Youth are making waves in Uganda with the second annual Ye! Youth-led Summit happening later this week! Learn more about each of the 6 finalists who will be presenting their enterprises and decide who you think should be the winner.

The Ye! Uganda Local Chapter is proud to be hosting the second annual Ye! Uganda Summit. The Uganda Local Chapter is one of the largest and most active Ye! Local Chapters. The WhatsApp chat boasts more than 200 members and the Facebook page has more than 500 followers. When this Ye! local community organizes a Summit, you know it’s going to be big!

For this year’s Ye! Uganda Summit the Local Chapter has teamed up with the Kafeero Foundation, UN Women Uganda, Uganda Small Scale Industries Association, and Makerere University Business School, just to name a few. The summit will feature expert panel discussions from stakeholders, entrepreneurs, and NGOs alongside breakout sessions on various topics and of course the announcement of the Ye! Uganda - Young Entrepreneur Award. With a plethora of opportunities for networking and exchange, the summit seeks to raise awareness on the challenges that young entrepreneurs in Uganda continue to face and to seek out solutions on how the private and public sector can work together to address them, all with the aim of supporting youth-led enterprise.

The Ye! Uganda Summit will showcase some of the young entrepreneurs to watch in Uganda. The Ye! Uganda - Young Entrepreneur 2018 Award will close out the Summit on Friday the 24th of August 2018.

The esteemed Jury who will decide the winner of this year’s award will be made up of the following experts.

  1. Veronica Namwanje - Executive Director, Uganda Small Scale Industries Association
  2. Diana Ntamu - Director, Entrepreneurship Centre, Makerere University Business School
  3. Madeleine Smith – Communications and Fundraising Specialist, Imuka Ventures

Want to learn more about the finalists and what business solutions they are providing? Let’s take a look at the 6 finalists below. Who is your favorite?

Ye! Uganda - Young Entrepreneur 2018 Award Finalists


Joel Ssimbwa Claude | JOELEX Uganda Limited | Age 30

The Problem: 8 in every 10 people in Uganda don't have a decent toilet, that’s 31.6 million people out of a total population of 39 million Ugandans. 3 in every 5 people in UgandA don't have clean water, that’s 23.8 million Ugandans.

The Solution: JOELEX's mission is to make water and sanitation accessible and affordable for the urban poor in Kampala, Uganda. We build and operate toilets, showers and water technology within slums and markets.

The Vision: In 3 years' time we plan to have scaled to 100 sanitation facilities, each facility capable of handling at least 1000 people per day. With an investment of $250,000 to design, build and install 20 facilities in the first 12 months, we can make at least $2,160,000 in revenue and in another 24 months build another 50 facilities, then another 100 two years after that.

With 100 facilities in operation, serving over 100,000 women, children and youth per month, we shall sustainably and safely be able to dispose of the human waste collected by converting it into cleaner-burning charcoal briquettes, which can replace the unsafe charcoal used for cooking energy. This will in turn help to combat climate change by safeguarding the forests, curb the spread of diseases such as lung cancer, and improve the health and wellbeing of women and children.


Johnmary Kavuma | Upcycle Africa | Age 24

The Problem: Uganda's population is fast growing. Within the next twenty years the population is expected to double and this puts massive pressure on the housing sector. At the same time, conventional construction is still heavily reliant on ordinary building materials, mostly burnt bricks. The burning process of these bricks consumes a lot of wood. This only accelerates the existing challenge of deforestation and climate change. Upcycle Africa located in Mpigi, Uganda has created an innovative solution to tackle this challenge. Upcycle Africa protects the environment and promotes innovation amongst the youths in Uganda by training them in constructing with plastic (upcycling).

Worldwide over 500 billion bottles are produced every year. The major beverage companies in Uganda have decided to maximize their profits instead of protecting the environment by phasing out recyclable glass bottles and replacing them with plastic bottles. This approach generates an amazing amount of ‘unseen’ waste long before it reaches the consumer. According to the National Environment Management Authority, 600 tons of plastic are disposed of in Kampala every day. Presently, when we think of waste we follow a linear model, a product is created, we purchase it and when we’ve used it, we throw it away.

