Opportunities for All Young Entrepreneurs in Uganda: YEM 2.0 Launch at the Uganda Youth Business Forum

3 August 2017
Ms. Evelyn Zalwango, a co-founder of Awaka Furniture Ltd, sharing her experience of being female carpenter and successful entrepreneur at the Uganda Youth Business Forum.

A great attention was devoted to Evelyn Zalwango during the Uganda Youth Business Forum’s Panel Discussion on the 26th July. Evelyn is a female master carpenter, who established the first furniture export company in Uganda. “Give a woman opportunities to work towards anything,” Evelyn answered when the moderator asked her how to increase employment rate of young women. While women began increasing their presence in the labor market in some countries, women in Uganda and other commonwealth member states still consist a high percentage of youth unemployment rate. “Try to invest them in what they are really good at,” is the key to raise future female entrepreneurs, Evelyn added.

A Key Link between Youth Development in Uganda and Socio-Economic Development

At this pre-event of the 9th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting (9CYMM), organized by the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs (UPFYA), in partnership with UNFPA and AMPROC INC, participants discussed the opportunities and constraints for the young entrepreneurs and suggested ideas for improved business.

The participants agreed that there is a need for business trainings and financial institutions to support young entrepreneurs in Uganda. “Along with increased funding, the government would have to commit to improve and reform the education and training system to examine learning outcomes, productivities, and innovativeness,” said Hon. Ephraim Kamuntu, the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities.

According to the 2014 National Population and Housing Census, 78% of Ugandans are below the age of 30.  With its rapidly growing demand and supply of labor force, Uganda has opportunities to enjoy demographic dividend if the government strategically invests the young population. “A well-educated work force is a key factor to our economic transformation to our country’s prosperity.” Hon. Kamuntu added.

Launch of new initiative; Youth Enterprise Model (YEM) 2.0

For UNFPA, “There is a golden opportunity in our view, to look at population growth positively on the condition that the demographic dividend is harnessed,” said Mr. Alain Sibenaler, UNFPA Representative.

At the closing ceremony of the Forum, UNFPA launched a new initiative, the Youth Enterprise Model (YEM) 2.0. The initiative was framed as a part of the 9th Commonwealth Youth Forum Meeting, aligned with this year’s theme, “Resourcing and Financing Youth Development: Empowering Young People.” YEM 2.0 supports youth livelihoods and innovations to ensure integration of health information and services. "UNFPA has a long rich history of working with young people and adolescents,” said Mr. Sibenaler. “Youth programmes are at the core of our work, because our unique experience tells us that an unhealthy youth is neither productive nor happy.”

YEM 2.0 targets young people at all levels, including the most vulnerable refugee youth, in order to achieve inclusive development and maximize all young entrepreneurs’ potential is fulfilled. The programme will leverage existing initiatives, supported by the Government of Uganda, which will enable young people to have access to skill development, business training, mentorship, health services and information, incubation, financing and resourcing to respond to their development challenges. The approach will explore opportunities of working with academia to institutionalize the model and harness the nation’s long-term development.


By Mina Nozawa