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CATHY- (Catch Them Young) Entrepreneurship Mentoring Project "inspiring, equipping and skilling youth as job creators."

The mismatch between the skills that young people offer and the ones that employers need has alarmingly increased the number youth walking in the streets with a clutch of academic papers. The idea therefore is to introduce an experience-based model of education into schools by vocationalizing Agriculture to start and run school-based enterprises “My School Entrepreneurship Project.” It will focus on Leadership, skilled-based Apprenticeship and Business Incubation providing young women with practical skills in employment, business, leadership, financial literacy, communication, peer networking and mentoring opportunities to enable them confidently & competitively enter the global economy and job market as employers or employees.

Photo of Rehmah Kasule

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CATHY- (Catch Them Young) Mentoring Project is an Entrepreneurship Development Skills initiative that will ease youth’s transition from school to work by creating pathways to employment for young women aged 16-24 years. CATHY will be an 18 months project that will be implemented in three secondary schools and two universities in Uganda.  It will ignite young women's self-discovery, confidence, cognitive skills, critical thinking, innovation and inter-dependence skills that are critical for success in the 21st century work places. The project is designed on the premise that y outh must take charge of their lives and destiny by actively engaging in job creation initiatives. The project is aimed at  linking education to employment-demanded skills, creating attitude change for vocational studies and mind-set renewal to engage the youth, their communities and governments to reframe their thinking to empower youth as JOB-CREATORS. To program will bridge the gap between education and work by encouraging schools to form closer relations with local companies, embrace apprenticeships and promote vocational skills in order to counteract the country’s obsession with academic laurels. The project is designed to build and capitalize on the youth's individual strengths, develop their skills and competencies, provide them with resources and support for long-term professional growth.

"The Project’s theory of change is that as a movement of inspired, active, skilled and engaged young women is built, their thinking will be re-framed to confidently take charge of their lives, translate the theoretical study into practical skills that will ignite their entrepreneurial skills to become job creators."

***interim Prototype attached.

The program’s strategic approach will use an innovative methodology to increase the youth’s employability and job creation skills using the  5D CYCLE® Model that will enable the young women to  DISCOVER who they are and the opportunities are around them,  DREAM about what their careers and the businesses they can create,  DESIGN goals and strategies of reaching those visions and  DEVELOP key leadership, business and management skills that lead them to rewarding  DESTINIES to become the best at whatever they choose to do. Information Communication Technologies will be used during the program including use of e-mentoring, motivational audios, videos and other e-learning interactive tools.

How it will work
During the Program, Mentors will go to selected secondary schools and universities to work with students, who we call  Rising Stars. Using 2 hours every week, Mentors will guide the young women through an innovative and experiential curriculum in socio-economic empowerment and transformation that will include five main components described below:

1. Personal Leadership skills Development: The growth-oriented, practical, peer-to-peer driven classroom experience will equip young women with skills like self-discovery, confidence, communication, critical thinking, goal setting, innovation and creativity, writing of CVs and interview skills.

2.Vocationalizing of theoretical subjects: Using the school land, the young women with support from the teachers, parents and community will establish farms to grow vegetables (tomatoes, cabbages, beans, carrots) and rear chickens. With support from Kyambogo and Makerere university food science and nutritionist, using simple technology the young women will add value to the agriculture products to produce tomato ketchup, peanut butter and create snack bars from nuts and fruits. They will set up vegetable canteens and sell products to other students, the school and community.

3. Incubation of business ideas and Setting up Businesses:
The Rising Stars will be trained in management, basic business skills, book keeping, business planning and resource mobilization and will be supported to start school-based enterprises. The students will run the businesses for one year with proper systems, management and employees hired from the students to gain work experience.

4. Financial Literacy:
The Rising Stars will be trained in financial literacy as a basis for personal and business budgeting, financial planning and management as well as self-discipline. Using the Village Savings and Loan Associations-VSLAs model, they will collectively mobilize monthly savings to accumulate funds to further invest in their businesses and for personal goals. Saving 10 dollars a month for example, each Rising Star will have $120 a year, with cumulative group savings of 12,000 for a hundred students.

5. Mentorship and Skills Apprenticeship:
The management team of each Entrepreneurship Project will be linked to successful businesswomen for holiday career-related Apprenticeship to increase their management and leadership skills. The young women will have access role models and mentors that will guide them to have planned and rewarding careers, accumulate new skills, get exposure and networking opportunities. Participants will be organized into Business Clusters and link them to markets. Through Mentoring Clubs, each Rising Star will be tasked to mentor two other young women and the two will mentor four to increase peer-to-peer mentoring, support systems, learning, sharing and collaboration for personal, career and business growth.

Key Questions for the Community
Young women:

What is your dream job?
What do you want to become when you grow up?
What are 21st Century skills?
Would you take agriculture as a career option?
Who is your role model for your career dreams?
Do you think that you will get a job after leaving school? 