The Solution: Upcycle Africa protects the environment, promotes innovation, and empowers youth. Through upcycling plastic bottles, we train local communities in Uganda, especially disadvantaged youth to protect the environment. Bottles replace environmentally unfriendly bricks that currently contribute to deforestation.

The process for upcycling is as follows: bottles are collected and compacted with soil, making the houses very cost effective and affordable. The buildings are strong, they buffer heat and they are earthquake resistant.

The Vision: In the next 3-5 years, we will have trained over 1000 marginalized youth as constructors and we seek to provide employment for 5000 of them. We will be able to accomplish this based on an increase in awareness and demand for our low cost, sustainable structures.


Ivan Kutegyeka | Baje Products | Age 25

The Problem: It is estimated that between 2010 – 2011 Uganda lost revenues equivalent to USD 249 million by exporting raw hides. Right now, there is an influx of expensive, imported leather shoes coming from neighboring countries. This demonstrates that there is a vast economic opportunity for supporting farmers, though purchasing Ugandan hides and producing Ugandan-made leather shoes. By purchasing the hides and producing domestically, we can lower the costs to consumers and reduce the loss of profits from exporting these raw materials to neighboring countries.

Another problem in Uganda is unemployment. Over 82% of youth under 30 years of age are unemployed. We started a livelihood enhancement project to support youth in finding employment. By producing Baje leather products we can support valuable employment opportunities for Uganda youth and support local farmers in producing Ugandan-made leather goods.

The Solution: To offer high-quality, Ugandan-made, leather shoes which can be sold at a lower price to consumers. Furthermore, we offer youth the practical skills, thereby improving their livelihoods and providing valuable sources of income.

The Vision: To empower over 100 youth with livelihood skills whilst also producing high grade leather products that are sold in Uganda and abroad.  


Jacqueline Mutumba | Digi Health Limited | Age 29

The Problem: In Uganda, 84.4% of the population live in the rural countryside, yet most of the hospitals are built in the urban centers. This leaves a majority of our population with limited access to quality healthcare. To compensate for this, the government and non-profit organizations organize community outreach health camps to ensure that the underserved populations can also access the healthcare services they need. This community outreach program is a vital part of our healthcare system.

A key issue faced by the health workers in these programs is lack of infrastructure to collect and store patient data. Currently, the medical teams that collect medical records and patient information use large books which are sometimes lost or damaged. This loss of data makes it difficult for the hospitals and the government to plan accurately for the drugs and equipment needed by the community health workers. This in turn hinders proper planning by the health facility and the ministry of health who are the custodians of all health-related information.

At the end of each month, the community health workers are required to compile a report using the information in the data collection and submit it to the ministry of health. You can imagine this is a tedious task as workers waste precious time, manually look through a number of books to compile their report. These reports also exhibit a high level of human error.

The Solution: Our solution is Digi Health Mobile. It is a mobile application and web-based platform that digitizes the process of data collection by community outreach health workers. Health workers are now able to access the patient's’ history using the app, allowing them to make an accurate, data driven diagnosis.

With this tool, the community health workers simply go with a mobile device to the health camps, collect the patient information in the application and send it immediately to the hospital database. This app eliminates the tedious process of hand writing in books and transferring the information at the end of each day. Our system also automatically generates monthly reports, saving the health workers time and reducing the level of human error in reporting.

With this app, we are making doctors’ work easier by ensuring the health data collected is accurate, secure and accessible. Digi Health App also allows decision makers to make informed decisions based on reliable reports and statistics/trends. This in turn leads to more informed planning and resource allocation.

The Vision: My ultimate goal for the venture is to have the largest repository for health-related information, trends and statistics, where health organizations can access information to aid planning and support data driven resource allocation. I intend to achieve this by developing systems in the next 3 years that will ensure that health information is captured and stored safely and accurately. All this information will be aggregated and made readily available to authorized decision makers.


