East Africa Youth Inclusion Project

Empowering youth

The majority of Uganda and Tanzania’s populations are youth, who grow up in poverty.

Detailed map highlighting the geographic locations of past and active projects in Uganda and Tanzania.
Location
Uganda and Tanzania
Products
Crops, dairy, poultry

Building connections

A young woman and a young man in the East Africa Youth Inclusion Project sit outside as part of a group. The two of them are looking over documents and have a calculator close at hand.

More than 70 percent of Uganda’s population is under the age of 30, followed closely by Tanzania, which is home to more than 30 million youth. Many live in rural areas with high poverty levels and limited access to education and job opportunities.

The East Africa Youth Inclusion Project is working to change that. In both countries, the main livelihood is agriculture. With the right training, investment, and support to produce quality agricultural products, young people can build lucrative businesses and access new markets.

And with job-specific technical training, others can find employment at private sector companies within their home countries. To ensure that the training provided truly equips project participants with the skills they need to get a job, we foster meaningful relationships with private sector companies.

 

See the project in action

The East Africa Youth Inclusion Project is a partnership with The MasterCard Foundation and our implementing partners MIICO, Restless Development and Youth Alive. Together, we work with 25,000 youth from regions across Tanzania and Uganda as they set up youth groups and go through a process of identifying income-generating opportunities within their own communities.

A young man in a Hawaiian shirt addresses members of the East Africa Youth Inclusion Project, who sit in plastic chairs in front of a small building with big pieces of paper taped to it that has notes about business development.

Some choose to grow crops, like pumpkin, corn and watermelon, that’s sold in markets across the country and beyond. Others develop dairy, poultry or other livestock-based businesses, producing a wide range of nutritious food, including milk and eggs, as well as increasing the value of those products by making them into other items, like cheese and yogurt.

Those who don’t pursue careers in agriculture, focus on skills-based training and coaching in areas such as mechanics, baking, food hygiene, or restaurant and business management. Equipped with knowledge and skills that are in demand in their sectors, they are able to fill critical jobs in the private sector.

In some regions, the project builds on existing infrastructure that local communities have developed with support from Heifer and our partners. We have a strong history of helping farmers and their cooperatives set up milk collection hubs as part of our East African Dairy Development project. For youth in those areas, we connect them with dairy businesses, so they can get access to credit, veterinary services and animal feed.

A young woman wearing a black headscarf looks up at something off screen, presumably a speaker, as two young men in the back look at something in the other direction.

In other communities, the East Africa Youth Inclusion Project is establishing youth-focused hubs to build network connections between these businesses as they scale. Restaurants need a wide range of supplies to make healthy dishes. Bakeries need eggs and flour to make their goods. Yogurt producers need reliable sources of quality milk. Through the hubs, the young entrepreneurs behind these businesses are able to support one another, building inclusive markets together.

As the youth groups get their businesses off the ground, they often need working capital, which can be difficult to secure as many don’t have a house or land to use as security for a bank loan. To combat this challenge, local groups launch savings and loans programs, using the funds they collect to strategically invest in their businesses. As they continue to develop business plans and identify opportunities to scale their businesses, they can also access credit through a $1 million revolving loan fund set up by the project.

Since joining the Bukaye Youth Development Association in Bugiri, Uganda, Daniel Wokorach has found structure and assistance that he previously didn’t have access to.

“I’ve never had any direction in life, and I was barely scraping a living from one day to the next,” he said.

Now, with support from the East African Youth Inclusion Project, Daniel cultivates flowers, hedges, and trees, including orange, mango, conifer, and giant lira. Through his local group, he’s been able to save money, which he’s used to set up a tree nursery that now employs seven other young people from his community.