Youth across Uganda have hailed the MTN Foundation Youth Skilling Program facilitated by MTN Foundation and Ubunifu Systems for spearheading youth transformation in society.
Launched in December 2020, the MTN Foundation Youth Skilling program was created with the goal of empowering youth to spur innovation and creativity in order to solve challenges in society. 100 youth were selected to participate in the training which was executed virtually due to the impact of the pandemic.
Mohamed Mukalu is one of the youths that was trained in the program and also serves as the President of the alumni council today.
Mukalu runs a non-government organization dubbed +256 youth platform, dedicated to empowering youth in Iganga. Prior to joining the MTN Foundation Youth Skilling Program, the young man had a limited scope of knowledge on how to run a self-sustaining NGO. He also had ambitions of his own, which entailed starting up a business. However, Mukalu was always limited by his lack of capital to set up shop, a challenge he overcame during the training program.
“While the training captured some of the things taught at the University, it offered a much more practical approach for instance in finance, we were taught about how to market a concept in the search for capital funds for entrepreneurship. I learned how to use what I have to get to where I want to be, for example, I have a house but I did not think I could use it as an office and start my work until the program opened my eyes,” he explains.
Owing to the skills attained at the program, Mukalu is now empowered to further uplift the youth in his area.
“During the program, I realized that cash handouts cannot work in the charitable work we do, so now at +256, we have taken up carpentry to ensure the organization is self-sustainable,” he said.
Similarly, an extremely ecstatic Emmanuel Sebiina could not hide his amazement at how much he learned at the MTN Foundation Youth Skilling Program.
“I had a very wonderful experience at the program. I learned a lot of things but my favorite module was digital marketing and online collaboration. I learned how to use the zoom during the wake of the pandemic, using programs such as team viewer which have helped me improve productivity at my workplace,” he narrates.
Virtually executed youth training
In its first year which ended in December 2021, the MTN Foundation Youth Skilling Program functioned mainly on digital and technical business skills aimed at creating successful youth entrepreneurs.
Bruno Oluka, the team lead at Ubunifu Systems, the implementing partners in the program, said 100 participants were chosen from a pool of nearly 2000 applications.
“Among the 100, we had 44 women and 45 men between 19-45 years of age to ensure that the program was very inclusive. We also had persons of disabilities take part,” he said further explaining that the program facilitated the participants with data and airtime to ensure convenience while attending the virtually executed program.
The participants underwent three phases including the International Certificate of Digital Literacy which is recognized in various countries around the world. Under this certificate, the youth were taught about cyber security, digital marketing, and data analytics.
The second phase centered on technical skilling which included finance, accounting, human resources, and sales among others. The final phase covered incubation and pitching.
“We believe these skills are very essential for youth entrepreneurs who need to understand how to integrate the skills into their businesses for sustainability,” Oluka explained the rationale behind the choice of module for the skilling program.
Owing to the skills attained at the program, Mukalu has been approached to set up the youth secretariat by the Busoga Muslim Community, a position he believes will allow him to have a lot of positive impact on youth in the region.
Mukalu lauded MTN Foundation and Ubunifu systems for uniting youth towards a developmental goal and equipping them with skills to further their entrepreneurial aspirations.
Bryan Mbasa, the senior manager of MTN Foundation said he is proud that the program has achieved so much success in its first year.
“The MTN Foundation Youth Skilling Program is an embodiment of MTN’s pillar of youth empowerment. The program has transformed the youth with particular focus on altering their attitudes from a negative perception to opening them up to a world of possibilities which is the attitude of entrepreneurs,” he noted.
Mbasa also added: “We are glad to have made such an impact on the youth and hope that they will now transfer the skills to their peers to curb unemployment and innovate solutions to address challenges in society.”