Dedicated to Transforming Community Livelihoods Economically
Youth Initiative For Economic Transformation (YIET)
PROGRAMS. FINANCIAL LITERACY, FOUNDATION SKILLS & LEADERSHIP
Youth Initiative For Economic Transformation (YIET) Initiative is a community-based organization operating in Kiryandongo District in Midwestern Uganda, registered with Kiryandongo District local government.
Founded by Odida Julius in 2016, YIET’s primary function is to propagate financial literacy education and practices through the Village Savings and Loaning Association Activities (VSLA)* program.
To start the program, Odida initially teamed up with nine members and embarked on a weekly individual saving of UGX10,000 (USD3), or collectively UGX100,000 (USD29) per week and UGX400,000 (USD116) per month.
The local youths, including students and refugees, partook in a variety of productive activities to earn these initial funds, such as through manual labor, farm work, selling produce, boda boda (motorcycle taxi) driving, and repairing bicycles.
By month three, Odida’s small VSLA savings fund grew to UGX1,200,000 (USD348) and made its first loans to its members to start up local businesses such as piggery, poultry, retail business, produce business, farming, and transport business.
With a proper governance structure and community support in place, the members developed a sense of financial literacy, monitored each other’s progress, and ensured that their funds were being put to good use and diligently repaid on time.
With the success of the initial fund, YIET quickly expanded to create additional VSLA groups, developed richer training material and best practices, and expanded into more socially responsible activities to help neighboring youths to enable their economic progress.
Our home is in Uganda
Uganda is a developing country and one of the poorest countries in the world. According to the National Household Survey Report published by the UGanda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) in 2018, 8 million or 21.5% of the population is living in poverty, which is defined as a in “conditions of extreme deprivation of human needs, characterized by the inability of individuals or households to meet or access the minimum requirements for decent human wellbeing such as nutrition, health, literacy, or shelter. The average poverty standard of living is USD0.88-1.04 per person per day.
Uganda’s main economic activity is agriculture, which is prevalent in rural communities and carried out on a subsistence basis with limited scale.
For its youths, the fundamentals of the economy means that the opportunity for education, employment, or access to funds to start up income generating activities is extremely limited, leading to slow development and social issues.
YIET was established to educate local youths on financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills. Concurrently, it’s VSLAs fill in the gap of accessing funds for the poor and unbanked members. For some, the loans are an investment in their education, for others, it is the chance to start small businesses. All of the members’ activities are pledged to align with both personal improvement and for greater social wellbeing.
YIET’s hope is that little by little, its program can enable a series of small changes that eventually link together to strengthen the fabric of the local community and economy. With concerted efforts, YIET is looking forward to bring the current generation out of poverty.
YIET runs 3 major programs; Financial literacy, Foundational Skills (Life skills and Sexual reproductive Health) and Leadership program implemented practically and through trainings at both community and school level.
1. FINANCIAL LITERACY
The financial literacy program is implemented in two ways; through training and practically
The training is done at both community level and school level.
At community level, our trainers, who are part of the YIET team, train organized youth groups, women groups, Persons with Disability (PWD) groups among others within the district.
At school level, YIET trains the school YIET club Patron, who intern trains a selected club members (5-10), who thereafter train the rest of the club members under the supervision of the club Patron and YIET. The training focuses on different topics including; Personal Financial Management (PFM), Savings, Budgeting, Loan Management, Investments, Insurance and Planning for Old Age/Retirement. It also contains the concept village savings and Loaning Activities including; VSLA Cycle, Leadership, Saving Dates, About Savings, Welfare Fund, Other Charges and Fines, Loaning and Follow up, Records Kept and Roles & responsibilities of specific leaders.
Practically, financial Literacy is done through Village Savings and Loaning Activities.
At community level, it’s done through organizing youths in groups of 25-35 members and providing them with saving kits (Savings box, record books, saving passbooks, pens among others) to begin saving an agreed amount of money at an agreed regular meeting date and subsequently give loans after accumulation of funds.
At school level, we do it through the club members who are, with the close supervision of the Patrons and the school administration, encouraged to do savings and loaning.
About our VSLA Model
Our Village savings and loaning associations groups (VSLA) use a Rotating Credit and Savings Association (ROSCA) model, where a group of individuals (15 – 35 in number) acting as an informal financial institution in the form of an alternative financial vehicle.
The VSLAs are operated in cycles. A complete cycle is usually 12 months. The month for the start of the cycle usually does not matter; savings can begin in any month of the year and ends in the same month in the next year to make the 12 months cycle.
Management of the VSLAs
The VSLAs are purely member managed, meaning that the members are involved in all the operations and management of their VSLAs.
The members organize and elect their own leaders that include among others; Chairperson and Vice, Secretary and Vice, Treasurer, Loans officer and Vice, Money counters (Usually 2 in number), Key Keepers (usually 3 in number) and the Advisor, who are mandated with the management of the group activities.
The organized group members pool their money into a common fund, on a weekly basis on dates and times agreed by them,
After saving a certain agreed amount of money, the group starts loaning to the members who are interested in taking up the loan. The members themselves determine the minimum and maximum amount of loan to be given to a member and also the duration which that member should take to repay back the loan.
The Loan is taken at an interest rate and the rate is usually determined by the members themselves.
The duration for the loan always varies with the amount of money taken as loan by an individual. The group usually determines the amount to be given and the duration for which the loan should take to be repaid.
