January 29, 2021 – Recently, the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI) and the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) conducted a Business Bootcamp competition in South Sudan’s Central Equatoria State. The event – which was attended by dozens of people – attracted 12 business proposals, with 10 ultimately chosen by an expert review committee. Now, those 10 will receive financial and backstopping support, helping them create change and have an impact in their communities.
Business Bootcamp competitions aim to provide young people an opportunity to start their own small businesses, earn an income, and provide further employment opportunities to others, thereby having a ripple effect. This is a key component of WPDI’s strategy to help vulnerable places become more peaceful, resilient, and prosperous places. Competitions are held under the auspices of our Business Bootcamp program, a platform WPDI established to help incubate income-generating projects designed by youths in vulnerable communities. Thanks to support from USADF, we are providing funding and backstopping support to 30 small businesses in South Sudan and Uganda.
Designed to help spur entrepreneurship in the state’s Lainya, Terekeka, Juba, and Yei River counties, the most recent competition served as a follow up to the Business & Entrepreneurship and Conflict Resolution Education trainings we held last year for more than 300 youths in Central Equatoria State. These youths were encouraged to participate in the competition, and ultimately 12 groups submitted business proposals. Over a four-day period, an expert review committee from USADF’s partner, Foundation for Youth Initiative, and WPDI scrutinized each proposal. The teams were then asked to give 15-minute pitches and respond to questions before the 10 winners were chosen. They include:
1) James Yata: JY Beekeeping & Honey Production;
2) Batali Oliver, Lainya Classic Hotel;
3) Ropani Grance Aaron, Shalom Pigs Firm Co-Ltd;
4) Emanuel Karaba, Youth Agribusiness Enterprise;
5) Albino Morji, Terekeka ICT Training Center;
6) Nora A-Joseph, Tali Fresh;
7) Betty Sunday, Cassava Plantation;
8) Winnie Ayak, Maize Milling Tal Company Ltd;
9) Rakele Jamba, Blessed Poultry Farm; and
10) Yanga Steven, Block Making.
The participants found the competition to be both very engaging as well as empowering. James, a WPDI youth peacemaker from Yei River, mentioned that “The competition has been wonderful and transparent. It has given our entire team a boost. We’re incredibly proud of the determination and dedication of our team and to be recognized for our business idea about beekeeping and honey production. This announcement has given us a boost to work hard and take the business to another level.” Nora, a local youth from Terekeka County, had a similar sentiment, responding that “I am delighted that we have emerged winners of the Business boot camp competition. We’ll be producing groundnuts and producing peanut butter to be distributed in local restaurants and residential areas. This project will absorb many young people who have been involved in cattle raiding to work and improve their economic status.”
In the coming months, the 10 winners of the Business Plan Competition will be awarded $10,000 grants to start their businesses as well as backstopping and other support. With their enthusiasm and hard work, we know that each will achieve success and have a lasting impact on their communities.