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Young Entrepreneurs Club

Young people dropping out from school will be given the skills and support they need to learn a trade and start small businesses.

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"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” - Nelson Mandela. We believe that anyone can make their own future. By providing the skills and education young people in Uganda need, they can learn a trade, find work or start their own business to become financially independent. The unemployment rate for young people in Uganda aged 15–24 is 83% due to a disconnect between the level of education achieved by many young people - particularly girls - and the vocational skills needed for the jobs in demand for workers. Youth unemployment, especially in rural areas, creates a vicious cycle of poverty. Our idea is that school drop outs and young unskilled community members can attend vocational skills training sessions, learn a new trade through 'on the job' experience and be given support and mentorship through 'Young Entrepreneur Clubs' to help them find meaningful work and eventually start their own small business. Through the exchange of ideas with their peers, support from mentors in the local community, and placements with partner businesses they will both be inspired and have the skills they need to unlock new forms of participation in the local economy, creating a new generation able to own their own future. List of courses • Carpentry • Construction • Hairdressing/beauty • Tailoring • IT skills • Plumbing


Young people, particularly girls, in rural communities finishing primary or secondary school who do not have the resources or the will to continue studying and do not yet have the rights skills to find meangingful employment. Through our vocational training and mentorship initiative they will gain the skills and support they need to find work and start their own projects leading to financial independence and a greater contribution to their community.


We are a charity called Communities for Development. Communities for Development provides the training and support entrepreneurs in rural Uganda need to save, develop businesses and build thriving communities.


  • Uganda


  • Yes, for more than one year.


  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for over a year


After discussing the proposed 'Young Entrepreneurs Club' amongst community members and potential youth participants, one of the main areas of feedback was there were keen not to focus on income generating activities that already exist in their rural area. Where, for example, many families are reliant on agriculture for income, such as growing maize, this can be very problematic for various reasons such as unreliable climate conditions, unfavourable price-setting structures, controlled by third party intermediaries, and issues over land ownership. Therefore through brainstorming sessions, we understood that we should focus on non-agriculture related trade and skills in order to allow young people to have broader opportunities to diversify their sources of income. Some of the trades we identified that could fulfil this were carpentry, hairdressing, tailoring and IT skills.


We are fully aware that the concept of a vocational school itself is not unique. However, innovation is often about finding distinct ways of implementing existing concepts or ideas that are tailored to a specific environment rather than reinventing the wheel. In this case, where Communities for Development operate, many development initiatives and technological advances simply have not reached the rural, remote communities we work with, leaving behind the people who live there. What we want to do is create the spaces and opportunities for young people in isolated communities such as ours to also participate in the economy, contribute to the progress and development in the area, and become self-sufficient for themselves and their families. Our relationship with the close-knit community and the time we have spent there have allowed us to gain a unique insight into the very specific barriers that young people in our community face, enabling us to develop a programme that can seek to address those barriers in tangible ways. We don't only want to provide skills in a specific profession but also create a collaborative environment to incubate and inspire an entrepreneurial spirit.


Conditions for people in Uganda have certainly improved through decades of government and NGO initiatives. For example, there have been largely successful efforts to increase the literacy of young people, particularly girls. And the primary focus of our work has been enabling adults in rural Uganda create meaningful sources of income. However, we increasingly see there is a section of society falling through the gaps: young people who drop or fall out of education but are not yet work-ready as they lack the skills, experience and confidence. Our own surveys with community members identified this but also confirmed that there is appetite for a project to fill this gap (see attached).


We have already begun to define what specific barriers young people face to finding meaningful employment: for example, transport into more urban areas where there are opportunities can be difficult due to limited infrastructure and cost. Other expenses such as food can also be a burden for already struggling households. Although literacy rates are improving, many young people lack the skills for specific types of jobs e.g. IT or accounting. In terms of new business ventures, understanding market conditions is crucial to ensure there is healthy competition and avoid over-saturation. These issues need further investigation to ensure they are addressed in our model.


To-date we have focused on education, skills training and micro-finance but primarily by setting up saving groups and providing training for adults. We now wish to extend those activities to young people who currently are struggling to enter into the workforce other than through agricultural activities. We also recognise the challenges and barriers young people face differ, so we wish to create a programme tailor-made to address those challenges. Entrepreneurship has been at the core of Communities for Development's work and we now want to really embed the mind-set and open up opportunities for young people in rural areas to take advantage and participate in a rapidly changing African economy. We think it's important to recognise the specific needs of young people, therefore mentorship, support and providing safe spaces for them to learn and share new ideas will be more at the centre of our approach. We also believe that encouraging young people to collaborate with one another and providing rich spaces for them to think beyond the traditional ideas and markets that are currently available will set up the next generation to open up new methods of economic participation.


We currently have a structure of local leaders/trainers and a London-based management team, one of whom will set-up and oversee this initiative, at least for the initial stages. We also recognise we need to create strong relationships and partnerships with small and large business owners for the purpose of mentorship, training, apprenticeships for our members. The project manager would need to seek out viable opportunities and work to grow and develop these over time.

Communities for Development was created when engineers Iñigo Ruiz Apilánez and Sandra Díaz returned from a stint volunteering in Uganda in September 2014. While working on projects to improve access to water and sanitation in a rural village in Eastern Uganda, Bulambuli, they had learned about another challenge the local people faced – saving money.

Members of the remote, rural community had no access to financial services of any kind, making it very difficult to manage their money and cover even basic costs such as food and education, never mind saving or investing for the future.

Communities for Development helps tackle this by providing training, setting up saving groups, and support in setting up businesses so people can earn their own income and support themselves and their families  independently. The unique startup initiative works to unlock new forms of economic participation to help communities bring their dreams to life.

Working in rural Uganda in partnership with organisations, businesses, and individuals, C4D helps communities become self-sufficient in building a better future for themselves on their own terms. Through saving groups, training and support, they empower individuals to leverage their skills and savings to pursue development – as well as enabling ways to save and loan money and invest it in businesses that reap incomes to spend on education for their children, reinvest or save for the future.

At C4D we believe that long-lasting change will only come about through also ensuring young people are also given the best possible opportunities. By extending our work to also provide the skills and education young people need, we can ensure the next generation can own their own future. 


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Photo of Chelsea Takamine

Hi Pilar and Team! Amplify and our experts have some comments and questions for you - we encourage you to think about this feedback as you continue to improve and refine your idea.

-It's great that you've listened to the community, who have identified a need for off-farm IGAs to manage risk.
-I appreciate your recognition that the idea isn't new, but that the important bit is adapting it effectively to the particular place in which you work. In order to do this encourage you to: learn from others implementing similar work in the country; undertake a market scan to ensure that the selected trades are the right ones; consider how to draw in your savings groups experience to support access to financial skills and access to small amounts of capital; and consider including soft skills alongside technical skills. Specifically on the 'marketing campaign': it's creative and clever. I like the fact that it highlights that even 'necessity entrepreneurs' are risk takers. But consider how you may include 'micro-innovations' to cope with changing circumstances, to demonstrate that rural communities in Africa aren't stagnant.
-Did you create a training center? Where are the courses delivered? By whom? Do the teachers/ trainers have a work experience in the field? What is their business model?

In case you missed it, OpenIDEO and Amplify hosted a Storytelling Office Hour - Storytelling is an incredibly useful tool to articulate an idea and help make it come to life! Don't forget - December 18th is your last day to make changes to your idea on the OpenIDEO platform.

Looking forward to reading more!

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