A member taking the loan is required to present a collateral security for backup in case he/she fails to pay back the loan. The collateral security is agreed upon by members themselves. It can be; Land, Plantation, Machines live Vehicles, Motorcycles and bicycles, buildings among others depending on the amount of money that a person is taking as Loan.
The member taking the loan is required to sign in the Loans Record Book and the passbook that contains a provision for the loans details.
At the end of every savings cycle, the members’ savings and interest are distributed to them so that they can use it for any other investments. A new cycle is then started and the routine is kept continuous.
2. FOUNDATIONAL SKILLS (Life Skills, Sexual Reproductive Health and Women Empowerment program)
The Foundational Skills – Life Skills and Sexual Reproductive Health program is also implemented in two ways; through training and practically.
Working with the Community and Schools
Community level: At community level, our trainers called peer educators, who are part of the YIET team, train the same organized youth groups, women groups, Persons with Disability (PWD) groups among others within the district.
School level: At school level, YIET through the peer educators trains the school YIET club Patron, who intern trains a selected club members (5-10), who thereafter train the rest of the club members under the supervision of the club Patron and YIET.
The training focuses on different topics including; Reproductive Anatomy and Physiology, Gender and Sex In Relation To Adolescent Sexuality, Adolescent Sexuality, Harmful Practices Affecting Young People’s Sexual and Reproductive Health, Drugs and Drug Abuse, Life Skills in Developing Positive Sexual Behaviours, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), Contraceptive Methods and Peer Counseling Service
Practically, we carryout foundational skills – Life skills and Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) program through Partnering with NGOs, Government, experts and the private sector in the medical field;
To train both the community girls, women and school children in making Reusable Menstrual Pads.
Donation of menstrual Pads to the rural poor girls and school going children.
Organizing free Vaccinations against the killer diseases.
Provision of free contraceptive pills and condoms to the rural communities.
Providing counselling services to HIV infected persons with counselors.
In Uganda, the teenage pregnancy rate stands at 25%. Young mothers in Uganda risk poor maternal and child health, being isolated, attempting unsafe abortions, failure to continue with school, and poverty.
Reproductive health education is a key strategy for promoting safe sexual behavior among teenagers.
Reproductive health education, including messages to encourage abstinence and promote the use of condoms and contraceptives by those who are sexually active, is the front line of efforts to prevent pregnancy, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among Uganda’s adolescents. School-based instruction is a primary mode of reproductive health education: It can reduce sexual risk behaviors by delaying age at first intercourse, reducing levels of sexual activity and increasing contraceptive or condom use.
At community level, Parents also can be influential sources of reproductive health education for adolescents. Reproductive health education, through schools or parents, is an important step in promoting safer sexual behaviors among American teenagers.
The causes of teenage pregnancies include:
· Lack of life and social survival skills,
· Lack of knowledge on how to avoid pregnancy,
· Low acceptance/use of contraceptives,
· Neglect by parents,
· Sexual abuse,
· Pressure to contribute to family welfare through early marriage or sexual transactions,
· Lack of community responsibility
· Media influence,
· Peer pressure, cultural beliefs that promote early marriage/childbearing and lack of role models.
Other contributing factors include drug use among boys, poverty, late work hours, long travel distances, e.g., to school, and unsupervised locations like sugarcane plantation thickets.
Coupled with the spread of HIV/AIDS in Uganda where by an estimated number of 400 000 people are living with HIV, and HIV prevalence—the percentage of people living with HIV—among adults (15–49 years) was 5.7%.
With about 5300 people infected and about 23 000 people dying from an AIDS-related illness.
Research also shows that 84% of people living with HIV know their status, 72% of people living with HIV are on treatment and 64% of people living with HIV are virally suppressed.
Since the factors causing adolescent pregnancy and HIV/AIDs infections and other sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis, Gonorrhea, candida among others in Uganda fall under individual, economic, social and physical environmental determinants. As YIET, we have designed our program to span Schools, family, community and government involvement to empower girls, their families and community members, and support collective action to reduce teenage pregnancies
YIET therefore has designed this program, Foundational skills – Life Skills and Sexual Reproductive Health to help the young adolescents, both at community and school level to quip them with the skills and knowledge to prevent teenage pregnancies, unplanned pregnancies and the spread of sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).
3. LEADERSHIP PROGRAM
Leadership is yet another program that YIET does at both community level and school level.
The major aim of this program is to empower, engage, mentor and produce great leaders capable of managing and providing effective leadership to the rest of the people around them.
At both community and school level, we do this through trainings conducted by YIET leadership and the patrons who do this on a step-down basis.The training focuses on different topics including; who a leader is, Qualities of a good and bad leader, Vision, Mission, Core values and Objectives statements in Relation to Leadership, General Roles of a leader, Leadership styles, Choosing Leadership Styles, Roles of different leaders in an organization, Bottom of FormInspiring Leadership Stories, Some of the Greatest African Leaders. The curriculum includes topics aimed at providing skills and tactics for leaders to head their different institutions at various levels. It also contains inspiring stories and quotes of some of the great leaders of all times both in and outside Africa to inspire, motivate and guide the beneficiaries of this program.
Practically, we also endeavor to bring in some of the successful and inspiring leaders of the society to speak to the participants, ask and be asked questions (interactive sessions) during a leadership training session and where possible ask them to communicate at individual levels. By so doing, we hope that they are inspired and hence are capable of learning and inspiring others they lead in the near future.
YIET does this through working with groups and partnering with Non-Governmental Organizations, government agencies and the private sector.