Heifer International, a global nonprofit dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger, has partnered with the Mastercard Foundation, a Canadian charity organization. This dynamic collaboration seeks to broaden access to agribusiness opportunities for over 250,000 ambitious youth in Uganda, igniting a beacon of hope in the heart of East Africa.
At the helm of this initiative is Heifer International’s visionary ‘Stimulating Agriculture for Youth Employment (SAYE)’ project, spanning from 2023 to 2029. The project, focused on the Busoga sub-region in eastern Uganda, specifically targets nine districts, including Mayuge, Jinja, Kamuli, Iganga, Bugweri, Kaliro, Buyende, Namayengo, Namutumba, Bugiri, and Luka.
The SAYE project aims to empower young minds aged 16 to 35 by enhancing their skills, broadening market access, and providing inclusive financing opportunities across pivotal sectors such as poultry, horticulture, oilseed, dairy, and beef value chains. In a bid to future-proof these endeavors, the project will also champion diversification of value chains, integration of tech solutions, and the adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices.
Heifer International’s President and CEO, Surita Sandosham, shared the organization’s lofty goal, stating, “Our goal is to transform the market ecosystem in Busoga in a way that drives inclusion and economic resilience for the many young people who currently have trouble securing dignified and fulfilling work.”
The SAYE project, with an impressive $48 million backing, builds upon the success of Heifer International’s East Africa Youth Inclusion Program (EAYIP), a previous collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation. EAYIP, between 2016 and 2022, generated 33,000 new jobs for over 25,000 young individuals, leveraging an agri-hub model to enhance access to technical, business, and financial products and services.
Under SAYE, Heifer International will spearhead the establishment and fortification of youth- and farmer-led agri-hubs. Meanwhile, local partners will concentrate on business incubation, skills training, promotion of micro, small, and medium enterprises, and enhancement of access to financial services.
Adrian Bukenya, the Country Director for Uganda at the Mastercard Foundation, emphasized the foundation’s commitment to creating opportunities for Ugandan youth through the Young Africa Works strategy. He expressed a lofty goal of enabling 4.3 million Ugandan youth, especially young women, to access dignified and fulfilling work by 2030 through initiatives like SAYE, equipping them with the skills and resources needed to engage in various aspects of the agricultural value chain.
Since its inception in Uganda in 1982, Heifer International has been delivering tangible change, supporting over 6 million families across the country through agriculture and environmentally sound economic development programs. Presently, Heifer Uganda operates in 19 districts across the Central, Eastern, West Nile, and Northern regions, marking a lasting legacy of empowerment and sustainability. The partnership with the Mastercard Foundation is poised to amplify this impact, cultivating a new era of agricultural prosperity for the vibrant youth of Uganda.
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