Elizabeth Nalugemwa | Kyaffe Coffee Farmers | Age 24

The Problem: Of the world's estimated 1 billion poor people, 70% are women. Women own less than 1% of the world’s titled land. According to the World Bank’s estimation, more than 500 million people throughout the world are dependent on coffee for their livelihood and of that number, 25 million are coffee farmers. Unfortunately, coffee farmers typically live and work in substandard conditions. This is compounded by the fact that they receive only a small percentage of the actual price paid by consumers for their coffee.

Women, who represent a majority of coffee farmers in Uganda, face additional challenges. Aside from the day-to-day struggles women coffee farmers face in order to maintain a respectable standard of living, they also struggle with the gender inequality prevalent throughout the world’s coffee growing regions. They frequently suffer from abuse, neglect and poverty. Women are unable to gain economic, social or political power in their family’s coffee business, or in their communities. In the face of these hardships, they maintain an integral role in ensuring the success of coffee in the marketplace.

The Solution: Kyaffe Coffee Farmers trains smallholder coffee farmers to organically grow and locally process their coffee into a finished branded product, eliminating the middlemen. They sell this product at fair trade prices and gain higher profit margins. We also train women to carry out coffee tours on their own farms. This helps stimulate their self-esteem and offers them an opportunity to explain their work, and play a leading role in their communities.

The Vision: Our vision is to train more than 5000 women to grow and process organic coffee. We expect to see an increase in the number of sustainable smallholder women coffee farmers.

We hope that in the future these fair trade coffee products will become well known for their social and economic impact and that they can be exported. We hope that farmers begin to consumer their own products, thus reducing their dependence on cheap imported coffee.


Juliet Namujju | Kimuli Fashionability | Age 22

The Problem: According to the population and housing census of 2014, Uganda has more than 1.08 million people with hearing impairments and 1.48 million who are physically handicapped. 95% of the disabled or impaired are unemployed. We believe these individuals, the deaf and physically impaired, are qualified. Society however, looks at them as non-productive. This is due to stereotypes which regard them as cursed, abnormal, slow, less productive and non-competent. These stereotypes further expose them to vulnerability and limit them from finding jobs. By excluding them from full participation in social and economic life as well as educational programs, they often fall into severe poverty.

In addition, according to a case study done by the Kampala City Council Authority 28,000 tons of garbage are collected every day in Uganda - 40% remain uncollected. According to National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), 600 tons of plastic waste are poorly disposed of in Kampala every day and 51% is left uncollected. This 51% ends up dumped in drainage and sanitary drainage channels, natural water courses, manholes, underdeveloped plots and roadsides, leading to flooding, the spread of water borne disease that in some cases leads to death of locals and the extinction of water organisms. Other plastics are burnt. Through the burning process, plastics release toxic fumes causing respiratory problems and diseases like asthma and lung cancer. These toxins also damage the O-zone layer, a leading cause of global warming.

The Solution: Kimuli Fashionability creates upcycled fashion and accessories through training and employing persons with disabilities. We blend African fabrics with waste materials.

In the absence of hearing, deaf people often have heightened kinesthetic and visual abilities and create high quality products with great attention to detail. We provide employment opportunities to the deaf and have empowered 25 persons who are now self-sustainable. Our sensitization programs in schools and at fashion shows create awareness and change commonly held misconceptions of disabled peoples, as well on waste. With our slogan “waste is only waste if you waste it,” we also teach Ugandans to see waste differently. 

The Vision: Our vision is to train more than 5000 deaf and physically impaired persons in Uganda and Africa at large by 2025. Through our advocacy and sensitization programs in schools, kid’s camps, and fashion shows, we hope to teach a generation to see waste not as waste but rather something that can add value. We wish to see a reduction in plastic waste disposed of in open places and trenches, and thus reduce the number of outbreaks of water borne diseases and plastic polution.

To learn more about each finalist, check out their Ye! Community profile.

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