October 21, 2019 – At the end of July, the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI) – with support from the Swedish Postkod Foundation – successfully held its inaugural Business Plan Competition in the Acholi sub-region of Northern Uganda. The competition was open to young men and women who had completed at a minimum of WPDI’s intermediate-level Business and Entrepreneurship course and resulted in six winners.
At a fundamental level, the competition aimed to increase the chances of participants to start their own small enterprises, earn their own incomes, and provide employment and increased livelihood opportunities for other young people in the Acholi sub-region of Northern Uganda. The competition was held under our Business Boot Camp program, a platform that WPDI established to incubate income-generating projects designed and developed by young people in vulnerable and fragile communities. This program is a key component in our strategy to help these places advance on their path towards peace, resilience, and sustainability.
The competition began on July 25 and attracted eight group proposals from 64 youth participants. To enter into the competition, each group had to present a prepared business plan, which built upon what they had learned from taking WPDI’s business and entrepreneurship training course – a prerequisite for entering the competition. These plans were reviewed by an eight-member oversight and review committee, which included WPDI’s country coordinator, business skills officer, the district’s community development officer, the district’s youth chairperson, and four members of the local community. For two days, the committee reviewed the proposals, offered constructive feedback, and then, upon receiving final entries, chose six winners. Those included the Dream Hope Poultry Production, City Bakery, Northern Destiny International Goats Project, YELE Film Production, Drink Clean, Drink Safe, and Restore Hope Motorcycle Spare Parts groups.
After the competition closed, the winners were provided with financial and oversight support by WPDI and have made good progress towards their goals. All have completed their initial rounds of training, and some, like the Dream Hope Poultry Association and the City Bakery Group, have finished purchasing needed equipment. Even though they only began operations a few short months ago, Drink Clean, Drink Safe Fresh Juice has even managed to secure a strategic storefront along the Kampala Highway and already turn a small profit. As one member of that business told us about their experience in the competition, “WPDI has given us the skills and knowledge to develop a business with commitment and diligence. This has made all of us who we are today. We know that this will benefit a lot of youths in our community.”
Needless to say, WPDI looks forward to working with all six groups as we help guide and monitor their growth to ensure their viability. As these six businesses – in addition to the fifty others we support in the region – continue to grow, thrive, and flourish, we look forward to marveling in their achievements.