Youth to Work- Empowering young women entrepreneurs
Growing up, I watched how my mother toiled from one insecure job to another in order to meet our household’s basic needs. This was due to her skill gap caused by her inability to complete her secondary school education due to the political instability in Northern Uganda at the time. It is from this early life experience that I learned the value of educating and empowering the girl child and drew the inspiration to found Shetechtive Uganda. Shetechtive Uganda is a social enterprise that empowers girls and young women with technology skills training to enable them to compete in today’s job market.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Shetechtive Uganda has been involved in ensuring education continuity for marginalized groups of girls and young women by selling study tablets and laptops to them on installment payment plans to ensure that they can continue studying remotely despite schools being closed. More so, seeing the COVID-19 pandemic disrupt education for over 15million Ugandan learners reminded me of my mother’s experience and I did not want other learners’, especially young women’s education to be disrupted. The COVID-19 experience re-ignited the fire within me to create an e-learning model that will be used to develop an e-learning policy for Ugandan public schools with an aim of facilitating the shift from traditional to electronic learning.
The major challenge that I have faced as a woman entrepreneur and change agent is limited access to finance especially as a female-led organization. Another challenge is the lack of support structures for startups which result in high operational costs; making it difficult for social enterprises like Shetechtive to survive and thrive. The last challenge that I have faced as a female startup founder is one that many who brave this path face. Keeping Shetechtive Uganda’s small team of employees and volunteers motivated when the enterprise is not yet breaking even is challenging.
The Youth to Work program has equipped me with business analysis skills that have enabled me to do comprehensive and unbiased analysis, identify gaps in my business and apply effective solutions. Women entrepreneurs need business analysis skills in order to expertly carry out their enterprise functions and improve them.
Through the CMI training that I had during the Youth to Work program, I have learned that due to the fact that Shetechtive Uganda is still a small organization with few employees, it should adopt a flat organizational structure that ensures faster problem solving and decision making in order to keep its small team motivated. It is crucial for female entrepreneurs to know what organizational structure and leadership and management practices to adopt in their enterprises to keep their employees/contractors motivated in order for them to ably contribute to the achievement of enterprise objectives.
Overall, I believe there are still many structural changes that need to be implemented to adequately support young entrepreneurs. However, I am glad to have been part of the Youth to Work programme that has given me the skills I needed to be a better leader to my team and grow my business effectively.
This article was written by Rebecca Nanono, a Youth to Work Junior Associate with Challenges Uganda.