Monthly Archives: April 2019

I can do auto mechanics, me

“It is very unusual to see ladies working in motor vehicle mechanics and I really want to encourage more to do so that’s why I applied for the training”. At just twenty-two years old Apiya Amina already describes her decision to acquire skills in motor vehicle mechanics as an example of women’s ability to take on a job that is mostly done by men. Last year she successfully graduated from the training in motor vehicle mechanics and is now enrolled in traineeship at a vehicle repairs and maintenance workshop in Adjumani that is managed by AAH Uganda. The training she received was made possible by the skills development and entrepreneurship training project funded by Enabel and implemented by the Uganda programme of Action Africa Help International.


View of the vehicle maintenance and servicing workshop in Adjumani

Apayi married young after pulling out of school due to lack of fees. Her father passed away while she was still at the mid-level of secondary schooling and her mother could not afford the fees to enable her complete the remaining levels of schooling. So, she got married and relocated some one hundred kilometers from her mother’s home in Koboko to her husband’s place in Adjumani, a town in the west nile region of Uganda and the site of the district headquarters. As a house wife she spent most of her days doing housework. One day she heard about a call for application for the training through an advertisement in the local media outlets put out by AAH Uganda, which she applied for and got selected.

Through the training she learnt general and routine automotive servicing, a skill that now enables her earn some money from jobs she gets outside traineeship. “Before the training I had to depend on my husband’s money but now I’m able to earn something to buy groceries for us from the jobs I’m called to do”. While some locals find Amina’s ability to fix vehicles amusing others encourage her efforts by recommending her for work to their relatives and friends. The change of fortune has motivated her to advance her skill through further training to obtain diploma and degree certification in motor vehicle mechanics, and she hopes to find an opportunity in future that will enable her achieve this ambition. Currently, she is learning to drive through a driving course she attends that her husband agreed to pay for.


Amina works with a colleague to service a car at the workshop in Adjumani

The skills development and enterprise training is a component of the European Union Trust Fund (EUTF) for the Support Programme for Refugee Settlements in Northern Uganda (SPRS-NU) that is addressing the roots of destabilization, forced displacement and irregular migration, by promoting economic and equal opportunities, security and development. The aim of the trainings is to enable youth, women and girls from the refugees and their host communities obtain the skills needed to find or to create a job in the settlement economy or in preparation of the economy back home on return. The project is aligned to SDG number 2 which supports interventions in food and incomes security targeting the most vulnerable individuals and groups.

Self-help group of refugees from Kakuma recognised by the tony elumelu foundation entrepreneurship programme

Among the 3,050 entrepreneurs recently selected for the latest cycle of the Tony Elumelu entrepreneurship programme is Peter Diing Manyang, the Executive Director of a small self-help group of some twenty two refugees from Kakuma refugee camp, which has been lending small amounts of money to start-ups and small business in the camp. The self-help group was started early last year by some refugees from South Sudan and registered with the Ministry of East African Labour and Social protection as Wunda Youth Group. Based at Hong Kong market in Kakuma 1 refugee camp, the group provides short-term loans at competitive interest rates to business in the camp seeking financing to cover the daily expenses of running their business. The financing facility for the group was provided by the Kenya programme of Action Africa Help International through a Revolving Loan Fund set up to address lack of access to credit from formal finance institutions and limited provision of financial services to refugees at Kakuma camp.

“We heard about the call for applications for the 2019 Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme via email from AAH-K and we applied”, Diing the Managing Director of the Wunda Youth Group recalls the decision that made him and the group achieve pan-african recognition beyond Kakuma camp, a refugee camp administered by UNHCR located on the outskirts of Kakuma town, which is the headquarters for Turkana West District of Turkana County in Kenya. Diing received primary and secondary education at the camp and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Kenyatta University, one of Kenya’s largest public higher education institution. He is a teacher by profession with good skill in chess demonstrated by leadership that enabled the university chess team win several competitions at the national level during his time as captain of the team while in campus. Leadership that he also applies to the group that he started with others early last year by pooling together individual contribution of 180,000 Kenya shillings to set up shop.

