Technoprenuership: Is it the solution for youth unemployment?

Barbara Birungi, the founder and director of Hive Colab, studies a document. Photo by PAUL NJUGUNA

What you need to know:

  • The three days expo was implemented in partnership with Innovation Village and Absa Bank under the theme, “Technoprenuership: the Future of Work”

Securing a decent job remains one of the most challenging tasks for the majority of the youth in the country despite different government projects birthed over the years to contain the rising youth unemployment challenge.

And perhaps more troubling is the revelation contained in a report titled: Work and Income for Young Men and Women in Africa: The case of Uganda, that more than 87 per cent of youth in the country work in insecure, low-income, and often unsafe informal-sector jobs or in family income generation activities with little or no pay at all.

According to the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) published report, government responses aimed at addressing the unemployment question include but not limited to initiatives such as Youth Entrepreneurial Scheme (YES) programme - introduced in 1995 as a loan scheme for youth who wished to venture into business, the Youth Venture Capital Fund (YVCF) – unveiled in 2011 to create jobs and expand the business and the Young Livelihood Programme (YLP) – started in 2013, targeting the unemployed and poor youth – all haven’t been exactly the answer.

 As a result, there is now a call for a new consideration and focus to deal with the issue of youth unemployment described by economists, policy analysts, and government strategists as a ticking time bomb.  

 For most of last week, the leadership of the country’s National Social Security Fund (NSSF) spent most of its time trying to encourage and equip university students with technopreneurship skills. This, according to Fund’s Managing Director, Richard Byarugaba, is to enable the university students to explore as well as firm their hands with knowledge and skills that “is the future”. 

“At NSSF we are cognizant of the current development and future prospects. Our young people will be people better off if they embrace the opportunities in technology and use it in their businesses and career development,” Mr Byarugaba told the youths at this year’s annual NSSF Career Expo held in Kampala recently.

The three days expo was implemented in partnership with Innovation Village and Absa Bank under the theme, “Technoprenuership: the Future of Work”

Technoprenuership is a kind of entrepreneurship in the field of technology and innovation. It is a perfect fit for many young people in Uganda especially those who are willing to be tech-savvy, creative and innovative. It also requires people who are willing to take a calculated risk.

Speaking at the launch of the expo, Mr Byarugaba noted that young people are not really benefitting as much from the new emerging technologies because of the ill-prepared setup of the country’s current education system.

According to the Fund’s Managing Director, whose organisation is currently managing Shs15.5trillion worth of assets and investments, the country’s education system needs to pick up the pace with the current technological environment.

Meanwhile, as an institution operating in evolving technology and information age, NSSF says it will do its part in deepening and encouraging technopreneurship with a view to helping respond to the larger youth employment question. 

“NSSF is deliberately focusing its sustainability agenda on helping youth to take full advantage of these new and emerging technologies while being resilient in the age of disruption. We are doing this through our innovation program, Hi-innovator, and financial literacy,” Mr Byarugaba said.

He continued: “Having an idea alone is not a guarantee that your business will be successful. You need to start by skilling yourself to better understand how to operate a startup in this economy.

“Be intentional in what you are looking for and take advantage of such programs that support young innovators even before you complete your university degree. In this way, you will be equipped to run a successful start-up.”

He advised students and young people never to be afraid to venture into innovation and technology-related business, citing available support offered by the Fund’s Hi-innovator program.

As for Mr Mumba Kalifungwa the Absa Uganda, Managing Director, the young people should seek ample knowledge of the business they are venturing into and have the financial acumen to run a successful business. And this is a space that financial institution is willing to engage with players involved or looking to venture into. This is because to be successful clarity of purpose is essential right from the beginning of the venture.

He said: “An innovator will struggle to find a market for their products if it doesn’t offer a solution to any community problems. As an entrepreneur, you need to start with identifying the problem you are trying to address.”

Mr Japheth Kawanguzi, the team lead at the Innovation Village urged the young people to take advantage of technology to execute their ideas, noting that funding shouldn’t be an obstacle and the overriding factor for young people pursuing their careers and dreams in this space.

“Having an idea is good but you will have to translate it into a business then you can tap into your social capital to propel your venture even before thinking of financial capital. And now you have an opportunity to leverage on technology to create value, attract investments and venture capital which will turn your amazing idea into a full-blown business,” he said


The NSSF Career Expo offers a platform for students to network and learn from established industry experts for career advancement, entrepreneurship, employment positioning, financial literacy, and personal growth beyond their studies at the university.

This was the 12th year, and the NSSF Career Expo happened. It has impacted over 300,000 to date, helping many kick-starts their journey to financial security, entrepreneurship, and career growth.