By Joyce Namutebi
Young entrepreneurs from Uganda and other East African countries have formed a regional coalition of youth business organisations to encourage young people to start their own businesses.
The Commonwealth Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs-East Africa will also encourage them to develop their enterprise skills and tackle unemployment, the Commonwealth Secretariat has said. It includes 15 organisations from six countries: Uganda, Kenya, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles and Tanzania.
The launching was held in Kigali, Rwanda on Wednesday. For Uganda, the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP), Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development was part of the founding organisations, according to the press release.
YLP is a Rolling Government of Uganda Programme, targeting the poor and unemployed youth in all the districts in the country. The funds are advanced to the Youth Interest Groups (YIG) in form of a Revolving Fund in order to increase outreach and enhance sustainability of the Programme.
Other founding organisations included Kenya Youth Business Trust, Nairobi (Kenya), National Association of Youth Enterprises (Kenya), Rwanda Youth Action Network, Action for Change Initiative, Rwanda, Association for Young Entrepreneurs-Seychelles and Tanzania Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness Centre.
The East African coalition is modeled on similar Commonwealth Alliances in Asia and the Caribbean plus Canada, which bring young entrepreneurs together in their respective regions. It will be supported by the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Youth Division, directed by Katherine Ellis.
She said: “This new network will propel the enormously dynamic and talented young entrepreneurs of East Africa forward as they seek to build their businesses and grow as leaders. By encouraging enterprise and trade among young people within and across borders, the alliance will help to energise local economies, address spiralling youth unemployment and contribute to national development.”
Unemployment among the youth is one of the major problems the east African countries are saddled with.
Speaking at the Alliance’s launch in Kigali, Rwanda’s Minister for Youth and Information and Communication Technologies, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, said his Government is committed to building an enabling environment for young business leaders, the release said.