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.