All projects

Agri-Business Skilling for Youth in a Refugee Context (ABSYR)

Start project:
  • 2018
  • Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • ZOA

A partnership to promote gainful self employment in agribusiness for vulnerable youth in northern Uganda

According to UNHCR, the total registered number of refugees is 1.362 million (UNHCR, 31 October 2019). Of these, Yumbe district hosts 230,423 refugees in Bidibidi Settlement, which is recognized as the third largest refugee settlement in the world. The need for income generation and gainful (self-) employment are high with most families dependent on humanitarian assistance for food and shelter provision,among others.

¨Agri-Business Skilling for Youth in a Refugee Context ̈ is a three-year project implemented by ICCO in consortium with ZOA and War Child Holland in Yumbe district, northern Uganda. ABSYR employs an innovative approach with 5,000 youth between 18 and 35 years from both refugee and host communities in the district.

The overall aim of the approach is to enhance their social and economic well being by integrating psycho-social and livelihoods support into programs aimed at facilitating their engagement in gainful (self-) employment in agri-business.

Expected results

5,000 youth (200 groups) equipped with skills for gainful (self-)employment in agri-business by end 2020

1,000 youth (40 groups) supported with advanced business development services stimulating a business ecosystem in the District

Preliminary Achievements

Membership of VSLA saving groups increased from 22% to 95% of the youth

Average monthly additional saving per group: €256 (range €59 – 555)

Number of businesses created: 200 (out of target 200)

26 groups (650 youth) legally registered at District level and have opened Cente VSLA Bank account at Centenary Bank

Quotes from Beneficiaries

Kenyi Michael, South Sudanese Refugee, Bidibidi settlement

¨Through finance management training our farming group saved € 194 within six months and we were able to plant groundnuts on 1.5 acres of rented land¨

Loyce Afalu, youth group member, Ariwa sub county

¨After training in savings and business from ABSYR, I borrowed money from our youth group and started my tailoring business in my compound. I started with five fabrics but now I have many customers and can afford more.¨

Project Updates

Business Impacted by Covid-19

Joyce Afalu is a 33 year old resident of Yumbe district, which hosts over 1 million refugees in Bidibidi refugee settlement, one of the world´s largest refugee settlements. As one of 5000 youth being supported with life skills, business development and financial literacy training under the Agri Business Skilling for Youth in a Refugee Context project, she was able to start a local tailoring business in May 2019. Now just a month before the first birthday of her business, Joyce has no time to celebrate. She is too busy readjusting her working environment to make sure that her business does not completely collapse under the weight of restrictions on trade, movement and association laid by the Uganda government, to prevent the spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic. In a region of the world where daily wages from the informal sector account for the survival for over 80% of the national working population, Joyce represents millions of vulnerable Ugandans whose very livelihoods hang in the balance. We recently talked to Joyce about how recent events have impacted on her business plan. ¨There was a huge gap in the clothing industry in our community when I started my tailoring business last year. I got a loan of UGX 500,000 from our youth group Village Saving and Loan Association (VSLA), which I used to buy five pieces of African ´kitenge´ fabrics and set up my working area within our home compound. In our locality I am the only person with tailoring equipment, so I got so many customers. Now I specialise in making women and childrenś dresses, and custom fitting shirts for men. Even during the lockdown, I am still receiving some few orders, but I am now running out of fabric because of the closure of the Uganda and Congo borders. I used to travel twice a month to Arua town to purchase fabrics, but that is now impossible because of transport issues and also, the price of African ´kitenge´ fabric has increased. With the new social distancing rules, our VSLA can no longer hold meetings. Our annual share out meeting which was supposed to happen on 29th April 2020 has been postponed to the end of May. So I hope the lockdown will not be extended and we can meet to access our savings. My customers have greatly reduced since everyone was forced to stay home. I used to receive at least 50 customers weekly before the lockdown, but now I get less than 15 customers every week. Since the government ordered that only food based businesses can stay open, I only see customers during market days on Monday and Friday. They find it convenient to pass via my home on their way from the food market. In such a time I cannot close my business because it's currently our only sure source of income. Since my work involves a lot of body contact while taking measurements, I am taking some actions which I hope can protect everyone. I put up a hand washing facility (tippy tap) with water and soap in the compound at home. Every customer that comes home has to wash his or her hands before entering and after leaving the house. My children also love watching me working, but now for their safety, I no longer allow them to come to the work area or just roam around the community like in the past. Soap has become slightly more expensive, but it is a necessity so I try as much as possible to keep it available at home. As a family, it is our absolute priority to ensure that there is enough food for the children at home. Although income from the business has significantly reduced and my husband who is a teacher can no longer teach because schools are closed, we were recently able to sell cassava and maize grain from our garden to earn some money and buy some essential items.¨ ¨Agri-Business Skilling for Youth in a Refugee Context ̈ is a three-year project implemented by ICCO in consortium with ZOA and War Child Holland in Yumbe district, northern Uganda. ABSYR employs an innovative approach with 5,000 youth from both refugee and host communities in the district to enhance their social and economic well being by integrating psycho-social and livelihoods support into programs aimed at facilitating their engagement in gainful (self-) employment in agri-business.

Youths earning big from onions

Gole Kumugum Youth group is a refugee group residing in Yangani Refugee Settlement in Ariwa sub-county in Yumbe District. Out of the 25 members in the group, 84 percent are females. At the time of arrival in Uganda in 2017, Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) allocated 30 by 30 plot of land to each household, which was not enough for commercial farming. In order to achieve their plan to grow for commercial production, the group decided to rent a plot measuring 48 meters by 50 meters at $0.02 per year. The group received business grant of $1070 after their impressive performance at business plan competition held in March 2019. She notes that the is suitable for onion growing and expects gross revenue of at least $936 by December 2019 from the sale of onion. Gole Kumgum is one of the groups that received a three months training in Village Savings and Loans Association. Within less than six month after recieving VSLA support, the group has now saved $682 and loaned out $169 at 10% interest rate. Group members borrow money for business. ¨There is a considerable demand for maize within the region. Four members have borrowed to buy and sell maize to big buyers from Yumbe District, ¨ says the Agnes Awate, Treasurer of the group The future looks bright for Gole Kumugum youth. ¨We plan to increase the acreage to 2.5acres for planting onion (2 acres) and groundnuts (0.5 acres) and hopes to earn at least $1,873 next season , from March to July 2020¨, says Job Isaac, Chairperson of the group. This group expects to have saved at least $2,000 by Dec. 2020 for agro-processing equipment and sewing machines for women. ¨We are very happy for this project because we have become real farmers¨, says Job Isaac, chairperson.

EU Aid Volunteers Deployment Program - FCA

EU AID Volunteers - ACT2Aid Volunteers for East Africa - is a project within the framework of ...

Project started:
  • 2019
More info
Read more about EU Aid Volunteers Deployment Program - FCA
No results

As of 1st January 2021 ICCO has joined forces with Cordaid and continues as one organization under the name Cordaid.

ICCO’s international website will remain online for the time being and can be visited here or go to Cordaid: