On Saturday October 26 at the Serena Kampala Hotel from 9:00am to 1:00pm, Vision Group will hold what has been termed as the Pakasa Forum with the general aim of explaining to people, particularly young people, the opportunities that exist in our economy for them to earn a living. Vision Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Robert Kabushenga explained to Sebidde Kiryowa and Cecilia Okoth
How exactly is Pakasa involved in this exactly?
We feel that Pakasa, as a product, has led this discussion successfully. People look forward to the product every Friday to learn how they can either start out in life, set up an enterprise or become successful by applying best business practices from real life examples.
We think that to go the extra step and create a forum that is bigger than just the newspaper reading will assist even more people to see the way in which they can earn a living.
I am being very specific about earning a living because it is more than finding a job; it is more than starting a business. That is really what the discussion is going to be.
Why a discussion of this nature; why now?
The challenge I was given after that article was that it is not enough for some body in my position; with the kind of resources that Vision Group has, to just write about the issue and leave it.
We should take some action to advance the debate further than just writing articles. We should engage in activity that will force results and cause people to react.
The main purpose for me and for the company is to change the narrative of the discussion to focus concretely on the available opportunities and how people can utilise them.
The question of how to earn a living is probably the single biggest issue and challenge that faces this country.
The problem is that the discussion is not structured and focused. It is hijacked by people with political interests.
They just want to be popular but are not actually addressing the question. Then some of the interventions like venture funds do not seem to have the potential to address the problem while some of the programmes which would be creating jobs are not being pursued.
Vision Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Robert Kabushenga explaining about the impending Pakasa forum
How exactly does the general public stand to gain from this forum?
A big section of especially the young people, has become despondent. They finish school; go out but cannot get jobs. These people need to be shown that there are other options in life to make a living.
This discussion is about showing young people that it is possible to earn a living and how they can put themselves in a position where they can earn a living.
Secondly, we need people who know what to do to take ownership of this discussion; people who have created opportunities for others to earn a living. These show the young people how to make themselves employable.
It is only then that we can move away from just whining about why there are no jobs to a step where we say; this can be done and this is how it is done because other people have tried it and achieved results.
This again takes us back to Pakasa because it shows what other people have been able to do and how.
Who exactly does this forum target?
Although we primarily want to enlighten young adults, people who are about to enter the employment bracket or who are in the job bracket but are trying to figure out what to do, you also have people who have either already made it or are much older but are still looking for ways of self-advancement.
Then there are people in positions that are capable of making a difference but are not doing it. We need to pressurise them to do it. For instance, this parliament has never discussed the question of how to create employment or how people can earn a living.
Not a single person has even tabled it as an issue for discussion and yet, if you are looking for challenges, especially at a political level, all these other things you spend time talking about are of no consequence.
The real issue is whether young people have a future out of which they can earn a living.
That is what people are looking for and if you do not have that, you are finished.
So, I think that we need to get this discussion to a level where those people start to pay attention this question.
The decisions they make and the pace at which they make them affects the way things to happen. They might not realise it but when they delay to pass the budget or when they switch money from one sector to another, it means public works cannot be carried out and if there is no work done on roads, railways, local government initiatives, people do not get work; they do not get jobs. So, we want to reach these people as well.
Actually, that is why we invited the Prime Minister so we can ask the government what they are doing about this.
This issue of people earning a living is not just a political question. It has very serious social consequences. If young people are not employed or if they have no formal mechanisms of earning a living, they will resort into criminality in order to earn a living and the social cost of that is so high or, they will become very frustrated and resort to alcohol and drugs and that will fuel a new industry.
But there are options which have been tried in Uganda and are known to be working. It is just that the orientation and the public debate has not focused on those issues.
How often is this discussion going to be held?
Well, if we get partners, we will do it on a more frequent basis but we are looking at doing it at least three to four times a year.
This is an issue you cannot solve immediately or permanently but at least the thinking needs to shift.
For instance, in the US, every month they monitor the number of jobs created by economic activity. We need to start doing that here. How much economic activity has been undertaken and what is its impact on employability.
The Pakasa Forum
We are bringing together people who know where opportunities for earning a living are; to discuss and explain them to the general public.
We have identified people we think will be essential for our discussion. They include Amama Mbabazi, the Prime Minister of Uganda; Phillip Odera, Managing Director (MD), Stanbic Bank; Richard Byarugaba, the MD, National Social Security Fund (NSSF); Mazen Mroué, the CEO, MTN Uganda; Jennifer Musisi, the Executive Director, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Bruce Robertson, South African producer dealer (Cotton and Simsim) in Uganda and one Marino, a young wrought iron fabricator, whose story we featured in the original Pakasa Youth Awards in 2011.
Entrance is free but we will have limited space for people who want to attend. But you need to do a prior registration and we will publicise how the registration can be done. We will accommodate between 100 to 300 people.
We will also have a section of invited people who can enrich the discussions with interventions from the floor.
However, the rest of the country can also follow the discussion.
We will broadcast it live across all Vision Group electronic media platforms simultaneously and give real time updates online.
We will feature the discussions that arise out of that in Pakasa.