A total of 23 youth associations in Uganda’s Kole District are beginning the process of registering in two new cooperatives as a strategic way to enhance agribusiness. Formed with support from NCBA CLUSA’s Youth Empowerment Through Agriculture (YETA) project, the groups are taking the next formal step to increase job opportunities in their region.
In partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, NCBA CLUSA has worked with youth in Uganda to form over 800 youth associations—all led by young people—as vehicles for training in business skills, agribusiness and life skills.
The youth who came together recently are planning to form a rural producer organization. The idea is for rural producers to ultimately form a hub at the sub-county level. The youth who are interested in this initiative plan to form two primary cooperatives with membership drawn from youth associations within the YETA project network, a move that will strengthen the youth associations as established points of production.
“This is the first time I am hearing about a cooperative of young people in this region. I have worked with youth groups before but this is the first time I am seeing determined youth that want to grow through cooperatives,” the District Commercial Officer of Kole District said at a meeting to equip the youth associations with basic knowledge on co-op governance, operation modalities and principles as well as the registration process.
Upon completion of registration, the Commercial Officer committed to providing the youth a grinding machine, typical of government investment to support value addition for new cooperatives.
The community is also committed to partnering to support the nascent cooperative. One of the youth association mentors, Odongo Charles, offered access to a 300 metric ton storage facility to accommodate bulk storage.
In the meantime, the youth association members have agreed to hold more meetings to generate funds to support the registration process while the District Commercial Officer audits the account books of the youth associations prior to registration to ensure proper financial management.
The registration process for the two primary cooperatives has already begun; all the youth involved have signed their applications to become members of producer cooperatives.
With support from the YETA project and the District Commercial Office, the young peoples’ ultimate goal is that one day all the youth in Kole District will come under a bigger umbrella called Kole Youth Area Cooperative Society. With partnership support and deepening collaboration among youth in the district, that goal is now within reach.