The Tree Capital program will enable Ugandan youth with agri-business ideas in rural communities to access startup capital and provide them with a Mobile Based Agri-business training, Information and Financial record management tool (MOBFIT) to enable them set up their own agribusiness enterprises. Each youth who will undergo the program will actually set up a business of his/her own choosing in her community to financially empower him/herself and create more opportunity in the community.
Tree Capital is an innovation by Tree Adoption Uganda (TAU); a youth led Non-Government Organization that seeks to jointly address youth unemployment, climate change and reduce rural-urban migration by creating local economies in rural communities. We leverage on creatively using environmental conservation activities like tree planting that help corporate companies to offset carbon as a platform to provide the much needed startup capital for young people with business ideas.
Unemployment; 78% of Ugandans are unemployed (USAID2011), 80% of these are young people (World Bank2011); 44% of them are in rural areas and migrate to the city (USAID 2006) seeking better opportunities (Herrin et al), which are unavailable and thus end up in drugs, crime and slums.
Climate change; in 15 years Uganda’s forest cover has declined by 26% (NEMA/UNEP) without extensive reforestation climate change will worsen and forests will be extinct in next 40 years (NEMA 2012). The climatic changes have made agriculture less productive and decreased the income generated by a particular family.
The program will target the most vulnerable young people in the communities who will be selected according to the following criteria.
Orphans; young people who have lost one or both parents
School drop outs
Young people with unplanned pregnancies
Young people living with HIV/AIDS
Young people whose parent(s) are living with HIV/AIDS
Child laborers; young people who are working
Young people with children (dependants)
Young people forced into early marriages
Young people who have been left to fend for themselves
Under the Tree Capital model;
Young people with community developing business ideas will be identified through local community leadership. They will then be provided with an agricultural value chain enhancing training in setting up fruit tree nurseries of at least 2000 trees each. The training will include; harvesting and processing seeds, preparing a nursery bed, timely weeding and pruning, propagation, budding and grafting with more productive species.
Tree Adoption Uganda will then approach corporate companies that wish to have their carbon offset through planting trees. We will give them an added incentive in that their corporate social responsibility money will not only offset carbon by having trees planted in their name but will go ahead to fund entrepreneurship training and provide startup capital to young people to start businesses.
Upon receiving the funds from the corporate companies, we will go back to the young people under the tree capital program who set up nurseries and buy the saplings from them. Each young person will raise at least 1000 USD. We will then sign an agreement with them that this income generated will be used to start the business idea they have always dreamed of. We will provide each with 6 months entrepreneurship skills training using the MOBFIT app and continue to support and mentor them to ensure their business grows and becomes sustainable.
We will then take the fruit trees and together with the young people in the tree capital program and other community members plant the trees around farmlands, in schools, and around family homes where they will give added benefits that include:
Adding nutrients to the soil; thus supporting sustainable agriculture
Offset carbon for our corporate partners
Act as wind breakers to protect crops against the strong winds. Thus protect against stresses that result into food insecurity.
Provide fruits that can supplement the nutrition of children and other community members.
Tree Adoption Uganda, will then build a mobile based platform that will;
Provide a mobile based financial service tool that will enable the new entrepreneurs to keep records of their transactions, capture their daily business related activities, sales, expenses, and calculate profits. This will provide a timely assessment of business growth and create financial records that can be used by the young people to access micro loans to grow their businesses.