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DREAM NO SMALL DREAMS: YOUNG AFRICA WORKS UGANDA LAUNCH

Yesterday is a day I will never forget. It was a good day. I was lost for words. I am witness to the fact that dreams come true, not some of them – all of them.

Before I tell you all about it, join me in congratulating our partners the Mastercard Foundation for such a bold vision of creating 30 Million jobs in Africa and 3 Million in Uganda through their new Young Africa Works strategy.

About the dreams, it all started in my mind, alone, afraid, crazy perhaps, but no one could believe me. In most cases, I too couldn’t believe it was possible. My first company was called IDEA literary standing for

  • Innovation
  • Drives
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Achievement

That was was in 2011. So yes, its taken 10 years to become this overnight success.

Yesterday we launched Young Africa Works Uganda; this big bold vision of creating 3 million jobs for young Ugandans at Motiv, which is growing to become East Africa’s largest maker space.

But that’s not the most important story today.

Under Young Africa Works, The Innovation Village launched additional innovation hubs across the country, because entrepreneurs are not just in Kampala.

In Gulu, I met Jacob, who I asked – why aren’t you in Kampala like the rest of your friends? His response, “someone has to stay behind to build our community”. Jacob is now our community manager and he led us to formerly the largest bar in town and we set up now the largest destination for entrepreneurs in town.

We crossed over to Jinja, and set up in a 1930 building; a challenge to the young people of Jinja to rebuild their town. I met Prossy, a single mother who was inspired and took the stage to pitch with tech entrepreneurs her banana selling business in her local language. Nothing could get in the way of the future she sees for her daughter.

In Mbarara, I met Ssegawa, officially the brightest 26-year old I know. He dropped out of a 6-year scholarship opportunity from the best school in the land because his needs were not met. He is now studying aeronautical engineering and has already designed his first drone.

And then COVID-19 happened, we tried to stay home, stay safe but that is not the spirit of young Uganda; the most entrepreneurial country in the world.

– Our COVID challenge attracted over 60 innovators- We are working to put over 4,000 SMEs online- We challenged young people in fashion and over 200 of them responded and are on the path to make over 100,000 medical masks

– Our friends in the Ghetto have built their own marketplace and community centre.

Through The 97 Fund we’ve finally been able to invest in over 5 tech startups. Another dream, I had no idea I will live to see.

Every generation has a revolution, the revolution of this and the next generation is entrepreneurship. With Young Africa Works, we are armed, ready and already executing.

Here on these streets, young people are given permission to dream. Every day this community will bring together 1,000 young people making the future of the Ugandan fashion industry, food, wood, metal, film media, entertainment and tech industry.

Under Young Africa Works our vision is simple, to MAKE UGANDA THE BEST PLACE TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR.

We do this through ensuring they have access to capital, partners, market, business development

As we do this our commitment is to create over 300,000 job opportunities for young people in the process. But we are not alone, I am excited to be part of this network of other partners that we are working with to ensure one program and one success. I looked in amazement as Desire a young Agriprenuer explained her craft with one of our partners Gudie Lesiure Farm.

In a special way I celebrate you Samuel; for your leadership. You believed even when there was no reason to believe

Today as we celebrate the young people of Uganda. Every Jacob, Prossy, Ssegawa I bid you all “now is the time” let’s not ask what our country can do for us, let’s instead ask what we can do for our country.

About the dreams, it all started in my mind, alone, afraid, crazy perhaps, and no one believed me, in most cases, I too couldn’t believe it was possible.

Start your dream today, and please dream no small dream.

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Written by CK Japheth

Building a moonshot factory... Team Leader at IDEA. Co-founder at The Innovation Village. Inspiring a nation of makers at MoTIVUG

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