Claudine

Claudine

Claudine, a student at GS Mareba in Bugesera, Rwanda, dreams of opening her own shop one day and using a portion of her earnings to pay for vulnerable children to go to school. But Claudine didn't always dream this big. Before Rwanda's new skills-based curriculum came into effect, she used to go to class, memorize facts, and leave for the day, without thinking about how to apply what she learned in her own life. Once she began participating in Skills Labs and her school's Student Business Club her mindset changed. She realized that she was capable of starting her own business and earning income to support herself and her family, while also helping her community. Claudine began making tablecloths and woven baskets for sale and used the money she earned to buy a small herd of goats, which she sees as an investment in her future. After she graduates she plans to use the income she earns from the goats to achieve her dream: opening her own fashion store and paying it forward to young people in need.

Paul

Paul

Paul was first introduced to the Educate! Experience as a high schooler in 2009. He was impressed by a charismatic and inspiring man named Solomon Kayiwa who came to his school to talk about a new academic opportunity. Solomon told Paul and his classmates about Educate!’s unique approach to education, one that would empower young people to develop entrepreneurial and business skills, and Paul was intrigued. He had seen many of his peers fall into the trappings of unemployment, an outcome that he feared. Solomon’s words made Paul believe that his future could be different; he realized that “if you join Educate!, you are going to be able to create your own job.”

Paul quickly rose as a strong leader and changemaker within his school. Within two years, Paul had accumulated an impressive list of achievements: Educate! Business Club President, winner of the nation-wide business plan competition, and de facto mediator when the school administration and the student collective clashed.

Today, you’ll find Paul at the forefront of an impressive social enterprise called Tugende, which creates opportunity through ownership by kick-starting financial independence for Ugandan motorcycle taxi drivers. It’s a company with empowerment at its core, and Paul recognized this: “when I heard about Tugende giving the opportunity to people to help themselves I said why can’t I be part of this team?” Paul lives his life to invest in future of others, a value he can attribute to the Educate! Experience. He says “Educate! really changed my thinking. Up to today, it’s my driving force.”

Titus

Titus

Growing up in Kapchorwa, Eastern Uganda, Titus worked alongside the rest of his family growing vegetables to put food on the table and bring in a modest income. When Titus was only nine years old, his father died suddenly leaving his mother to care for their five children alone. Titus and his siblings continued to plant matooke, beans and other local crops to pay school fees, but it was never quite enough, and the family ultimately had to sell some of their land to continue sending the children to school.

The hardships that Titus’ family endured to support his continuing education inspired him to be an advocate so that other youth would have the same opportunities. He attended one of Educate!’s hands-on Experience Association teacher trainings and decided to reach out to Educate!’s Regional Program Officer to ask about how he could join in the movement. His motivation and deep commitment to mentoring other youth was evident, and he was soon asked to join the Educate! team as a Youth Business Experience (YBE) Fellow and Mentor in the Kapchorwa region. Titus has seen his leadership skills and confidence grow immensely over the course of 2014.

As a Mentor, he has learned to manage and motivate large groups and has developed tools to engage with different types of people using creativity, respect and friendship. Through YBE, Titus has gained insights about starting a business and overcoming the challenges faced by start-up enterprises. Since joining Educate!, Titus has helped his mother grow her milk production business exponentially, which has provided financial stability and peace of mind for their family. Titus also hopes to start a lending business in the near future.

Through YBE he has received planning advice and guidance from a financial services company to help him achieve his goal. In these ways, Titus exemplifies the goal of the mentorship program by guiding and inspiring members of his community while continuing to build himself as a leader and entrepreneur.

Hanifah

Hanifah

Hanifah grew up in Kampala, the capital city of a country where 10 million people live below the poverty line and most families struggle to send their children to secondary school. Hanifah’s family was lucky: Her father ran a tailoring business that employed more than 20 people and generated enough profit to pay school fees for all of his children. He taught his children to work hard to achieve their goals, and Hanifah learned to work as a tailor in the family business.

Hanifah was 16 when her father died unexpectedly and the business crumbled rapidly. Shortly thereafter, Hanifah became very ill and the family’s savings were decimated by medical bills, leaving them deeply in debt and unable to support the remainder of Hanifah’s education after she recovered.

