Why Bamboo – And Why Youth Empowerment?
B4G reflects innovative partnerships among public and private institutions working together to mobilize bamboo resources to address critical social needs in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, and Tanzania. We see bamboo as a valuable catalyst for social empowerment, economic vitality, and environmental health.
Our B4G mission:
B4G provides leadership for uniting regional bamboo resources with institutional partnerships to create innovative bamboo industries and products, new workforce and economic development opportunities, and related educational programs, to address critical urban and rural quality-of-life conditions across East Africa.
Local, versatile, fast-growing, and strong – East Africa’s bamboo resources can bring new innovative health care products and technologies, new jobs, new economic development – new beginnings for people and communities seeking improved health care throughout the country.
Every day, across Uganda and East Africa, millions of people, their families, and their home communities face challenges of inadequate access to routine health care, resulting in personal hardship, community disadvantages, lost economic potential, among other avoidable consequences. More specifically, Uganda has the youngest and most rapidly growing population in the world. More than a half of the total population of 34.9M (52%) is younger than 15 years, above Sub-Saharan Africa’s average of 43.2%. 56% is below 18 years while 78% is younger than 30 years (Uganda Bureau of Statistics, 2016).
Youth unemployment stands at more than 65%, with a very high rate of underemployment (Republic of Uganda, 2014). This implies that a large number of youths are working below the poverty line. This situation translates into high youth dependency trends. Moreover, the broad constraints to youth participation in the economic and social affairs include:
- a poor financial sector that limits opportunities for youth to access investment capital, and financial services that are structured to promote enterprise through creativity and innovation; and,
- a social and political structure in the country exclude the youth in decision making processes and relegates them to a position of consumers of the decisions (Republic of Uganda, 2014). The youth lack appropriate skills, have negative attitudes towards certain kinds of work such as agriculture, and have limited access to resources such as land and capital. Hence, they find it difficult to effectively secure self-employment.
In Uganda, a Ministry of Gender and Social Development report (2001) revealed that lack of a comprehensive employment policy, overemphasis on experience and lack of apprenticeship schemes as major drawbacks to youth participation in development and social economic transformation. Uganda’s Vision 2040 considers the youthful population as the springboard for achieving a middle income status, but recognizes that there has to be deliberate policy actions to harness the demographic dividend through job creation and income redistribution.
These and other issues represent opportunities for innovation and action. B4YOU aims to be a contributing resource for empowering youth across Uganda and the East Africa region.
B4YOU will design, deliver, and support training and educational programs to provide youth across Uganda and the region, new opportunities for jobs, careers and public service – and a good life along the way. Through these programs and partnerships, B4G will collaboratively design, manufacture, and distribute bamboo products made of regionally grown bamboo, and made by a regionally-trained and employed workforce.
Our public / private partnerships will create new businesses opportunities throughout Uganda and East Africa, affiliated with B4G and devoted to producing quality bamboo products in support of critical local, national and international needs. Every artifact produced will represent the B4G mission and related system of beneficial impacts.
Our process for designing and delivering training and education programs for local youth is deliberately simple:
- Contact and meet with village and community leaders, local residents, service providers: Listen and learn about their experiences, and reveal how bamboo resource would be of benefit;
- Together, determine types and scope of training and education needs through the community: what are the critical unmet or under-served needs? What resources would make a beneficial difference?
- Introduce and discuss bamboo product prototypes and invite the community to indicate their preferences.
- Mobilize our B4YOU partners to manufacture and deliver identified health products to community ASAP.
- Collaboratively design and deliver innovative training programs and provide reports for continuous quality improvement.
B4G product design and performance will reflect industry best-practices: High-quality, durable components; Designs that honor and best serve diverse health care needs; and, Made in, by, and for citizens throughout East Africa.
Four elements (forming a system of opportunities) define all of our ambitious B4YOU education and empowerment programs:
Our Objectives and General Targets:
- Complete design of training program curriculum
- Hire, train, and support farmers to grow bamboo at specified volumes and conditions
- Train and employ new workers to build, deliver, and service the products
- First delivery of units (TBD) per quarter
- Draft and begin implementation of recording / tracking usage data to coincide with unit deliveries.
Our Action Plan
Beginning in 2016, B4YOU is pursuing the following activities for all of its programs:
- Recruit to create an Interdisciplinary Design Team to provide leadership and guidance on all aspects of the B4H program system;
- Seek and secure financial and material (in-kind) support for implementation of Action Plan;
- Design and launch B4H webpage, social media, and related information materials to support community outreach and engagement;
- Research and reveal status of existing bamboo resources in Uganda and throughout East Africa;
- Collaboratively determine best-practices for new workforce training, design of facilities and manufacturing processes, and local distribution of and support for resulting products.