Teachers and school management
How best can the young women be supported to gain work-relevant skills?
What resources exist within the schools that will support the project implementation?
With the hectic academic curriculum, is there room for practical entrepreneurship sessions?
Are you aware of 21st Century skills? 
Parents and people living in the Community:
How best can we support the young women during holiday breaks? 

Private Sector and Business women
Are there possibilities of taking in young women for internship placements?
Would you spend time mentoring a young woman to do a similar business to yours? 

Government: What strategies are in plan to revamp practical agriculture in schools? 

Why the idea will work:
Youth employment creation is critical: Youth Employment is now on top of the Agenda for the East African countries. Creating linkages with government programs will create funding for the program.

Existing resources for sustainability: Being implemented in the school using existing facilities, students and systems, the project will greatly succeed and impact many youth. This model is feasible because 75% of public secondary schools in Uganda have land for farming and there is ready market within the schools for the products.

Agriculture accounts to 75% of country’s revenue: Agriculture is a number one creator of employment and a key sector on a national level. Revamping of Agriculture as a career option has been cited as a key development avenue for the country. Agriculture value chains are also diverse giving room for value addition and youth can engage in any level of the chain.

Evidenced-based Results: Vocational skills backed with business support services, transforms the trajectory of youth’s lives.

Scalability and Adaptability: This idea can work any where in the world, each school or community has something that students and schools can vocationalize, start businesses and get income.

Experienced Implementers with strong partnerships: The implementing organization CEDA International has successfully implemented other projects that have resulted into creation of over 1000 youth employment in the last 5 years. 

Example 1: "My Entrepreneurship Project" makes money and creates employment experience

In Tororo Girls School, the Rising Star students start a demonstration farm growing tomatoes, maize, beans, cabbages and cassava. They engage the community and other students for labour. After 4 months of farming, they get a large harvest from the school farm and sell the vegetables to the school to be consumed by all the other girls in the school. They set up a vegetable canteen and start selling vegetables to other students and a market day to the community every Saturday. The students get hands-on experience working at the farm and managing the business, and being employed as workers and also earn salaries for their work. They collectively save enough money to set up a green house to grow more vegetables during the dry season.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Example 2: Mentorship equips youth to pass interviews, get jobs and rise high to earn more income
Lydia Atimu is in her last year of university studying Hotel Management and Tourism. Her dream job is to become an air hostess in one of the regional airlines. Having been abducted by Kony, the rebel fighter in northern Uganda, her life has always been full of hardships and no hope for the future. At the Mentoring Walk event, she meets the Managing Director of South African Airways in Uganda. By sharing her dream during the 15 minutes discussion they had, she learns of an upcoming interview for young interns at South African Airways. With support and guidance from her peers, Lydia polishes up her CV and practices for the interview. Due to her confidence, attitude and demeanor and globally knowledge, she gets a part time employment  as customer agent at the front desk and is confirmed after six months as a permanent employee.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Example 3: Clusters provide exposure to mentors, markets, equip youth with practical skills, money and employment
Ten young women from Kyambogo University start a group producing Peanut Butter and Tomato Ketchup. Through their cluster, they produce enough products and organize an exhibition and sell to their fellow students, parents and people from the community. At the national boot camp, they pitch their idea and grab the attention of Javas Restaurant, a Ugandan owned business that owns a chain of top eating outlets. Javas Restaurant supports the group in quality management, branding, marketing and exhibition skills. The young women get a contract worth $2000 to supply products to Javas Restaurants for one year. 

Who does this idea benefit, who are the main players and what's in it for them?

The idea will mainly benefit young women who despite the fact that they have manage to successfully graduate from university, formal education alone doesn't empower them to transit into the world. With a country of youth being 75% of the population, the challenge of youth unemployment challenge will be best be addressed by governments, business and civil society working together as partners to create lasting, sustainable solutions, therefore collaborative action will be key in creating better impact for the program. To program will bridge the gap between education and work by upgrading vocational skills subjects, encourage schools to form closer relations with local companies, embrace apprenticeships and promote vocational skills in order to counteract the country’s obsession with academic laurels. Government and relevant Ministries: This being a systemic challenge within the education curricula, the Ministry of Education and sports will be a critical partner to gradually integrate Leadership, Mentoring and Entrepreneurship skills into the existing school curricula for all students to improve youth’s transition into work. Other relevant governments departments like Ministry of Gender, labour and Youth Development, Minister of Industries and Co-operatives will also be partnered with to increase budgets towards youth development programs and ease access to the National Youth Development Fund to finance the businesses started by the youth. Food and Agricultural Organization-FAO will be approached to provide technical and financial support to the agricultural projects through the tele-food program. Through advocacy and effective communication, the program will attract government to commit other economic structures like setting up Business Incubation Centres to support the initiative for country level implementation. Private Companies: The Program will create links to the Coca-Cola 5by20 Program that will provide women jobs to 5 million women by 2020 by creating small businesses in the Coca-Cola value chain. The young women will also be connected to various value chains for companies like Procter and Gamble, Unilever, MTN and Mukwano Industries to have access to discounted products, get training as sales agents or micro-retailers. Financial Institutions: Barclays, citi Bank, DFCU Bank, Strome Micro-finance, Pride Micro-finance: to support business planning and financial literacy, open accounts for the program beneficiaries and other young women in the school and provide affordable credit at growth stages of the businesses. The financial institutions benefit from the monthly deposits and transactions. Telecommunication Companies: Ericsson Africa: provide computers and tablets to enable mentors and the young women to access 21st century tools: audios, videos, publications and other interactive learning materials. Smile Communications: to provide internet routers and internet data to the schools. Mentors and Volunteers: Medium size businesses will provide women employees as role models and mentors for young women. A group of strong, young and committed mentors will deliver the program activities. These are university graduates who are employed and provide their time as part of their career development and community service. As a result of their support, they are also rigorously trained to enhance their leadership skills and are connected to the CEDA International network world wide. Parents and teachers/lecturers: These will be trained to support the programs and act as support mentors and integrate the skills, disciplines and competences into existing family and community structures and systems in order to impact more youth.