Wunda Youth Group received 200,000 shillings from the Revolving Loan Fund to scale up operations which they lent to some 20 small businesses in Kakuma 1 that met the requirements for short-term loaning. Group members received training on assessing creditworthiness at the start of their engagement with the facility from AAH-K, which they applied in the selection of loanees resulting in a well performing loan portfolio. Having succeeded with their first round of loanees they now plan to expand the business into other sections of the larger Kakuma camp using the 5,000 dollar grant they’ll receive from the TEF programme. Through the Revolving Loan Fund members of the group were also trained on business and financial management skills as well as mentorship on running business successfully, setting them up for more success.

The Revolving Loans Fund is part of the Kakuma Refugee Assistance Programme (KRAP) funded by UNHCR and implemented by AAH Kenya, focusing on enhancing reliant livelihoods of some 3000 individuals based at Kakuma refugee camp and Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement in order to boost self-reliance and sustainable livelihoods. The programme achieves this though skill enhancement, employment opportunities and enterprise development. Specifically, loan disbursements for business start-ups, agribusiness training and linkages to market access as well as mentoring and coaching of upcoming business entrepreneurs with successful business owners. The project is aligned to SDG number 2 which supports interventions in food and incomes security targeting the most vulnerable individuals and groups.

Mid-twenties refugee caregiver of 7 children succeeds in business in refugee settlement

Back home in Yei South Sudan Hakim Samuel moved people and goods from one place to another on his motorcycle, a service commonly known across countries in East Africa as boda-boda, to earn some money to meet the needs of his family of nine. His wife and their children now aged nine, six and four years and 4 other children of his deceased brother aged seventeen, fifteen, twelve and nine years, lived with him in a small place in Yei, a medium-sized town in South Sudan’s southwest, close to the borders of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The continued conflict in Yei forced him and his family to leave their home in 2017 in search of a peaceful place to make a life.

On his motorcycle they carried a few of their belongings and headed for safety in Uganda. Eventually, him and his family were settled in Omugo refugee settlement, an area within the larger Rhino refugee camp in Arua District in northwestern Uganda. Like most new arrivals to such refugee settlements they relied on humanitarian organizations operating in the area to get decent shelter, clean water, food, health and protection. As they gradually settled down in their new home Hakim decided to try out boda-boda service in the area to earn some money to cater for more needs of his large family.

A view of Omugo refugee settlement in Arua District in Uganda

Sadly, the venture didn’t bring in as much money as he needed to adequately deal with daily responsibilities. Aside from the fuel and repair costs he could only provide service to the people within the boundaries of the refugee settlements, limiting opportunity to make more money. Despite the setbacks the mid-twenties caregiver of 7 children summed up what enabled him to overcome the obstacles, “At some point I realized that there was no other way to make money and the only way for me to get ahead was to use the skills that God gave me”.

As he was thinking about ways to deal with the challenges, he heard about a business training opportunity one day over the local radio and decided to give it a try. The opportunity was part of interventions aimed at increasing access to quality skills development through training, scholarships, entrepreneurial skills and start-up kits for refugees and host communities. Enabel and AAH Uganda implemented the interventions in Adjumani, Arua, Kiryandongo, and Yumbe Districts in coordination with the Uganda Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES).

Hakim was among the beneficiaries selected for the intervention, and it turned out to be the break that he had been looking for. Through the training Hakim learnt how to wire various electric circuits, weld components on interconnect circuit boards, assemble and disassemble mobile phones, as well as the business skill necessary to run a small business. After completing training, he was able to get temporary work repairing security lights at facilities run by humanitarian organizations in the area, as he built his experience.

Back home in Yei Hakim had sublet a small space at his place to a phone repairer and got to observe the demand for the service. So, when this opportunity came up he was able to quickly pick it as the next best way for him to earn a living. Seeing no growth in earnings from boda-boda he sold off the motorcycle and invested the money in a small repair shop at a market center inside the refugee settlement. The programme allocated him a start-up kit with a set of screw-drivers, soldering tools, and solar powering equipment to get him started. He is now able to earn some money that at least enables him cater to some needs of his family. Although he has trouble finding spare parts for repairing his customers phones, he remains delighted with the positive change of his situation, “God provides for the things you ask for however small, it’s a blessing, I’m grateful for it.”

Hakim Samuel stands next to his phone repair shop in Omugo Refugee Settlement

The European Union Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF) established the Support Programme for Refugee Settlement in Northern Uganda (SPRS-NU) to specifically address the roots of destabilization, forced displacement and irregular migration, by promoting economic and equal opportunities, security and development. The project is aligned to SDG number 2 which supports interventions in food and incomes security targeting the most vulnerable individuals and groups.