Hanifah could not have imagined then that she would soon become a successful and self-sufficient entrepreneur. Today, she pays her own way through university by running her very own tailoring business. Hanifah was able to return to secondary school on a scholarship and, as an Educate! Scholar, she launched a business sewing uniforms for local schools, selling around 200 uniforms in her first year for a profit of 200,000 Ugandan Shillings (about 80 US Dollars). This year, she expects to sew close to 2,000! Hanifah also expanded her business, hiring a full-time employee to sew cloth bags and children’s clothes, which she sells at a local market.

At just 20 years old, Hanifah already embodies Educate!’s exponential empowerment model. She uses a portion of her income to purchase materials and train community members to make liquid soap -- a skill she learned as an Educate! Scholar -- resulting in at least one new liquid soap business in her community! Hanifah named her business RENDAH, an acronym for the people who have helped and supported her to get to where she is today, and the “E” in RENDAH stands for Educate!. Hanifah credits Educate! with giving her the tools to run her business, including helping her become more confident and resourceful and learn to effectively communicate her needs -- skills that she knows can be especially challenging for girls to develop.

Nicholas

Nicholas

Nicholas’ smile is contagious. His shop, a simple concrete room, houses a video library, a game console, and Nicholas’ handmade products: beautiful glass jewelry, beaded bags, and screen-printed t-shirts. On a shelf are several items proudly on display. Front and center is Nicholas’ Educate! graduation certificate, showing that he graduated top of his class—a Gold Certificate Scholar. Next to that hangs a newly awarded certificate of completion from Educate!’s Mentor Induction, an intensive two-week training that prepared him to deliver the Educate! curriculum to new classes of Educate! Scholars. Only Gold Certificate Graduates can become Educate! Mentors, and this is a goal Nicholas has worked toward for a long time.

Nicholas was not always a star student. In fact, he was suspended from secondary school twice. “He was discouraged and didn’t see how his life could go anywhere,” reflects Dorothy, the Educate! Program Officer who supports the Educate! program in his school. Always an active child, Nicholas’ greatest passion was soccer until he acquired a severe bone infection, which forced him out of school for a year to recover. The infection also left him with a physical disability that shattered his dream of becoming a professional soccer player.

“His life was derailed,” Dorothy remembers, “he hated himself and blamed himself.” His anger and hopelessness grew and led him down a path of misconduct in school. Nicholas found himself on the verge of expulsion. That’s when Nicholas met Carol, an Educate! Mentor, and gained a new perspective. “She told me life didn’t have to be like this. She made me believe in myself.” Carol’s support inspired Nicholas to apply to Educate! to be one of the 40 Scholars selected to participate in a skills-based course focused on leadership, entrepreneurship, and workforce readiness. Nicholas was accepted into the program and, for the first time in years, he saw a future for himself.

Nicholas started his business while he was an Educate! Scholar with just $10. He grew his business over time, reinvesting profits, expanding his product base, buying higher quality materials, and recently, earning enough to rent his own storefront and workshop. One of Nicholas’ proudest accomplishments is that he is completely self-sufficient and pays his own bills. Nicholas’ impact has expanded beyond himself: he’s hired a business partner, his childhood friend Ashrah, to support his thriving business. Ashrah covers the shop while Nicholas is busy with his new duties as an Educate! Mentor.

It’s a lot of responsibility, but Nicholas doesn’t see it as a job, he sees it as a calling. “When the opportunity came, I knew I had to be a Mentor. When the students look up to me, it gives me more motivation. I work harder and achieve more because I don’t want to let them down. I know I am changing lives.” Nicholas is also an inspiration to his family. “My siblings look up to me because my childhood was hard. Now when I go home I can buy them sugar, and they respect me because they know I’ve done something better with my life.”

Nicholas will be an Educate! Mentor for the next two years, gaining advanced business skills to support the growth of his own business, while also empowering and inspiring the next generation of Educate! Scholars. Looking ahead, Nicholas sees a bright future for himself and the youth of Uganda. “I heard that 70% of youth in Uganda are not employed, and I was so happy in my heart that it was not me. If you look at the Educate! Graduates you will see we are all employed. We feel proud. Everything has changed since Educate!.”

Munirah

Munirah

A master multi-tasker at only 19 years old, Munirah Bashirah is both a self-made businesswoman and a star Educate! Mentor.

