Youth Weaving project in Lodonga sub county Yumbe district.
They received Shs 9,335,000 the women group is now in the business of weaving sweaters and supplying them to schools in the district.
They have managed to pay back Shs2, 700,000 which is 29 percent of the money that was advanced to them by the Youth Livelihood Programme to start their business.
All the youth supported under the Programme, receive the funds through the Commercial Banks.
A number of these youth groups had never had any dealings with the Banks before, but are now holding savings accounts in the Commercial Banks.
Officials said this is a great achievement in the promotion of financial inclusion among the vulnerable youth.
Status of recovery of funds the repayment of the revolving fund has commenced in a number of projects.
The total amount repayment is Shs 6,911,337,312 that has been made by 4,484 projects, representing 47 percent of the Shs 14.8 Bn that is due to-date.
Bigirimana has since issued strict instructions that any District or Municipality that will not have recovered at least 50 percent of the amount due by the end of January 2017 will not be entitled for further funding for new projects.
The repayment rate is improving every month with an average weekly repayment of over Shs120m as shown in the table below.