Hi there! Thanks for checking out Venture U, a social impact subscription you can join to deliver a business training toolkit to a new secondary student in Uganda every month. My name is Noelle and I’m keeping track of the success stories that stem from this project.

If you’re here, then you’ll likely want to see why these toolkits can be so life-changing. Well, we’ve seen firsthand that these toolkits truly have the ability to change someone’s story (and often those of their families, too).

Read on to learn how Venture U began and what it can do in the near future. Then, head back to our website to join everyone else who’s making a real, meaningful difference for people across the globe — every single month.

Students Struggle to Sustain Businesses in Uganda

The state of business in Uganda is grim. Every year, according to Youth Business International, roughly 400,000 Ugandan people contend for about 9,000 jobs. To counterbalance this flood of job seekers, the country really needs job makers — meaning, entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, entrepreneurial failure rates in Uganda are dangerously high. Here are the numbers:

  • In 2015, Uganda was the most entrepreneurial country in the world, by far; its entrepreneurial rate was almost double that of the runner-up country, according to an Approved Index analysis.
  • Uganda also has the highest business failure rate in the world, by far; in 2014, the percentage of failed businesses 21.17%, more than double of average of countries with similar economies (see the 2014 Global Report by GEM for more detail).
Students gather in a school to learn about business together during the Venture U pilot program

These statistics staggered us when we first heard them. So, we took the opportunity to learn more about this issue by speaking directly with Ugandan entrepreneurs. Here’s what we learned from them:

  • We learned that it is difficult for Ugandans to get a solid business education outside of a college or university, where most cannot afford to go.
  • We learned that secondary schools (the equivalent of American high schools) offer limited business education, but the curriculum is congested with information that is useless for its audience. For example, students may learn about certain marketing tactics in excruciating detail, even though those tactics are impractical for the types of businesses they are likely to start.

It’s no wonder so many businesses fail every year in Uganda. Unfortunately, failing businesses are not just numbers in a report. Each discontinued business in Uganda could translate to a family losing its income, a young adult losing access to education, children losing meals, and the country losing jobs. This is why Venture U exists.

Jovunary Asiimwe is one of four siblings without parents. He keeps 6 beehives and puts away a little bit at a time so he can afford to go back to school.

Venture U is a Free, High-Quality Business Education

Venture U is a business-building curriculum meant to supplement or replace the existing secondary school curriculum. It includes relevant examples, and it is easy for anyone to understand — no more irrelevant topics and tiring memorization! So far, over 2,000 students across Western Uganda have received training through hands-on workshops and business toolkits.

The Venture U toolkit consists of three printed booklets: the first imparts a vision for entrepreneurship and covers basic business concepts; the second is a 25-chapter guide that covers key topics to entrepreneurship with culturally relevant examples; and the third contains a business plan template and detailed example.

Several students show off their booklets from the Venture U toolkit

Success Stories

In 2014 and 2015, we ran a pilot program to measure the impact of the Venture U curriculum. One of the students who took part in the pilot program, Innocent Pare, lived in extreme poverty with his five siblings and his mother. His father left no savings or investments when he passed away, so the family struggled to get enough to eat. On top of this, Innocent’s brother was afflicted with an aneurysm and the family could not afford to pay for surgery.

Then Venture U ran a pilot workshop at Innocent’s school, and he learned how to market his skills and make a profitable business. With that knowledge, he sold beaded jewelry and started a taxi business. Both ventures were successful! He made enough money to pay for his brother’s surgery and he continues to support his family with his earnings. On top of his own entrepreneurial work, Innocent now teaches workshops as a Cross Create employee.

“I have been growing in the business community with the help of the Venture guide as a tool to me in the business,” Innocent says. “I read the Venture U toolkit every day.”

Other students who have shared their successes with us rear goats, sell egg, grow maize, breed poultry, and sell scrap metals. Most of them use their revenue to pay for school, feed their families, and expand their businesses.

Resty Nakamattee (right) grows maize on a small scale. Her parents could not afford to pay for his school, so he is using his own money from the business to pay for it. He also uses it to care for his siblings.

When You Subscribe, You Change Lives

We would love for you to join us in making a difference in Uganda’s business education options. Your contributions go directly towards reducing the business failure rate in Uganda, one entrepreneur at a time. A donation that is roughly equivalent to a Netflix subscription may not feel like a lot to you, but it is life-changing for people like Innocent.

Gilbert Nuwagaba sells his bakery products at the Kiburara trading center and the Alpha and Omega Secondary School. He uses the income to support his parents, brothers, and sisters. He says Venture U taught him a lot about managing his bakery, especially how to relate to customers.

In order to get a toolkit, each person must have a sponsor (that’s you). Every month a Cross Create member chooses to support Venture U, one more student receives a toolkit. That means that if you support Venture U for a year, you are handing toolkits to 12 people who will use them to pay for school, feed their families, or cover medical costs.

We look forward to sharing with you more personal stories about the students impacted by Venture U. Spoiler alert: these kids aren’t just learning for fun — they have big plans to start supporting their families through entrepreneurship! Over time, we want to see these businesses lift families out of poverty and create thriving communities.

To those of you who are already sponsoring through us, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your generosity. To the rest of you, thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and interest. We’d love to have you on board!

Want to join us?

You can subscribe to join in on the impact at CrossCreate.co.