As the youth unemployment rate in Uganda keeps rising, some of them have made the decision to start their own businesses using practical skills. Despite beginning out in hardship and without any funding, fifteen members of the Youth Achievers Group are producing building and construction materials, according to GEOFREY SERUGO.
The group, which consists of 11 men and 4 women, engages in the manufacture of pavers, louvers, cab stones, wall poles, and other items. Since they are making money from their business while also developing their creativity, they are not considering looking for work.
After receiving their training at COWA Vocational Training Center (VTC), a partner vocational training facility with Wezesha Impact in Kireka, they launched their firm in January 2022. Through the Wezesha Improve Your Business seminars, the group received instruction in money management, record keeping, labor division, and profit sharing.
With 77% of the overall population, youth make up the bulk of Uganda’s population, according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics. In Uganda, there are 7,310,300 youth between the ages of 15 and 24. Uganda’s youth unemployment rate is 83% for those between the ages of 15 and 24.The rigorous educational system, a lack of relevant experience and skills, and other factors allude to the unemployment rate. The Youth Achievers Group received six months of free instruction in concrete mixing and other subjects, according to team leader Tom Tenywa.
“Were we made redundant after the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak and consequent closing of schools? While we waited for the schools to reopen, we had the opportunity to receive training at home. Sadly, schools were kept locked up for a very long time. I got in touch with a few of my training partners, and together we founded the Youth Achiever’s Group.
According to Tenywa, they divided the funds among themselves and utilized them as seed money. They began the process of making pavers by purchasing two bags of cement, a wheelbarrow, and a paver mold.
“We paid Shs 32,000 for each bag of cement, Shs 50,000 for each bag of sand, and Shs 100,000 for each mold. We charge Sh550 for each paver and Sh550,000 for 1000 pavers. Although it was a humble beginning, in just six months, we have already secured three contracts and generated a profit of at least Shs 500,000 each month,” he said.
“In order to take advantage of the market, we want to start manufacturing bricks. We intend to buy large machinery that will aid in the mass manufacture of pavers since we currently produce by hand, the man stated.
Tenywa claimed they have registered their business, known as Kinawataka Technical Construction Company Ltd, on Namataba’s Kirinnya-Bukasa Road in the hopes of obtaining both private and governmental contracts. The organization also has equipment-related aspirations, including purchasing concrete mixers.
The crew struggles with cement and sand pricing variations as well as inclement weather, which hinders their ability to complete their task because they lack shelter.
“Paying rent is still a hardship for us. We pay a rent of Shs. 1,000,000. Another obstacle we face is the fierce rivalry from businesses like Sayan Brothers. They live next door to us. They manufacture in bulk and have large machines. We also face financial difficulties, which have prevented us from obtaining the molds necessary to produce eight and nine-inch bricks, but we remain hopeful that we will eventually do so, Tenywa added.
However, the group takes pride in the Shs 2.2 million contract that they successfully completed and signed with Wezesha. The group members claimed that since the majority of them hadn’t gone back to school, they were all required to do so in order to complete a two-year construction course.
Rahumah Nakato, 20, a native of Mbuya, said the first Covid-19 shutdown compelled her to join a group of teenagers attempting to make building materials since most of the schools were closed to stop the virus’ spread.
“Since we were redundant at home, I had no choice. I told my father when the chance arose, and he gave me the go-ahead to seize it. I can produce a thousand pavers on a good day. Given that the majority of my friends were pregnant, this was a wonderful chance. I applied for a two-year construction course, so I plan to continue classes at Nakawa Vocational Business Institute later this year,” she said.
Nakato, who makes Shs 20,000 a day, urged all girls to engage in any type of profession so long as it involves earning money rather than staying at home and doing nothing.
“We have made some progress, but there are still obstacles, like the rain. Because it occasionally ruins our items, it interferes with our activities. We don’t have a shade structure or a shelter at our manufacturing facility, but we aim to put one up soon and buy more equipment to boost output.
The concept for creating pavers and other materials came to Nsibambi Shadrack, 20 years old, from Kirinya, a Kampala suburb, while he was attending COWA VTC.
“We made the decision to begin producing pavers because there were no contracts. We had two bags of cement and one wheelbarrow of sand at the beginning. We created them, and as support, someone provided us a contract, which we then carried out. We had the notion to launch a construction firm, and we registered it,” he stated.
Nsibambi, who finished his senior year in 2019, claimed he is still committed to returning to school.
“I conserve cash. My mum offered to pay the difference so I could resume my studies. In order to pay for at least one of the two-courses, year’s I want to save money, he remarked.