Dahabshiil, US Embassy partner to identify youth talent in Uganda

International money transfer company Dahabshiil has partnered with the US Embassy in Uganda for a youth entrepreneurship hackathon that will be held in Kampala from 8th-10th January, 2015.

The event dubbed +256 Rising, is designed to unlock talent, creativity and innovation potential amongst Ugandan youths in order to help create jobs and reduce unemployment. Teams will develop concepts; work with mentors from places like Silicon Valley; build prototypes; test, iterate, and refine these prototypes to pitch their business ideas to a judging panel, live audience and online crowd. The winning team will receive $5,000 of seed funding and six months of mentorship and training at a start-up incubator in Kampala.

Dahabshiil’s Group CEO Abdirashid Duale, when commenting on the initiative said

“We believe in the power of entrepreneurship to dramatically change the socioeconomic landscape in Africa. Youth entrepreneurs, in particular will be key drivers of innovation and future economic growth.”

Uganda has a rich youth population who can benefit from this program. Statistics indicate that 77 percent of Uganda’s population are under 30 years of age, while there are 7,310,386 youth from the ages of 15-24 years of age living in Uganda.  Nearly 80 percent of people in Uganda and across African countries work in the informal sector. As a result, many of the 11 million youth entering Africa’s labour market every year are tasked with creating their own jobs or face unemployment.

Duale sees this as an opportunity

“Similar to Dahabshiil, many of these entrepreneurs have overcome hurdles and challenges and are now making a difference in their communities. We have worked with a range of cross-sector startups across Africa and are proud to be supporting youth entrepreneurs in Uganda.”

The US Government is prioritising entrepreneurship as an engine of economic growth and stability in Africa and other regions, as reflected by the proliferation of new programmes and initiatives, including President Obama’s Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) and the last year’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit was held in Kenya. The next GES will be held in Silicon Valley.

A spokesman from the U.S. Mission in Kampala, said

“The hackathon represents part of the Mission’s ongoing efforts and key goal of increasing economic opportunities for Ugandans across the country. In addition, the U.S. Mission supports this program to spur local technology and start-up industries that can in turn create jobs, especially for youth.”

+256 Rising is being organised by social impact organisation Affinis Labs and supported by the Ugandan Muslim Youth Development Forum; alumni from President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative; Generation Change; Angels Initiative; and Maya Launchpad.

Quintan Wiktorowicz, co-founder and managing partner of Affinis Labs, added

“We hope this will be the first of many special events in Africa designed to help unlock the economic potential of youth. For every rising entrepreneur, there are thousands of other youth with the potential to build businesses, create jobs, and help their communities. The challenges are great, but the potential is greater.”

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