The European Union Trust Fund (EUTF) will spend Shs 16 billion of its resources in Uganda on helping youth living in slums to set up businesses.
Under a project, Strengthening Social Cohesion and Stability in Slum Populations, the EUTF will provide equipment and financial services to start-ups in the Kampala slums of Bwaise, Kabalagala, Katwe and Kisenyi.
Elisa Crowe, acting chief of mission at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Uganda, has told The Observer that one of the great challenges of the 21st century is youth unemployment.
Crowe explained that the strategy of the donors, IOM Uganda and local partners is to support the beneficiaries make a decent, peaceful living so as to avoid conflict.
“Here in Kampala, a baseline study in four slums found that the residents most vulnerable to despair and inter-communal conflicts were youth aged between 15 and 35; the major sources of their grievances included poverty, unemployment and family disputes” she said
Assistance will go to small businesses dealing in crafts and jewelry, hairdressing, food production, information and communications technology (ICT). Other recipients include those involved in plumbing, carpentry, poultry and tailoring.
Crowe noted that due to unemployment, the youth have increasingly been linked to restless populations, inter-communal conflicts, and violent extremism.
“When young people are unemployed and poor, they become desperate, and can easily get overwhelmed by discontent and predictably, this makes them vulnerable to forces of conflict, including radicalisation,” Crowe said.
Crowe said one study of a large sample of al-Shabab recruits in Kenya found that half of them were unemployed. Sahra Farah, the project manager at IOM, said the first group of 41 will receive items to start their business shortly and within the next two months another 160 beneficiaries will have been covered.
“What we are witnessing is the beginning of the harvesting of the fruits of result area six; which is supporting vulnerable youths in target communities to access employment opportunities and financial services for start-ups,” she said.
She further explained that the Small Business Set-ups is one of the cornerstones of the project. This component will receive Euro 1.2 million.
Items procured include sewing machines for shoes and cloth, desktop computers, fridges, freezers, cameras, equipment for carpentry, jewelry and different fabrics.
“I would like to end by urging you who are receiving this support, to make the most of it. Please put the training you received from Enterprise Uganda to proper use,” Farah said.
Mohammed Kasirisa, the founder of Action for Fundamental Change and Development (AFFCAD), said by the end of the three and half years, more than 1,000 students are expected to have gone through Bwaise Business Vocational Institute run by AFFCAD and other institutions around the slums.
Other institutions working with IOM include YARID, ACTogether and Xavier Project.