OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Tree Adoption Uganda

We offer 6 months basic start up business training to youths and use trees to help them raise startup capital to set up their own businesses

Photo of Basil Biddemu Mwotta

Written by

EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

The Problem: Youth Unemployment; 78% of Ugandans are unemployed (USAID2011), 80% are youths (World Bank2011); 44% in rural areas migrate to cities (USAID 2006) for better opportunities (Herrin et al), which are unavailable and thus end up in drugs, crime and slums. Deforestation: 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 Solution: Youth unemployment is rampant because young people lack capital and skills of empowering themselves into self made entrepreneurs. For this we offer basic business training, 6 months mentorship and free consultation to youth in underdeveloped, low opportunity villages, enabling them to create, develop and grow their own businesses. We then help them raise startup capital via our “Tree capital” program; they set up tree nurseries, we sell the trees to our customers. The participants use the income to start or expand their businesses. We carry out reforestation campaigns in National Forest Reserves so as to abate the effects of climate change and combat the rampant deforestation.

WHO BENEFITS?

Wasswa is a 21-year-old maize farmer, he dreams of producing more and selling to the city. With Tree Adoption Uganda, he will join a group of other dynamic youths, attend business skills workshops and learn from successful entrepreneurs. He will set up a tree nursery, have his trees marketed and sold to big customers. This income will enable him expand his business. For 6months he will receive free consultation and mentorship.

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU

Our Organization is based in Uganda with a team of committed community enthusiasts that include; Mwotta, Charles, Miriam, Rita and Jovial. We have immersed ourselves in the communities where we work through our various programs like TreeCapital and BookCamp.

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

  • Uganda

EXPERIENCE IN IMPLEMENTATION COUNTRY(IES)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

EXPERTISE IN SECTOR

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

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BECAUSE OF BENEFICIARY FEEDBACK?

During our interviews with our beneficiaries and various stake holders in the community including the chairman LC1, LC2, the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) and the plantations officer of the National Forestry Authority (NFA), the idea of emphasising focus on commercial tree species such as Eucalyptus and Pine trees that can mean higher income returns for our beneficiaries was brought up. As an organization we are very keen on conservation and maintaining ecological equilibrium, we understand the effects of these kinds of trees on the rest of the plant life and we are currently finding way of sustainably incorporating this in our model. We have started discussions with the NFA in line with the Government approved Collaborative Forestry Management(CFM) program to have land that is part of the national reserve but deforested allocated to our beneficiaries on lease to carry out commercial tree farming at a reasonable scale and our field team is currently doing research on feasibility of such a venture. We are excited that it came from our own beneficiaries and looking at the financial returns from commercial tree farming we realise, we can substantially increase household income.

HOW IS YOUR IDEA UNIQUE?

Several organizations like Enterprise Uganda, have organized capacity building workshops and training to young people, however so many of these young people have not gone on to set up businesses because they lack start-up capital. We have identified the gaps in this market space and have come up with an innovative way of translating all these training sessions into actual businesses. We are unique because we provide training to young people and go ahead to creatively outsource start-up capital for them. They set up various businesses of their own choosing thus promoting diversification. The trees planted such as fruit trees in communities provide additional benefits such as acting as wind breakers, supplement nutrition, be a source of income, improve soil fertility, abate climate change, among others. This is unlike many ventures doing tree planting like ECOTRUST, which require individuals to plant indigenous species on their land and render it unusable for other purposes and yet cannot provide short-term benefits to them like fruit trees. We adopt agro-forestry approaches like permaculture to plants trees around farmlands while keeping them useable for planting crops.

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HAS NOT BEEN SOLVED?

Youth unemployment in Uganda currently stands at 80% and has been so for over the past 10 years. Only recently we have experienced the damning effects of climate change as we suffered a drought of over 4 months during a period that was formerly known to be a planting season. As a result last week the Ministry of Agriculture elevated the warning on food security while announcing that over 1.3 million Ugandans currently are facing chronic food shortage and are at the danger of starvation. There has been a lack of approaching problems from a multi-sectoral stand point, we notice that climate change affects food security, farming, business and contribute to unemployment.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS IDEA?

