Ugandan Youths win $5,000 at IOM Business Incubation Event

Gloria Akidi presents during the IOM incubation week in Nairobi. @IOM

By Richard M Kavuma

Two Ugandan students were among the winners at an IOM business incubation workshop this month, leaving the Kenyan capital Nairobi with grants worth USD 5,000 between them.
Ms Gloria Akidi from Arua Technical Institute Ragem, and Mr Saimoni Mukulu from Rwentanga Farm Institute in Mbarara, each won USD 2,500. They were among 10 Ugandan technical/vocational students at the incubator, who competed against counterparts from Kenya and Ethiopia. 
The 5-day event was organized by IOM’s Better Regional Migration Management programme, funded by Britain’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). It was aimed at bringing diaspora businessmen/women together to support entrepreneurship skills development among young people in eastern Africa. Uganda’s students were accompanied by their instructors and two members of the Ugandan diaspora.
In August 2023, Uganda hosted the launch of the Regional Ministerial Forum on Migration (RMFM) Thematic Working Group on “Diaspora Women in the Private Sector Leading Humanitarian and strategically engage with their countries of origin. Several of the women engaged to present asked IOM staff “what’s next?”  Noting that entrepreneurship was one of the under-served aspects, the BRMM project organized the incubator so that Diaspora can leverage their expertise to support development in countries of origin. 
The students’ week started with an entrepreneurship training and ended with them making/refining their business plans and pitching their ideas to a panel of judges. A mentorship platform will also be created to connect youth and diaspora experts who will serve as mentors.
Among the truly impressive presenters was Mr Mukulu from Lyantonde.  His business idea, inspired by a setback that befell his father, was about manufacturing and selling organic fertilizers cum pesticides for his community in Kaliiro, Lyantonde district. He proposed to use materials like goat and rabbit urine, cow dung, chicken/goat droppings and leaves and vegetables to make a two-in-one organic fertilizer/pesticide called GreenGuard Grow Promax.  
“Around 2017, my father planted around 4.5 acres of coffee, but he used artificial fertilizers and the coffee lasted just four years and the trees started drying up, which set my father back. He then had to start replanting,” Mukulu says, lamenting about a widespread use of artificial fertilisers that cause environmental pollution that affects productivity. 
Asked how he felt on being declared a winner, Mukulu said “I was extraordinarily happy because I had been dreaming of it; that is huge money to me, and I feel it can act as a start-up to my key to success”.
His plan is to start producing his fertilizers and sell them to farmers. In case they do not have cash, he can sell to farmers on credit and they pay him in instalment or in kind after harvesting.

Saimon Mukulu
Ugandan Saimon Mukulu makes a winning pitch @IOM

Ms Gloria Akidi, now awaiting her graduation with a national certificate in building construction from Ragem, proposed to recycle and transform plastic waste into new products - to address environmental pollution. 
“There is a lot of non-biodegradable plastic waste being disposed of anyhow all over the country; so I wanted to collect this waste, because recycling is not common in the northern region yet the need is very big,” says Akidi, an orphan Lira district.
She admits that when she first presented her idea, she was nervous. During the training on proposal development, she tried to encourage herself to at least make the eight finalists.
“To find out that I was the best from Uganda and one of the best overall, I could not believe it. It is the best unexpected thing to have happened in my life,” she says.
Akidi’s budget was UGX 61 million (about USD 16,000), and although her grant is a fraction of that, she says she will discuss with her instructors and come up with a smaller-scale, related business idea.
Speaking from a construction site where she is doing her internship, Akidi says her dream has always been to be a top civil engineer. “But now I feel that in addition to engineering, I can also be one of the best businesswomen around.”
Among the instructors who accompanied the students was Ms Annet Kyarisiima, head of the Agro-processing department at Rwentanga Farm institute. She says the networking and entrepreneurial training are likely to have a lasting impact on the youth.
“The strategies of how to choose the right business and how to market can often become a problem,” Ms Kyarimpa said. “But with that kind of training, they will prosper because they now have both the production component as well as the well as the marketing side. So, they are good to go.”
Speaking about the benefits of programme, the head of the Ugandan contingent in Nairobi, Michael Nyakojo from Mubende Technical Institute, also stressed the importance of entrepreneurial skills. In addition, he said, learners also got soft skills necessary in the world of work, as well as networking with other like-minded people to help them improve.


For more information / media enquiries, please contact IOM Uganda Public Information Officer, Richard M Kavuma. Email: and Tel +256 312 263 210 / +256 772 709 917.
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