Graduates have been advised to use acquired practical skills to start up their own businesses other than moving from one company to another searching for jobs.
The call was made by Gudula Naiga Basaza, the chairperson of Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Ltd (UWEAL) while addressing the graduates during the first graduation ceremony of New Faces New Voices Uganda Chapter, held at Graca Machel Vocational Training Center in Kyebando, Kawempe South Division.
The centre draws its female students aged between 15-35 years from Kampala's poorest suburbs of Kawempe, Kanyanya, Kyebando, Kalerwe, Mulago and Bwaise.
During the event, 55 girls were awarded certificates in different practical entrepreneurial skills courses including tailoring, catering, hair dressing and computer science.
"You have been empowered through practical courses and attained skills that are going to raise your confidence and esteem, these skills are a ray of hope, have self-drive and use them to start up your own businesses and also employ others," Basaza advised.
"As women entrepreneurs, we do not only develop our selves, but contribute towards our country's economy. There is more need for increased women entrepreneurs in the country, I therefore implore you to start up own businesses to employ yourselves” she added.
She explained that government together with World Bank gave sh265b to promote different business ventures for both men and women and therefore, they should take advantage and benefit from such projects.
Justine Kasule Lumumba, the secretary general of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party who also attended the function applauded the centre's leadership for their efforts geared towards uplifting the standards of the girl child by equipping them with entrepreneurial skills especially those from poor backgrounds.
Lumumba asked the graduates to organize themselves into groups in their respective courses and ask their leaders to help them access money under the youth livelihood program in which government earmarked sh265b to empower the poor and unemployed youth countrywide to start up income generating activities.
"You can form SACCO and with support of your leaders, can access money for capital from Microfinance support centre or from the youth livelihood funds, but an individual cannot access this money, it is only given to groups, you form groups and can get money as capital to start up your own businesses," Lumumba said.
She however cautioned the graduates to be disciplined, explaining that their businesses require high levels of discipline and good public relations is very crucial in their fields of work.
She used this chance to ask parents to talk to restrain their children from getting involved in any form of violence during elections.
"There are people that are going around telling your children especially those from Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono that on the day of voting, your children should go on the streets of Kampala. However, they do not tell them what they will be doing there," said Lumumba.
"Do not allow your children to do that, first of all, you do not know what your children will be doing on Kampala streets, they may be involved in chaos and the state will arrest them, or they may be shot at, what if chaos erupts out and in the process of running, your child dies in a stampede, or knocked down by a speeding car and die. We want the children of Uganda to live and have a good life," she added.
Teopista Ssekito Ntale, country director, New Faces New Voices, Uganda chapter noted that though they would want to bring in more beneficiaries, financing is still a big challenge and the centre does not have enough facilities to cater for them.
"We have 600 female applicants that want to enroll for the next intake, however, we cannot take in all these because of limited resources, we need more support to be able to enroll more girls and women," she said.
Lumumba pledged that after the forth coming elections, government will sponsor 100 girls to undergo skills training at the centre.
The centre is one of the training programs of New Faces New Voices, an initiative of Graca Machel, the wife of the late Nelson Mandela.
It is a Pan-African advocacy group focusing on expanding the participation, influence and empowerment of women and girls in the financial sector and is currently operating in 18 African countries.