Our current question that has developed from our recent interaction with our beneficiaries is how do we integrate commercial tree farming into our model while ensuring conservation objectives and principles of our organization values remain intact. We understand the lucrative opportunity of such a venture and what it means for increasing the household incomes of our beneficiaries but we are seeking sustainable ways and processes of integrating this in our blue print.

IS THIS IDEA NEW FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION?

We have worked on this idea since our inception in 2013. At Tree Adoption Uganda, we recognize the future negative impact that climate change will have on our community's health and economic outlook – it is for this reason that our program provides a unique correlation between natural resource conservation and economic empowerment. Each of our entrepreneurs obtains start-up capital because of the trees they plant and care for – as thus we create a generation of young entrepreneurs who are convinced that environmental conservation is essential to their economic well being and thus perpetuate the idea of going green. Our approach also encourages corporate companies to become ‘carbon conscience’ by harnessing green technologies and getting their ‘hands into the soil’ by actively engaging in environmental conservation activities that offset carbon like planting trees as a core value and corporate social responsibility activity. Their corporate social responsibility money however, does not only offset carbon by having trees planted in their name but also provides start up capital for youths to venture into businesses that include agribusinesses.

WHO WILL IMPLEMENT THIS IDEA?

Our team is so diverse yet so compatible, multidisciplinary and with varied backgrounds, talents, skills and experiences; we seek the opportunity to harness its potential while furthering the members’ development. We were all part of the student leadership at Makerere University and the challenges we addressed at that level transformed us into a close knit of associates that work together as one coherent team. We are ready to learn and are working full-time to realise positive social change.

Tree Capital:

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 to provide the much needed startup capital for young people with business ideas.

The Problem

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.

 Target group

The program targets the most vulnerable young people in the communities who are 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

Our Model

Under the Tree Capital model;

Young people with community developing business ideas are identified through local community leadership. They are then provided with an agricultural value chain enhancing training in setting up fruit tree nurseries of at least 2000 trees each. The training includes; harvesting and processing seeds, preparing a nursery bed, timely weeding and pruning, propagation, budding and grafting with more productive species.

Tree Adoption Uganda then approach customers on behalf or the young people under the TreeCapital program to find a market for the trees. Our customers are informed that  by buying from us this income goes ahead to fund entrepreneurship training and provide startup capital to young people to start businesses.

Upon receiving the funds from various, we go back to the young people under the tree capital program who set up nurseries and buy the saplings from them. Our target is that each young person raises at least 1000 USD. We then agree with them that this income generated be used to start the business idea they have always dreamed of. We go ahead to provide each with 6 months entrepreneurship skills training and continue to support and mentor them to ensure their business grows and becomes sustainable.

We 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.


SHARE ONE SENTENCE ABOUT THE IMPACT YOU WOULD LIKE THIS PROJECT TO HAVE FIVE YEARS FROM NOW, AND ONE QUESTION YOU NEED TO ANSWER TO GET THERE.

I want each young person that undergoes the TreeCapital to have the capacity to establish their own small scale business or find meaningful employment that enables them to obtain the pre-requisites of a decent living. The most important question for us is how do we create a sustainable ecosystem of young entrepreneurial youth?

MY ORGANIZATION'S OPERATING BUDGET FOR 2015 WAS:

  • Under $100,000

MY INTENDED BENEFICIARIES ARE:

  • Within 50 km of where our team does most of its work

HOW LONG HAVE YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUES BEEN WORKING ON THIS PILOT PROJECT TOGETHER?

  • More than a year

WHY ARE YOU INTERESTED IN JOINING AMPLIFY'S PORTFOLIO OF INNOVATORS?

Amplify will give me an opportunity to develop networks with peers, collaborators and potential partners. Further enhance my business development skills in areas of design, models and marketing. Provide me with mentorship from business experts, access and connections to potential investors/funders that could culminate in direct venture funding for our TreeCapital initiative. It will also generate massive visibility for our work on the international platform.

14 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Timothy Chamberlin
Team

Thank you very much for the article, you are doing a really good job. The problem of countries 3 of the world always remains the number one problem. It is very sad that the world is unjust and carries a lot of aggression. I hope that everyone will draw their own conclusions.

View all comments