Heifer International and the Mastercard Foundation will extend their collaboration in a new partnership to expand access to agribusiness opportunities for over 250,000 young people in Uganda.

The Stimulating Agriculture for Youth Employment (SAYE) project, led by Heifer International and local partners, will run from 2023 to 2029 in the Busoga sub-region of Eastern Uganda. The project aims to empower young people aged 16 to 35 by improving skills, expanding market access and offering inclusive financing in key sectors including poultry, horticulture, oilseed, dairy and beef value chains. Young women will make up 70 per cent of participants, while three per cent will be young persons with disabilities.   

“Our goal is to transform the market ecosystem in Busoga in a way that drives inclusion and economic resilience for the many young people who currently have trouble securing dignified and fulfilling work,” said Surita Sandosham, Heifer International President and CEO.  

The $48 million SAYE project will build on the work of Heifer International’s East Africa Youth Inclusion Program (EAYIP), which was also in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, and created 33,000 new jobs for more than 25,000 young people between 2016 and 2022. EAYIP leveraged an agri-hub model to boost young people’s access to technical, business and financial products and services. 

Under SAYE, Heifer will lead the formation and strengthening of youth- and farmer-led agri-hubs, while local partners will focus on business incubation, skills training, promoting micro, small and medium enterprises, and improving access to financial services. 

The SAYE project will roll out in 11 districts of the Busoga sub-region: Jinja, Mayuge, Iganga, Kamuli, Kaliro, Namutumba, Bugweri, Luka, Buyende, Bugiri, Namayengo. The high rates of poverty in these districts partly stem from an overreliance on low-value crops like sugar cane and limited opportunities for income generation. SAYE is targeting sectors with low entry barriers for young people and high market potential, aiming to boost local income opportunities.  

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