Beloved by her Scholars for her insightful coaching and steadfast encouragement, Munirah brings grit, passion, and drive to everything she does. Since graduating from the Educate! Experience, Munirah has relentlessly pursued her dream of owning a successful art and design business. Her fashion and design company, the Muni Textile and Fabric Co., is an outlet for Munirah’s creative talents, where she designs and retails fashionable and modest clothing for other young Muslim women. To expand her business, Munirah taught herself to screen print, and soon after noticed a market opportunity others had missed.

For the 2016 Kampala City Festival, Munirah designed and printed T-shirts with the festival’s logo. Munirah’s first batch of shirts sold out almost the instant she opened her festival stall, so she rushed home to make more, only to sell out again. By the end of the weekend, Munirah had sold 378 T-shirts and made her largest profit ever.

By challenging herself to take on ambitious business projects and reaping the rewards of her hard work, Munirah is a shining example for the next generation of young female entrepreneurs. 

Pauline

Pauline

She was surrounded by some of the best eco-friendly entrepreneurs in Uganda. These innovators were going to harness the abundance of renewable energy in East Africa through innovation and imagination. They were the ones who would tap into a market undiscovered yet filled with so much potential and promise. They were the ones who were going to become the next Lorna Rutto, the woman who found a way to make trees from plastic to source lumber in an eco-responsible way. Or Andrew Mupuya, the man whose recycled paper bag business took Uganda by storm. Pauline was amongst them.

When the instructor—an expert in international business plans who coached and prepared Pauline and her fellow entrepreneurs for the annual Green Business Plan Competition—asked this group of young change-makers a question about business strategy or market research tactics, she already knew the answer. Surprised by her business savvy and wealth of knowledge exceeding that of her peers, the instructor asked, “How do you know all this?” Pauline, proud and confident, replied, “Educate!.”

A few months back, Pauline Madudu, along with applicants from all across Uganda, had submitted her business plan to the annual Green Business Competition held by the International Labor Organization. She hoped to be recognized as one of Uganda’s top entrepreneurs tackling sustainable development through business initiatives. Only six winners would walk away with cash prizes to reinvest into their innovations.

Last year you would have found Pauline in front of a room full of eager Educate! Scholars as a Mentor, engaging youth in hands-on skillsbased learning and preparing them for the world outside of secondary school, where they would have to find ways to earn income, go to university, and apply for jobs. As a former Educate! Scholar herself, Pauline could easily relate to the struggles her current students faced, but she also knew exactly how to motivate them. Pauline herself was proof that their energy was not wasted. Pauline had developed a successful notebook-making business while participating in Educate!’s Leadership and Entrepreneurship Course. Her success was what her students sought to embody the most.

Now, Pauline is the only manufacturer of student notebooks in her region. To gain a competitive edge, Pauline began producing her notebooks with recycled paper. The strategy was to cut the cost of manufacturing, allowing Pauline to lower the price of her notebooks thereby enabling lower-income students to afford to buy the notebooks and be well-equipped for school. Pauline’s goal is to expand her business throughout Uganda, starting in Eastern Uganda, where she has witnessed families struggle to afford school supplies. With the dual social good that her business provides by both aiding low income families and producing an earth-friendly product, Pauline was motivated to enter this year’s Green Business Competition.

And she won! Pauline was one of the six winners to receive cash prizes, and the 1.3 million Ugandan Shillings (nearly $400) she received for her innovation will propel her business to the next level. Pauline is a prime example of the tenacious, ambitious young leaders that Educate! develops—youth with big dreams and the fearlessness to fulfill them.

Pauline is proof that the youth of Africa can become the generation that solves poverty. We can’t wait to see what she does next.

Sam

Sam

In 2009, Educate!’s inaugural year, Sam Mbulamukungi enrolled in a Skills Course and changed the trajectory of his life. For years, Sam’s parents used their small farming wages for two things: paying for their family’s basic needs and Sam’s education. It was this sacrifice that motivated Sam to excel in school, hoping that one day his parents’ efforts would pay off. When James Katumba, an Educate! Mentor, told Sam and his secondary school classmates that they could enroll in a course to acquire leadership and entrepreneurship skills, Sam believed that this was the opportunity he had been searching for. And Sam wasn’t the only one who felt this way; he recalls how “the whole school was being put on fire from the flame that Educate! had lit in us.” The Skills Course, Sam thought, could change everything. Sam was right.