Youth Empowerment: Call to Action
Youth empowerment means helping young people realise their potential and encouraging them to improve their lives and their world. Guest blogger Opio Peter Lugai has more.
Young people are leaders of tomorrow. This notion has led us to participate in activities that could catapult us to great heights, from politics to business.
The notion fine-tuned our minds to think that our governments will provide us with the job opportunities as we become the leaders of tomorrow. But I think, as the young people of the African continent, we need to rise up and start initiating small projects for ourselves and change our economic statuses in the societies in which we live.
We are lying to ourselves if we think that, by ourselves, we will break the cycle we are in – making chapati, operating small kiosks etc., without governments across the African continent making sure there is peace and security and stability in those places we live, like in Nigeria, where we have Boko Haram, and Somalia banning ‘foreign investors’ from doing business.
We young people need to ask ourselves questions about how much our progress has been curtailed by bad government policies and unfriendly business environments. As young people, have we tried as hard as we can to empower ourselves? I think the answer is no. Are we willing to change our mindsets, and start initiating projects, that will translate into the transformation of our lives?
If the answer is yes, then we are on the road to progress. Here are examples of projects I have seen young people undertake in my country.
In Uganda, the construction industry is booming and so is the demand for fired bricks. A brick costs 200 Uganda shillings (0.058 USD) at the prevailing rate. I have met with a group of young people making a lot of money from what most youths would consider dirty work. For example, one young man made 12,500 bricks in two months. This will earn him 2,500,000 (725 USD) total.
My friend’s piggery is making him a lot of money. Initially, he bought two local piglets, a male and female, each at 30,000 (8.5 USD), totalling 60,000 Uganda shillings (17.1). Now, he has 18 fully grown pigs, each costing no less than 300,000 Uganda shillings (85.7 USD). In other words, he has 5,400,000 million Uganda shillings (1,542 USD) in assets for the 18 pigs. And keeping these animals is not hard at all.
From the above examples, we realise that as young people, we have a lot of potential to make our economic livelihoods turn around. Sometimes, we are waiting for that 500 USD or 1000 USD in start-up funding to make our livelihoods turn around, yet the little we have could have made us more than what we were originally looking for.
For you to succeed as a young person, always set goals – short, medium and long-term ones – and rate your progress at the end of every stage. Surround yourself with productive and positive people and always take on challenges that come your way. Lastly, we should live a responsible life to make our parents proud.
Submitted by Opio Peter Lugai, a civil Servant and seasonal farmer with a strong interest in youth empowerment.
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