Educate! officially launched programs in two new regions of Uganda in the first half of 2018 - the South and West. This launch meant recruiting and onboarding a large cohort of new Mentors - a process that looks different when we launch in a new region, because we don't have a pool of Educate! graduates to draw from for recruiting. To solve this challenge, Educate! runs a program called Youth Entrepreneurship Training (YET) in the districts where we will launch. This comprehensive, multi-week training is a condensed version of the entrepreneurship, leadership, and workforce-readiness training provided through the Educate! Experience, along with additional training on classroom management, facilitation, and peer mentorship. By the end of YET, all participants are expected to have created a business plan and to have the skills they need to launch and grow a successful enterprise. YET also serves as an extended interview process, where the top participants from each YET cohort are selected to become Mentors.
Joshua, one of the new Mentors in Mbarara in southern Uganda, has his diploma in civil engineering. However, he was disappointed to discover that after he graduated, he simply couldn't find work. He said it never occurred to him to try to create a job for himself by starting a business. Then, he encountered an advertisement for YET. "During YET, my ideas about business changed - I felt 'I can go there!' I used to think it was so hard [to start a business], but now my life has changed because now I see what’s possible." The enterprise that Joshua pitched at the end of YET was a garbage collection business - a social enterprise that would offer waste pickup and disposal for families in Mbarara. Currently, no such service exists, and most people burn their trash or dump it in dangerous open waste sites. Now, as Joshua settles into his new role as Mentor, he continues to refine his business plan and take steps to get it up and running.
When asked about his hopes for his Scholars, Joshua replies: "I hope after graduation they have the skills they need." He's excited to provide a positive and different educational experience than students will gain in their other classes. "Through our education system there is always tension. There is no relationship between the teachers and the students - sometimes in school I would fear to answer questions or I would get answers wrong that I actually knew, because of that tension. But for us at Educate!, it's totally different.”