How is your idea specifically increasing access to employment opportunities and pathways for young people?

With a strong conviction that “the greatest injustice facing Uganda and other African country's youth is not poverty, corruption, AIDS, or lack of access to education; the most profound problem is failure of the education systems to empower youth to solve these challenges.” The idea will bridge the mismatch between the skills that young people offer and the ones that employers need by equipping youth with 21st century skills relevant for the job market. Even for young women who may not embrace entrepreneurship, this project will equip them with Self-belief that will get them to apply for jobs, good writing skills will get them through the door to the interview, Communication and Confidence will get them the job, good Attitude and Character will keep them employed and continuous Mentorship will make them rising to the top. Running of small business will provide a unique opportunity to the young women to acquire hands-on experiences in micro-enterprise management, ignite their entrepreneurial skills and also increase survival of their businesses and spur their growth and income. Illustration of the beneficiary Halima Nabukera is a young woman with no work and few prospects: at 22-year-old, she is graduating from Makerere University in 1 year with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Food Science, Nutrition and Technology. With no work experience, no networks, no finances and no hope for the future Halima's prospects of getting a job or starting a business are minimal. Enrolling in the Cathy Project Halima develops her leadership, entrepreneurship and life skills. A mentor helps her to gain self-confidence to design a business idea to start packaging nutritious fresh fruits for corporate company workers. She writes a good business plan, trains in packaging, branding and marketing, brushes up her communication skills and her dressing. She is introduced to a young women's Mentoring Club in her community to start saving and for peer-to-peer learning and is connected to a trade association and an experienced woman entrepreneur for skills apprenticeship and mentorship. By saving 150,000 ($60), Halima proudly starts selling fruits to her other university students at the faculty and in the halls of residence. After 6 months of support, Hal's Fresh Fruits and Juices is officially launched, her main customers are people who work in Banks and Telecommunication company offices near the university.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Build on existing school programs: The Program will building on the existing partnerships and networks established by CEDA International's Rising Stars Mentoring Program in secondary school, the UniAction Program in Universities and the wealth of experience from the Youth Engaged Program that runs an employment and business centre for out-of-school youth. Pilot project: This project will initially work with 4 secondary schools and 3 universities around the country. It will work with sectors that have high market demand (arts and craft), are in National Plan (agriculture), and easy to produce and market (foods and pastries). It will also consider sustainability by utilizing community resources and support, access to technical expertise, relevancy to careers, and scalability of the model for adaption in other school environments and countries. Pro-type of the model: For one year, the program will specifically focus on strengthening and refining the Rising Stars 5D CYCLE® model, gather key learnings, evidence, documentation and develop a strong Monitoring and Evaluation system that will enable the Program’s future scaling up. The Program will engage, collaborate and learn from other youth employment programs about the best practices and most impactful and sustainable solutions. Scale-up: After rigorous testing, a Pro-type model will be finalized and ready for scale up by 2017. The model will be shared for adaptation by various organization implementing youth employment programs. Efforts will be put in working with development partners like MasterCard Foundation, International Labour Organization World Bank and African Development Bank to mainstream youth employment into their strategic plans with emphasis on vocational and entrepreneurship skills development.

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to receive from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

- Sharing and learning from others about result-based and sustainable solutions to youth un employment - Sharing of models, research and learning - Learning how to work with governments to provide budgets for youth development work for civil society organizations - Exploring collaborations and Partnerships with other community leaders

The idea emerged from:

  • A group brainstorm

How do you envision your idea being implemented?

  • Keen to prototype it, find partners and pursue implementation


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Photo of Edward Semambo

This is an interesting and bold idea Rehmah, I particularly love your problem analysis and strategy!

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