GOAL’s Youth Learning Conference kicks off

The Young Africa Works in Uganda in conjunction with the Markets for Youth Programme have Tuesday June 28, 2022 launched a Youth Learning Conference event held at Mestil Hotel in Kampala.

Running under the theme Market Systems Development in Action: Unlocking the Youth Potential in Agriculture is aimed at marking the second year of the five-year Programme of skilling and empowering young people.

The Markets for Youth Programme, managed and delivered by GOAL Uganda in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation and implementing partners, aims to create dignified and fulfilling work in the agricultural sector for 210,000 young women and 90,000 young men between the ages of 16 and 35 years in 18 Districts in Uganda. This includes 30,000 refugees and 15,000 young people living with disabilities.

The program has been running since June 2020 and held the Learning Conference as a platform to share successes and learnings from the last two years of implementation and obtain stakeholders’ insight on how to adapt the Programme during the next phase of implementation to the best effect.

Since the launch of the program in 2020, over 23,000 young people have been reached and 10,200 have been engaged with. These young people have been offered different services including access to finance, skills training, access to the agricultural market system and opportunities for collaboration and engagement to increase their purchasing power.

5,500 of the young people that have been engaged are young women, while 730 are young people living with disabilities and 700 are refugees/displaced people.

The conference saw some of the young people who have benefitted from the engagement with the program shared their compelling success stories and learnings with the stakeholders.

Speaking on behalf of the Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Mr. Deus Muhwezi,the Director of Agricultural Services at the Ministry, praised the programme for its effectiveness in improving market systems to create dignified and fulfilling work for young Ugandans engaging in agriculture.

“Encouraging and supporting youth in agriculture is one of the several strategies that government has adopted to address youth unemployment. Strategic interventions to support youth employment in agriculture are aligned to; Ensuring an enabling environment for youth employment in agriculture, supporting youth oriented agricultural extension, improving youth education and learning, Supporting youth entrepreneurship and adaptation to and mitigation of agribusiness risk and uncertainties.

There is broader acknowledgement that young people are dynamic, enterprising and very innovative. MAAIF is more than willing to collaborate with stakeholders like GOAL to implement programs that support the youth to realize their potential in the agricultural sector. Feel free to reach out to us at every step of the way,” Mr. Muhwezi said.

The event also attracted physical and virtual attendance from Mastercard Foundation representatives and Young Africa Works partners, Government stakeholders at national and local Government level, young people in work associated with the program, NGOs implementing agriculture programs and Market Systems Development (MSD) approaches, private sector partners, CSOs, development partners, the donor community, and staff from the GOAL Head Office in Dublin, Ireland among others.

In his keynote speech, Adrian Bukenya, the Country Head of Mastercard Foundation Uganda, said, that, “Despite the pandemic, we have seen commendable progress in this partnership, which is represented by thousands of young now in work. At the same time, we still have a bold target: we set out to reach 300,000 young people, and primarily young women, through this collaboration. To get there, it’s important to periodically take stock, tease out what is working—and not working—so that we can continually iterate and improve on the program model. For the Foundation, these learnings are not just important for our partnership with GOAL, but for our overall Young Africa Works strategy in Uganda, which aims to enable 4.3 young people to access dignified and fulfilling work by 2030.”

Speaking at the Conference, Netsaalem Bahiru Gebrie, the Programme Director of the Markets for Youth programme, said, “The programme has brought together a good number of permanent players in the agricultural market system. These are the community, the private and public sector. As we speak, these actors are providing financial services, skilling, access to inputs and technology and markets to over 30,0000 young women, men, refugee, and people with disability. Our aim is through the market players to engage 300,000 youth in commercial agriculture by 2025 that means there would be a tremendous increase in agriculture outputs in Uganda as the same time providing dignified and fulfilling work to the youth.”

Jennifer Williams, the Country Director of GOAL Uganda explained that,”Over the last 2 years, the Markets for Youth Program has registered significant success and learnt lessons along the way which we have leveraged to improve program adaptation.

Since learning on the program is an ongoing endeavor, in these 2 days we bring the youth, all program implementing partners, Government stakeholders and other development partners to jointly reflect and learn from the program implementation thus far and chart a way forward together to improve program quality as well as getting the youth into dignified and fulfilling work at a greater scale in the next program implementation phase.”

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