Plan International in Uganda is initiating relationships with private companies to empower young people.
Through Village Savings and Loan Associations, Plan builds the capacity of young people to mobilize financial resources. These groups enable them to develop important skills that prepare them for the working world.
The capacity building of youths is expected to result in self-employment opportunities through increased access to better markets and finance. In addition to self-initiated ventures, Plan’s goal is to link youth entrepreneurs with private sector firms as a way of enhancing networking opportunities. Through corporate engagement, Plan will also be able to assist young people in obtaining jobs in the private sector.
Here are a few ways Village Savings and Loan Associations are working:
In August 2014, Airtel Uganda Ltd, in partnership with Plan Uganda and the Grameen Foundation, launched the “e-wallet” to allow saving groups to store their cash in the form of mobile money, unlike in the past when money was kept in metallic boxes or pots.
This technology has digitized the groups’ storage to ensure maximum security. At least 103 youth-led savings groups are already benefiting from this innovation, which has relieved group members from the challenges of carrying large sums of money for long distances to the bank. The e-wallet system has also created a high level of transparency within the groups. The product is in the process of being linked to financial institutions to create interest on savings and provide access to appropriate credit products.
Collaborating with Plan, KK Foods Fresh Produce Exporters Limited provides agronomist training and supervision of youth farmer groups to ensure quality production that can attract demand for the export market.
With a pilot of 100 producer groups, the service is expected to reach about 3,000 youths by 2016.
As part of the micro-distribution model, Plan, in a partnership with Barefoot Power Uganda, trains youths in marketing skills to become effective sales agents for Barefoot’s solar products.