EDUCATE! (Riding the Reform Wave to Scale Up Youth Entrepreneurship in Uganda) – Uganda

Home / EDUCATE! (Riding the Reform Wave to Scale Up Youth Entrepreneurship in Uganda) – Uganda


Context: Uganda has the world’s youngest population and also one of the highest youth unemployment rates, estimated at 62 per cent in 2012. The youth in Uganda lack appropriate skills needed to improve their economic lives. Uganda’s level of under-education, which is a measure of skills mismatch, was estimated at above 70 per cent in 2013. This was only close to the level recorded by Togo, Malawi and Benin. The country also experiences skills mismatch measured by differences in employment by educational attainment. Majority of jobs in Uganda are in the informal sector. This places the youth in the country in low paid jobs and highly vulnerable circumstances. The youth in Uganda seeking to start their own enterprises are often find difficulties accessing credit. This prevents them from creating opportunities for themselves. Thus, the inappropriate skills and credit barriers faced by the youth in Uganda promotes the path dependence of the youth in regard to employment and entrepreneurship.

Implementation of programme/initiative: The Educate! is an experience-based education programme implemented in Uganda by a US-based nonprofit organization from 2009 to date. It is implemented in 380 public, private and faith based secondary schools in 24 districts in Uganda as a voluntary in-school program lasting 18 months during the final two years of secondary school to better support students in their transition from school to work. It seeks to address the mismatch between education and employment opportunities in Uganda by focusing on leadership and entrepreneurship training for secondary school students and teacher training. Specifically, it focuses on student skills development, teacher training and advising on national policy. Under the programme, Educate! scholars which is a select group of secondary school students are provided with skills training in leadership, entrepreneurship, and workforce readiness alongside mentorship to start real businesses at school. The training is delivered by young entrepreneurs-mentors. As part of their work in schools, mentors are also engaged in a business accelerator programme where they receive advanced business support and capital for their enterprises. The teacher training intervention provides teachers with practical training in student-centred teaching methods to help develop students’ skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, confidence building and resource mobilization. The component on advocacy targeting high-level stakeholders is aimed at influencing policy to integrate skills based education methods into the country’s education system. In 2015, the Educate! had a total annual budget of US$2.3 million in revenue and US$1.6 million in expenses. The average direct cost per school was estimated at US$ 4,000 which is expected to drop to US$ 2,500 at full scale; cost per Educate! scholar was US$ 100 and this is expected to reduce to US$ 63. The programme is funded through a social partnership framework where institutional foundations contribute 40 per cent, family foundations (40%) and individuals (20%).

Main challenges: Initially Educate! used a cost recovery model by charging schools a nominal fee to participate in the programme. However, this did not succeed. The programme has ensured financial sustainability by experimenting with a range of cost optimizing approaches. These include growing marketplace for national youth workforce readiness education reform support; scaling up directly through the government where the one-time cost of a technical advisory is estimated at $300 per school; redesigning the Mentor role as a stipend fellowship rather than a full-time, salaried position; and planning well-calculated economies of scale. Further, although Educate! has established a clear pipeline for talent within its own organizational structure, it faces a human resource and management challenge as it expands across Uganda and internationally. It must, therefore, continue to hire the right talent, balancing an entrepreneurial spirit with the managerial skills required.

Results achieved: The direct reach of the programme is more than 100,000 students per year including 15,000 scholars. Indirect reach is estimated at more than 50,000 students annually through its work with Uganda’s National Curriculum Development Centre to improve the country’s entrepreneurship curriculum. Specifically, 94 per cent of first graduates of the programme have a business, job or attend a university and that more than 44 per cent of graduates who have a business employ at least one other person. Educate! students scored 3 and 4 per cent higher on creativity and self-efficacy, respectively; scored 20 per cent higher on savings behavior; were 64 per cent more likely to own businesses; and were 123 per cent more likely to have led a community project than the control group. Overall, Educate! students earned double the income of their peers (US$ 338 per year compared to US$ 165 for the control group). At the 2015 cost per student of US$ 100, this translates to a return on investment of nearly 5.5 times in four years. In terms of the gender dynamics, there was a 120 per cent increase in income among programme female scholars (US$ 200 more per year than their peers); a 150 per cent increase in business ownership, and a doubling in leading a community project compared to the control group. The Educate!’s female students also scored 7 and 5 per cent higher than control females in creativity and self-efficacy, respectively.

Moving Forward: To grow enough competent, committed and visionary leaders to handle the complexities of the anticipated huge international growth.

Replicability: The Educate! replicated its advocacy work in education systems change in Rwanda in 2016. Outside Uganda and Rwanda, the Educate! open source curricular materials have been “copy lifted” by non-governmental organizations in Africa, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, North America and South America. The drivers behind the success and scaling is that the Educate! programme started by identifying the origin of the skills gap in Uganda. It then focused its interventions on shifting the dominant method of teaching from rote memorization to experiential learning, and the contents of entrepreneurial education from highly theoretical to skill-based. It also benefitted from  good timing, tapping into both a growing demand by youth for more relevant, skills-based entrepreneurship education and the government’s recognition of the need to reform the country’s entrepreneurship curriculum; deliberate scaling up strategy, which included designing for scaling up at the outset, and making replicability and cost-efficiency as indicators of progress; taking advantage of urgent policy opportunities within the national education system to catalyze systems level change; pacing up the scaling process, investing in tracking and analyzing impact, and leveraging technology for back office improvements.


Kwauk, C. and Robinson, J.P. (2016). Educate!: Riding on the Reform Wave to Scale Up Youth Entrepreneurship in Uganda, Centre for Universal Education at Brookings. viewed on 3rd January 2017

Project Details

Date: July 24, 2017

 Previous Next