President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has promised to fund youth-led innovations in Uganda.
“I will have a meeting with your leaders so that we can discuss the funding for your innovations. Of course, there’s already money in Uganda Development Bank (UDB), we are putting that money there but why can’t the youth access it?” he noted.
President Museveni made the assurance on Tuesday while officiating at the 4th Youth Business Forum and Expo held at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds. The forum ran under the theme: “Building Sustainable Strategic Partnerships and Policy Frameworks for Supporting Youth Innovation and Startups.”
The President affirmed that as the government, they will have to offer all the necessary support to the young innovators as long as their innovations have a clear business perspective.
He also expressed gratitude to the youth for waking up and starting to come up with ideas and solutions to Uganda’s problems.
“I’m glad that you have now woken up and you are not going to be like your ancestors who were asleep and that is what the National Resistance Movement (NRM) has been trying to do right from the time of the bush; to wake our people up. We said you people you can do it,” President Museveni said.
“This is the way to go, it is not always politics oyee.. No, let us solve problems especially problems of poverty and lack of jobs,” he added.
The President also urged that since the majority of Ugandans have woken up, they should now understand themselves, the society and the natural environment and how they can use it to have a better quality of life.
“The moment you wake up and understand the two; understanding yourself and your natural surroundings and understanding society, then now you need to focus on economics. What determines economics? Because what you do should be profitable in order to be sustainable,” he stressed.
“With economics, you should start with human needs like food growing, processing and storage. You cannot go wrong there If you are anywhere in that chain. The second human need is clothing. The next one is shelter. I’m happy the young people have woken up, they are making construction materials. Another need is health. This is a huge area, we call it the pathogenic economy starting with vaccines, and disinfectants, among others. It’s a huge business. Then you come to mobility. This is an important human need. People in the past used to walk on foot and now they are moving around in vehicles. Then there’s security. When Africa lagged behind on gunpowder, that was our biggest mistake. We are not going to lag behind again, we are now making our own weapons and we shall continue improving.”
President Museveni further advised the youth innovators and entrepreneurs that as they use science to solve the problems of society, they need to cluster their products and then check on their demand within Uganda, Africa and globally, before assuring them of a common market in Africa.
“We had to work from 1980 at the Lagos Conference. This had been 20 years since independence; our leaders woke up and said if we don’t create one African market, we shall never get out of poverty because you can have a continent with a lot of natural resources but if it is badly organised economically and politically, it will never get out of poverty. We started with COMESA, the East African Community and now we are talking of the African common market,” the President disclosed.
“Look at Latin America, it has got more natural resources than the United States, but you watch on TV that people from South America are walking on foot to go to the United States because of the misery in Latin America. Latin America is disorganised politically and economically.”
At the same event, President Museveni launched the Youth and Business Magazine.
The European Union Ambassador to Uganda, H.E Jan Sadek stated that the EU recognizes the importance of youth entrepreneurship and innovation and is committed to supporting the youth in Uganda towards economic empowerment.
“We believe that by empowering young people to start and grow their own businesses, we can collectively address some of the most pressing challenges facing Uganda such as unemployment and poverty and move towards sustainable economic development,” Ambassador Sadek assured.
“The youth are the most valuable resource of any nation since they possess a very unique capacity for fresh ideas, untamed creativity and boundless energy. This potential is the driving energy of progress and development; it is the cornerstone upon which the future of any nation is built,” he added.
H.E Sadek also advised the youth to collaborate with their peers, share knowledge and continue to seek support from their mentors and organisations in order to champion the course of entrepreneurship.
“I want to address the youth of Uganda, you are not alone in this journey I would like to say, you are part of the global community, and the EU stands beside you in the pursuit of a brighter future,” he added.
The Minister of State for Investment and Privatization, Hon. Evelyn Anite commended President Museveni for the excellent work he has done for Uganda that has enabled the country to remain stable for the last 37 years.
“Your Excellency for that, we are sincerely grateful to you as citizens of this country, especially the young people,” Hon. Anite asserted.
“Mr. President, you have been able to support the young people, it is for you that the young people have representation in politics from the village level up to the national level. Uganda has been a ground for learning for many countries due to its involvement of young people in the development of the economy. Mr. President, you have supported the young people to come into the development of the economy through different programs like Youth Livelihood Fund, Youth Capital Venture Fund and when Covid-19 hit the economies globally, you introduced the SME Recovery Fund,” she added.
The Minister also thanked the President for initiating the Industrial Zonal Hubs under State House aimed at skilling the youth and empowering them to become better citizens.
The National Female Youth Member of Parliament and Chairperson of the Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs, Hon. Phiona Nyamutoro lauded the President for supporting the youth in the country and assured him that as leaders, they will continue building the entrepreneurship spirit among young people so that the economy thrives.
“Research shows that 38 percent of Ugandans aged 18 to 34 are engaged in some sort of entrepreneurship activities, this is compared to the 36 percent of Ugandans who are above the age of 35. Your Excellency, this only means that young people are more oriented to business than the other older generation and this is because the young are willing to take risks, innovate and learn,” Hon. Nyamutoro said.
“This year’s business forum brings together hundreds of young people involved in manufacturing, innovation and economic production,” she added.
The event was also attended by Youth MPs, government officials, young entrepreneurs and innovators, among others.