Whatever it was, my dad was determined to make it in life. He grew up from a polygamous family with over 40 siblings and “mum and Dad” pampering was not their daily meal as they were many in the family. My dad, as young as he was, put himself through school with a little help from his family and relatives. He was a very bright and hardworking kid who never said yes to failure. One way or the other, he got what he wanted. As a teenager, he painted people’s pictures to collect some cash and sustain himself, and as a youth, he did hand brick making and photography (forget the expensive photography now. Those days, taking a picture with a camera was a rare case) as a way to earn income, despite being a professional Fine Art Teacher. A teacher’s salary in Uganda, just like many other African countries is not the best so he had to find other income generating opportunities to sustain himself, and at that time, his wife and my brother and sister.
The time I was born, my father was still doing photography and brickmaking but this was for his personal development. He was constructing a primary school using his bricks before he even made 30 years! As I write this, he owns a primary school, a secondary school, a farm where my siblings and I have grown up working on and other multiple small businesses.
Now I stood in awe of this! In our generation, it’s quite hard to make such progress in life at that age considering the many stumbling blocks. I sat with my dad 2years ago and I asked for his story. I was amazed, encouraged and challenged. He said many of the best ways to live on and maintain a healthy financial life style are to live within your means, save, and invest. He also advised me not to fear taking risks. He quit his teaching job without a real fall back plan but he persisted and committed to seeing his goals come through. This made me realize that being a professional accountant spending 12hours in the office working for someone and fulfilling their dreams means am abandoning my own dreams, and being self-employed is incomparable. I threw away the books, and headed to the farm!
It is from my dad’s inspiration that I drew motivation and passion to help myself and the youth in my community live sustainable livelihoods and wipe out poverty through empowering them with skills and expertise in mainly agribusiness and other entrepreneurial ventures. I started this on a trial basis with my brother and we stocked 300 chicken layers. The result was prolific! This encouraged me to continue and try out with other youth in my community and the reception is so far great.
I do this by making youth groups of 5 individuals with common goals whom I congregate and train, then provide collateral free small money to do a farming project, which we supervise until harvesting period. We then buy the produce from these youth groups at a better price than the prevailing market price and we sell the produce at a bigger price to other communities so as to raise more money to help other groups and the cycle continues. At every harvest, we fulfill one of the goals of the youth in the group, for instance, building a house, starting their own personal business and paying school fees among other goals. I started this in September 2016, and so far I have trained and impacted over 50 youth with skills in agribusiness and entrepreneurship among which 3 individuals are now running their own personal businesses in Poultry farming, pig farming and Baking. I am also setting up a saving and micro credit scheme for the youth in my community to help them save and also be able to get some loans to further elevate their ventures.
For me to see the youth succeed means I’ve succeeded. I put my life into this, and I strongly believe the youth are the core, the mantle and even the crust of the world. Once they are empowered, the problems we face in the world such as poverty and unemployment will be wiped out and the world will be a better place to live in.
Show Poverty the red card, increase income, improve livelihoods!