Benson Brings ICT Skills to Youth in Rural Uganda
At just 21 years old, former Educate! Scholar Benson is not only a young entrepreneur and avid computer programmer with his own business, but a budding philanthropist as well. His project “Uganda Computer Aid” was recently recognized by the United Nations’ sponsored World Summit on Information Society Prize (WSIS) for its efforts to equip marginalized youth in Uganda with important information and communication technology skills (ICT).
Born in the Mountainous Rwenzori region of Uganda, Benson was first introduced to computers by his father, who began teaching him basic computing skills at an early age. Captivated by technology, Benson spent hours on his father’s laptop and soon decided to turn his newfound passion into an enterprise, launching his first business – Shamigon Technologies. Determined to become a job-creator in his rural community and eager to obtain the tools to grow his business, Benson joined the Educate! Experience towards the end of secondary school.
Putting into practice the key skills he learned through the Educate! program, such as financial literacy, record-keeping, communication, and cooperative leadership, Benson’s business began to take shape – offering a wide range of Information Technology (IT) services to clients throughout his community and online. As his customer base grew, he also began to meet other young people who were as interested as he was in learning technological skills. He soon realized that many of the youth in his region, particularly those who were marginalized, did not have the opportunity or resources to learn basic ICT skills – skills which are rapidly becoming more important for finding employment. Surprised by the sheer lack of access to computers and dearth of technological skills among young people in his community, Benson saw a crucial need and set out to launch his second enterprise – the Musabe Foundation.
Today, Benson’s foundation holds free ICT workshops for marginalized youth in his community. Within the sessions, he teaches basic computing skills and passes on the 21st century tools he’s gained and the skills he continues to learn as a young entrepreneur. He also uses the workshops as a platform to address other important issues in the region, such as food security, women’s empowerment, and HIV/AIDS. Benson’s commitment is to the development of other bright young people in his community, and to date, his foundation has held over 340 trainings in the rural Rwenzori region of Western Uganda.