Ugandan farmer in her vegetable garden

Irish humanitarian aid agency, GOAL, has launched a transformative programme which will enable 300,000 young rural Ugandans to access dignified and fulfilling work in the agricultural sector over the next five years.

Under the Mastercard Foundation Young Africa Works in Uganda – Markets for Youth Programme, GOAL will target 210,000 young women and 90,000 young men between the ages of 16 and 35 years in 18 Districts in Uganda. This includes 30,000 refugees and 15,000 young people living with disabilities.

In addition, the $24m programme will reach 600,000 people indirectly by partnering with the private sector to expand and adapt their business models to develop new products and services for young farmers.

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Under its wider Young Africa Works in Uganda strategy, the Mastercard Foundation has committed $USD200 million over the next 10 years to support three million young women, men, and refugees in Uganda with access to work opportunities in agriculture, tourism and hospitality, and construction/housing.

Under Young Africa Works, GOAL will work with a range of private sector partners, including small and medium enterprises, corporate businesses, and social investors to adopt a market systems development approach to improve people’s lives.

The programme will support young people in: – accessing financial services and products; – skills training in practice and management of farm enterprises;  accessing and participating in activities in the agricultural market system; and,   collaborating to increase purchasing and influencing power in the agricultural market system.

GOAL CEO, Siobhan Walsh, said today: “We are delighted to partner with the Mastercard Foundation on this important initiative, which will empower hundreds of thousands of young people in Uganda, and provide them with long lasting opportunities. Uganda currently has the second youngest population in the world with over 78% below 30 years of age, second only to Niger’s 83%, according to the United National Development Programme (UNDP). There is important alignment between GOAL and the Mastercard Foundation in supporting communities that have limited access to opportunities, especially women, refugees, and people with disabilities. We look forward to enabling young people to create new futures through access to dignified and fulfilling work.”

Speaking at the programme launch in Kampala Samuel Yalew Adela, Country Head, Uganda, at the Mastercard Foundation, said: “Young people in Uganda are among the most enterprising in the world. With the right support, they are ready to bring that energy and innovation to the agricultural sector—an engine of our economy not just to improve their own lives, but to improve the lives of their families, the well-being of communities, and the resilience of the country.”

The Programme Director for Young Africa Works in Uganda, Netsaalem Gebrie, said: “Agriculture provides the biggest opportunity for employment in Uganda. By applying a market systems development approach, GOAL is aiming to transform the sector, so agriculture becomes an attractive business venture for young women and men all over the country.”

Today’s launch event was attended by senior representatives from the Mastercard Foundation, the Regional Director for GOAL, local and national Government officials, NGOs, development partners, and youth representatives.