“The project has given me a lot of baking skills because I knew nothing when I first went to the incubation center. Now I know how to mix the right ingredients for bread, cookies, buns, donuts, and many other things. My advice to the youth is that in Uganda today, it is not all about white collar jobs; you must be creative and have hands-on skills; after the training, I plan to start my own business to earn a living.” says Jolas Joseph, 22-year-old host community youth member.
He is one of 120 youth that have been skilled in the “Skilling women and youth micro-entrepreneurs” project so far, and several of them have since taken on active business ventures.
In fact, some trainees are already supplying supermarkets in Arua, and are looking into expanding their products beyond West Nile.
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Micro-entrepreneurs become micro scale bakers
DanChurchAid (DCA) Uganda and The JP Management Foundation with funding from ‘Fonden Det Nytter’ are implementing partners of the project with an aim to skill 200 women and youth micro-entrepreneurs within the West Nile region.
They receive training to become micro scale bakers – whilst also building local markets through value addition of particularly nutritious Orange Flesh Sweet Potatoes (OFSP), ginger, and turmeric, creating increased local market opportunities for increased income and employment.
What is unique to the new micro-bakers is also that they are using orange sweet potato puree and flour for baking – and also ginger and turmeric are processed into powders and extracts for cooking recipes and other application.
“We believe in action entrepreneurship, we train our beneficiaries, provide them with mentorship, incubation and coaching services to help them turn their entrepreneurial ideas into actual businesses.”John Ariko Okelai – Executive Director, JP Management Foundation
The project has established a micro-enterprise business incubation and innovation center for continued skilling of the women and youth involved and assists young people in developing a unified brand that can help them market their products and increase their visibility, as well as collectively sourcing baking ingredients to benefit from lower costs.
“My advice to the youth is that in Uganda today, it is not all about white collar jobs; you must be creative and have hands-on skills; after the training, I plan to start my own business to earn a living.”Jolas Joseph, 22-year-old host community youth member.
John Ariko Okelai, Executive Director of the JP Management Foundation, who provides the youth skilling and entrepreneurship development training, says, “We believe in action entrepreneurship, we train our beneficiaries, provide them with mentorship, incubation and coaching services to help them turn their entrepreneurial ideas into actual businesses.”
“We are training the youth who bake in the trading centers around Arua and Terego Districts to improve their baking skills because we have established a baking training and business incubation center with modern, high-end production facilities where we train youth to bake, assist them in product development, and provide them with the ability to upgrade their products to a higher level, allowing them access to the elite market” John Ariko Okelai elaborates.
Orange flesh – rich in vitamin and minerals
The project emphasizes the use of the orange flesh sweet potato because it is a stable source of vitamin A, iron, and zinc, all of which are essential nutrients, and the bread produced is fortified with these nutrients by using sweet potatoes as one of the baking ingredients.
Because potatoes provide the sweetening effect, the sugar ratio used is low, allowing customers to eat premium products with less sugar additional nutritional value beyond the bread and cookies they normally consume when they buy.
John Ariko Okelai, adds that, “it is no longer sufficient to train youth and then send them home, nor is it sufficient to provide them with startup kits, but we must help them launch into the market, help them navigate the risks and potholes of the market so that they can compete with the giants even when they are small, and this is where the power of aggregation comes in, this is where the power of bringing together comes in.”
Turning skills into business – that’s the future
According to DCA Uganda Country Director Anders Bastholm Hansen, ” DCA can contribute to the ‘Buy Uganda, Build Uganda’ (policy to promote use of locally manufactured goods and local skills, ed.) program by equipping people with skills, building capacity to use those skills, and turning those skills into real businesses. This is what we do, and this is how we see skilling in the future.”
The Fresh Fruit Nexus project
The project is part of the bigger Danida funded “Fresh Fruits Nexus” work that aims to catalyze sustainable market development and entrepreneurship in the West Nile Region particularly in Arua and Terego Districts, which is home to over one million refugees, by training smallholder farmers to grow certified organic fruit and vegetables for export.
- Partner: JP Management Foundation
- Donor: Fonden Det Nytter