Uganda’s youth need not just information but also places to shape and grow ideas. LinkmeUg brings you an incubation center under Plan International – SmartUp Factory. Located in Kawempe – Kampala, Gulu, Alebtong, Kamuli and Tororo, this is a project aiming at creating an enabling environment for young people to be empowered to be self employed and change agents in community.
LinkmeUg caught up with Isaac Rwotongeyo, Factory Mentor at the center on what youth benefit from the project.
Isaac: The Smartup project was created as an open space for youth to grow their ideas. The Primary target is the marginalized youth and those who lack access to information. The centre currently targets youth 16-26 but we are widening that to 15 and as high as 28.
The centre was set up to economically empower youth, improve their self esteem, offer a platform to learn, participate and nurture their ideas.
What do youth learn at the centre?
Isaac: We offer a number of options for a youth to pick but Entrepreneurship and Computer basics are a must have. Solar training, graphic and web designing, videography, art Education, life skills, job readiness, graphic designing and outreaches. We also offer apprenticeship and mentorship.
How is this training offered?
Isaac: Smartup factory gives a 3 months training with a 2 weeks orientation in which we introduce the trainees to the different projects available. This is for self identification, setting personal goals and identifying strengths, weaknesses and interests.
Within the 2 weeks, the trainee has identified what interests them most and what they can do. We don’t force a youth to study everything; they can just choose one area and learn that.
Who trains these different programs?
Isaac: We do contact experts in the different fields. When one makes up their mind on what they want, they start the training. We have a morning and afternoon shift as well as short holiday programs.
We encourage youth to interest us in what they want and we will find a mentor for that. We encourage training to be done in English but local languages can be used for those who don’t know English.
What happens after training?
Isaac: We don’t have exams but have mentors who make sure the trainee is learning and following on their program. This mentor then advises on how ready the trainee is to be released.
Does Smart up give youth funds to start businesses?
Isaac: Not at the moment but we link them to different places where their skills can be utilized. Currently, we are planning on finding funds for the most brilliant ideas. Young people must know that it’s not all about funds but the people you meet and the networks you create out of it.
- The center has so far trained about 250 youth, 60% females.
- All youth are welcome [young mothers/fathers, youth at any level of education.]
- Certificates will be given to trainees who take on their work seriously.
- 4 other centers exist in the country, Tororo, Alebtong, Gulu, Kamuli and youth are not charged for this training.
Ttula Road, Kawempe
Opposite Taibah Junior school
120m off Ttula Road.
Tel: +256 773 821767
Fb: Smartup Factory
By Prossy Nyafono
Online Media for youth