Homemade soap

Practical entrepreneurship is the answer to COVID19 economic crisis in Africa.

Only practical entrepreneurship skills can get young people through the COVID19 economic crisis in Africa, says Kalyango Shafic.

COVID-19 changed almost everything, in the blink of an eye. Within months it went from a  problem confined to Wuhan, China to a pandemic affecting everyone, in almost every corner of the world. 13.6 million people have been infected and nearly a million have died at time of writing. 

Uganda went in to lockdown in early March 2020 and most economic activity was halted. This left many young people wondering what to do, especially since the majority of them were nkola mere yaleero. Nkola mere yaleero or Zenkola Zendya are those in casual employment, working for and living on a daily wage. For these young people lockdown meant almost immediate unemployment and economic crisis. This economic crisis could easily spiral into further social crises; poverty, self neglect, violence, abuse and crime. 

What young people need is something to do, to stay busy, and to earn a living. While I was volunteering with Restless development I learnt a number of skills just like this. Production skills like book making and soap and shampoo manufacture can be made productive and lucrative commercial activities, require minimal starting capital and can be operated at home 

By July I had started a campaign, using my own resources and those I got from well wishers (including eventually those who had found success with the skills I taught). The first family I taught were from Bwaise. I taught three girls, one in primary school, another one in secondary and the third, Safinah, a graduate, both the theory and the practice. I showed them where they could get the raw materials, produce the goods and market the products. They picked things up quickly and seemed to enjoy their training. 

Ever since lockdown we had been doing nothing, I used to help in my friend’s saloon to earn money but now saloons are closed and I’m not sure when or if they will open again. But now I have acquired another skill and in no time we are going to put it in practice and start earning something.”


Since then I have trained a lot more young people with these money making skills. 

I was working in a market selling second hand clothes but ever since lockdown I have been hustling to put a coin in my pocket, but with this skill I believe I have got a solution.”


I was working in a restaurant but my boss closed the business after running out of capital and I have been wondering what to do next but with this I have changed from a job seeker to a job creator and soon I will engage my friends and we can all start working.”


These comments are evidence of the success of my campaign, and the ability of young people to solve their own problems if they are given the opportunity, and the necessary skills. 

It’s high time for us to accept that the virus will be with us for some time. We have to look for ways to avoid, prevent, cure or even learn to live with it. The economic situation will not be back to normal tomorrow and life has to go on. As young people we need to spread practical skills to maintain and improve our economic statuses despite COVID19. Let’s not wait to deal with the results which can arise from unemployment, let’s act today. Practical entrepreneurship and skill sharing is essential to get vulnerable young people through this crisis. 

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Practical entrepreneurship is the answer to COVID19 economic crisis in Africa.

by Kalyango Shafic Reading time: 2 min