Advancing Youth Entrepreneurship (AYE)

This project was a three-year intervention which targeted marginalised and disadvantaged youth in northern Uganda. The intervention aimed to reduce career criminality and improve sustainable livelihoods of this cohort of youth in the Lango and Acholi sub-regions through entrepreneurship and life skills development. The intervention empowered the youth prison inmates and ex-prisoners to become independent, thus enabling them to start and manage their own enterprises, which did not only create income and employment for themselves, but also for other youth in the community, and addressed social issues.

With support from Caritas Switzerland and in partnership with the Uganda Prisons Service, the AYE project provided an opportunity for the vulnerable youth who suffered tremendously from a decade of insurgency in northern Uganda, which forced most of the inhabitants into internally displaced people’s (IDP) camps. As a result of a tenacious dependence syndrome, the youth had limited alternative sources of livelihood, forcing them to commit crime. In addition, the socio-economic reintegration of the prison inmates into the community targeted dynamic risk factors associated with recidivism and specific initiatives focus on the specific challenges facing offenders, including substance abuse, unemployment and job creation. The project, therefore, aimed at imparting entrepreneurial skills to the youth prison inmates and ex-prisoners, helping them establish small businesses and improving on the chances of community acceptance of ex-prisoners as they try to reintegrate.

The AYE project was originally piloted through the Youth Entrepreneurship Enhancement Project (YEEP) in 2014, which informed key intervention strategies. The project was then rolled out in four districts of northern Uganda, namely Gulu, Lira, Kitgum and Pader. The target groups of the three-year intervention were male and female youth prisoners and ex-prisoners.