Kyusa Incubating Business Startups

Noeline Kirabo – Kyusa Incubating Business Startups

Date grant awarded: March 2019

281 million youth in Africa are unemployed. The youth unemployment rate in Uganda stands at 83% which means 8/10 youth are bound to be unemployed, which is a direct result of a broken system that ill prepares youth for school to work transition. This is further made worse by the presence of a limited number of job opportunities to accommodate the growing numbers of youth entering the job market. The limited jobs present stiff competition for those who quality and even after one qualifies they are often inhibited by corrupt systems where supervisors ask for sexual advances or bribes in exchange for these jobs.

The government has injected millions of money in youth empowerment initiatives and mass entrepreneurship trainings that have yielded very low results because all these programs are focusing on offering an external solution to an internal problem. They offer a set of courses that youth have to choose from thus we have a generation of youth with similar skills that are unable to explore other opportunities. This does not transition youth from job seekers to job creators. It leaves youth in a survival mode where they strive for daily sustenance thus unable to look beyond themselves to create opportunities for others. We believe that work should be a form of self-expression and not just a means of livelihood. We believe that if we get more youth to align their career choices to their passions, they will be able to build successful businesses thus create more employment opportunities for their peers. The key to being successful in any career is an alignment of who you are as a person to the work that you do. Our emphasis is on equipping more youth to become job creators by turning their passions into successful business that are profitable, scalable and have social impact.

When we received the first TPP seed grant in 2015, we successfully piloted the scale up phase of entrepreneurship and employability training for 100 youth. We also learnt through this phase that focusing on employability training isn’t the most viable investment of our limited resources since we have more young people annually who are competing for insufficient job opportunities. In 2017, we decided to focus on creating more job creators by focusing on entrepreneurship training. By the end of 2018, over 850 youth had been equipped with business startup skills. Although we did have a 60% startup rate for young people we had trained, the business mortality rate was also equally higher due to lack of growth support. In Uganda the business mortality rate is estimated at 80% although we have been named among the most enterprising countries in the world. The Kyusa business mortality rate was almost equally to the startup success rate. We realized that small and micro startups need support to standardize systems, develop policies and optimize operations so as to scale up successfully among other things. We therefore piloted a business accelerator class with two social enterprises and three businesses which we now want to scale up to support 80 small businesses develop structures and systems to enable them scale up.

The grant will be used to train and support 40 small and micro entrepreneurs that have been in operation for at least six months to grow and scale their businesses so they can increase revenue, attract more business and potential investors as well as create more employment opportunities for their peers. It costs $50 per entrepreneur to go through the three months’ business accelerator program which is then followed by six months’ intensive follow up. The remaining $1,230 will be used to train and support 82 youth to successfully start new businesses. The unit cost of training a startup entrepreneur is $15. The business startup training program takes one month of training followed by three months of intensive follow up to enable youth work through the various stages from business idea validation, prototyping, market research, customer discovery, branding and market linkage as they fully roll out.

We are grateful for this larger follow up award because it is going to enable us scale up a new phase and to learn from it so we can perfect it. We are honored to have TPP walk this journey with us and the young people that we equip. We feel that TPP is a mother holding our hand through our different developmental stages. Thank you so much for believing in us and continuing to support us to grow!

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