Heifer Uganda Partners with Mastercard Foundation to Expand Youth Employment in Agriculture

By Heifer International

November 20, 2023

Heifer International and the Mastercard Foundation will extend their collaboration in a new partnership to expand access to agribusiness opportunities for over 250,000 young people in Uganda.

The Stimulating Agribusiness for Youth Employment (SAYE) project, led by Heifer International and local partners, will run from 2023 to 2029 in the Busoga sub-region of Eastern Uganda.

The project aims to empower young people aged 16 to 35 by improving skills, expanding market access and offering inclusive financing in key sectors including poultry, horticulture, oilseed, dairy and beef value chains. Young women will make up 70 percent of participants, while 3 percent will be young persons with disabilities.

Two women laugh as they travel down a rural road.

Dianah Nanyonga, left,  and Christine Namazzi, right, earn incomes through agribusiness in rural Uganda. Photo by Fábio Erdos/Heifer International.

“Our goal is to transform the market ecosystem in Busoga in a way that drives inclusion and economic resilience for the many young people who currently have trouble securing dignified and fulfilling work,” said Heifer International President and CEO Surita Sandosham. 

The $48 million SAYE project will build on the work of Heifer International’s East Africa Youth Inclusion Program (EAYIP), which was also in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, and created 33,000 new jobs for more than 25,000 young people between 2016 and 2022. EAYIP leveraged an agri-hub model to boost young people’s access to technical, business and financial products and services.

Under SAYE, Heifer will lead the formation and strengthening of youth- and farmer-led agri-hubs, while local partners will focus on business incubation, skills training, promoting micro, small and medium enterprises, and improving access to financial services.

A young woman in Uganda uses a paper flier to teach a small group of youth.
Fosca Etap, 27, leads a training on irrigation for young farmers in Uganda. Photo by Joseph Muhumuza/Heifer International.

The SAYE project will roll out in 11 districts of the Busoga sub-region: Jinja, Mayuge, Iganga, Kamuli, Kaliro, Namutumba, Bugweri, Luka, Buyende, Bugiri and Namayengo. The high rates of poverty in these districts partly stem from an overreliance on low-value crops like sugar cane and limited opportunities for income generation. SAYE is targeting sectors with low entry barriers for young people and high market potential, aiming to boost local income opportunities. 

“We are committed to creating opportunities for young people in agriculture as part of our Young Africa Works strategy. Our goal is to enable 4.3 million Ugandan youth, particularly young women, to access dignified and fulfilling work by 2030. This initiative will equip them with the necessary skills and resources to engage in various aspects of the agriculture value chain,” said Adrian Bukenya, country director for Uganda at the Mastercard Foundation. 

Hands count a stack of bills in Uganda.
Access to financing and business support can help young people leverage the agriculture sector and build productive livelihoods. Photo by Zahara Abdul/Heifer International.

The SAYE project will also focus on diversifying value chains, embracing tech solutions and adopting climate-smart agriculture. These efforts, along with private sector engagement and multiple partners, seek to provide young people with sustainable employment.

Heifer International began working in Uganda in 1982 by delivering cattle to rural communities.

To date, Heifer Uganda has supported over 6 million families across the country through agriculture and environmentally-sound economic development programs. Heifer Uganda is currently present in 19 districts of the Central, Eastern, West Nile and Northern regions.