Elizabeth’s education in rural Uganda was cut short when the fees became too much for her family, and she was forced to drop out of secondary school. Now, the wife and mother of two is determined to achieve financial security for her growing family.
With this goal in mind, Elizabeth joined Educate!’s bootcamp for out-of-school youth, taking advantage of the childcare offered during training to attend with her 15-month-old baby. Prior to participating, the young mother felt ill-equipped to start a business, but through practical learning experiences, she’s developed the skills to not only increase her income but also to address a need in her community.
As locals typically walk eight kilometres to the nearest store, the budding entrepreneur saw an opportunity to open a grocery stand at her home and at a local market in September 2022. She charged slightly higher prices for the convenience and the demand for fresh produce and cooking staples like spices. By her third month, Elizabeth was already beginning to earn a profit.
Through the bootcamp, Elizabeth also cultivated a savings mentality, keeping half of her profits and investing the rest back into her business. She and her husband now retain money for emergencies, helping them to maintain financial stability.
“What keeps me going is that I can now take care of my own needs and support my partner in raising our children.”
Elizabeth’s progress did not stop naysayers from doubting her, predicting she would fail and declaring that women are meant to raise children and take care of their husbands. But determined to grow her business, Elizabeth built a support system.
Encouraged by a bootcamp session on networking, she stays in touch with her Educate! mentor and has forged connections with other young women from the training, a circle she often taps into for advice. Through this network, she also learned about a local village savings scheme.
The support of her husband and fellow Educate! participants has proven essential as she navigates uncertainty. “There was a time when I almost gave up on my business, but one of my friends from the training encouraged me to persevere.”
With the success of her business so far, Elizabeth plans to expand and soon hopes to rent a space at a retail shop where there are more frequent customers, higher profits, and where she won’t need to pack up her products at the end of each day. She is also keen to add more dry goods with a longer shelf-life to her stock.
Hopeful for the future, Elizabeth is proud of her achievements and growing independence. She’s also drawn the attention of other young women in her community eager to improve their livelihoods, further growing the network of emerging entrepreneurs.
Educate! tackles youth unemployment by partnering with youth, schools and governments to design and deliver solutions that equip young people in Africa with the skills to attain further education, overcome gender inequities, start businesses, get jobs, and drive development in their communities. Our goal is to design skills-based, post-primary education and employment solutions which impact youth life outcomes sustainably and at scale.