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In Uganda, as many as 62% of youth are unemployed. Caroline is not one of them. As an Educate! Graduate, she knows she has smashed the statistic, and it is precisely that knowledge that feeds her big ambitions. At just 22 years old, Caroline is a facilitator for the International Labor Organization, a University student (working toward an Entrepreneurship degree), an Educate! Mentor for over 120 youth, and the founder of a community project called Babies of Hope. Remember, she is only 22 years old.

Caroline has an inextinguishable desire to create exponential impact within her community. As an Educate! Scholar, Caroline was able to combine this passion with the hard and soft skills needed to launch both a business and a community initiative. As a result, Caroline has a keen eye for identifying chronic social issues, developing sustainable and culturally relevant solutions, and implementing those solutions in a way that affects meaningful change. Troubled by the high number of pregnant teenage girls who drop out of school every year, Caroline started an initiative called Babies of Hope, which aims to empower and develop the skills of entrepreneurial young mothers, while preventing malnutrition among infants.

According to a Uganda Demographic Health Survey, 24% of female teenagers are either pregnant or have given birth already, leading to a loss of educational opportunities, a decreased ability to acquire employable skills, and poverty. Caroline understands this reality on a personal level because her mother gave birth to her at a very young age and faced serious hardships as a result. Caroline’s initiative, Babies of Hope, chips away at the adversity young mothers face by teaching them business skills like manufacturing products, market research and branding, as well as affordable ways to ensure a healthy diet for their newborn. She aims to get these women back into the workforce to pursue their dreams, earn a living, and step out of the cycle of poverty, all while raising happy, healthy children. There are currently twenty Babies of Hope members, all between the ages of 16 and 25. To Caroline, becoming a young mother “shouldn’t be the end of life.” Caroline says,

“I want to create hope. I want to build up children to have hope within them, to have a future ahead of them.”

Babies of Hope is Caroline’s labor of love, but it’s just one part of her busy life. Since her community initiative generates impact but not income, Caroline leverages her Educate! training into real world earnings. She has established a small business where she produces paper bags and sells them to independent buyers and supermarkets who use them for packaging. This endeavor is not only income-generating, but also environmentally friendly. The paper bags, which are made with recycled paper and cassava root glue, are biodegradable and reusable. Caroline’s business is profitable and expanding, and she recently acquired a business partner to help her with distribution and identifying new market opportunities.

What’s more, Caroline is a superstar Educate! Mentor. Since 2014, she has channeled her passion for business and empowerment into influencing the lives of her Scholars. She is constantly motivated by her Scholars’ progress, especially when they tell her that she is their role model, which happens frequently. When asked what her favorite lesson to teach her students is, she replies,

“ My favorite activity is called ‘Label Me’. Some people are minimized by society and they give up because of who society says they are. This lesson teaches Scholars that you should not go by what society says. As long as you have your vision, you can believe in yourself and continue forward.”
 

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