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East African economy

Young entrepreneurs are basis for Africa’s economic growth

by Gloria Laker Aciro Adiiki


Private enterprises are beginning to play a bigger role in east Africa: Even with limited financial capital, more businesses run by young entrepreneurs are springing up. These businessmen don’t only want to make money. They create jobs too, and they are the countries’ best taxpayers, thus boosting the economy.

Ayugi is a successful cassava trader in Amuru district in northern Uganda. The young woman spent her teenage years in a camp for internally displaced persons, but now she creates wealth and jobs through her business. Cassava entrepreneurs are experiencing an increase in demand, because high-quality cassava flour is used in bakeries, paint factories and pharmaceutical industries all over east Africa.

Dickson Musoke is another example of successful entrepreneurship in Uganda. The information technology businessman started as a barber while at university and is now a role model to many youth.

In Uganda, the number of young entrepreneurs has increased, since the government introduced the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP) in 2014, offering 10 million shillings UGX ($ 5,000) as a start-up fund to youth groups across the country.

Opportunities for young Africans were at the focus of the recent Global Entrepreneurs Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, the first one in Sub-Sahara Africa. It was attended by US President Barack Obama, who urged leaders to provide a secure environment for businesses. He said that challenges like limited access to capital make it harder for people to make a good start, “even much harder for women and young people in communities which do not have doors to entrepreneurship opportunities”. Obama pledged $ 1 billion of support for African entrepreneurs with a focus on women and young people.

“This is really good news”, says cassava trader Ayugi. “If I could access these funds, I would buy a cassava processing machine. This way I could process my cassava and increase my income through grinding for other traders.”

With the east African integration progressing, facilitating trade among the members of the East African Community (EAC), there is a brighter future for entrepreneurs in the region. Uganda and Kenya agree already on promoting young businesses. Ugandan youth minister Evelyn Annite vows to foster self-reliance among youths in order to eradicate poverty. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta stresses the need to support the development of young entrepreneurs, saying that “the future and hope of African economic growth is placed in the hands of entrepreneurs.“

Gloria Laker Aciro is a former war reporter, now heading the Peace Journalism Foundation of East Africa. She lives in Uganda.
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @GloriaLaker

Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2015-08-25

Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP)


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