Saturday February 15 2014

Youth should be entrepreneurial

By Jennifer Nattabi

I was reading a comment from one of my former students on his Face book page where he encouraged youth to work hard and stop expecting to get everything from their parents/guardians. I was encouraged to add more to his comment.

Most of the time, we may think it is the underprivilleged like orphans, the poor and the illiterate who should toil for their future. And that the children of the rich should simply watch TV and present long shopping lists at the end of the school holiday.
I think no more pocket money should be given to university students. We need to groom our children to be self-reliant citizens, entrepreneurs, and hard working. They should start as early as possible.

They do not need to first go to college or university and get degrees in entrepreneurship before sarting businesses. I do not know much about many of our business tycoons in Uganda but I do not think many of then had to first go to university and earn a degree in business to accumulate wealth.

Working with a research project for Aids-orphaned children under Columbia University’s global centre for child health and asset development, one of the research components is to train participants in income generating activities they can participate in before graduating from school. We aim at instilling in them a sense of responsibility for their future and also know that they can do something for themselves without dropping out of school.

We also want to create and strengthen family relations because we encourage caregivers to support these children’s projects when they are away at school.

When asked about the benefits of these trainings to the children, the families, and the society as well, they believe that such projects motivate children to work harder at school and also stay focused since they know they can meet some of their basic needs like scholastic materials using the money they get from their projects.

Evidence has shown that if children are kept busy they don’t engage in risky and sexually risky behaviour associated with HIV/Aids, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and STDs; as they have limited or no time for loitering around in places where they find themselves lured into risky practices. After class hours, they will usually rush home and attend to their projects.

Having projects at home will improve child-parent relationship as the parent will feel proud of her/his child and the child will feel loved by the guardian.

We need to change the trend. Let us encourage our children to do something for their future. If a child asked for a good pair of shoes, ask him or her how much they can contibute to the purchase.
Jennifer Nattabi,