More than 3,000 youth attended the Sawa World Day in Kampala, Uganda last year.
This spring, organizer Daphne Nederhorst hopes to draw 10,000 people to the event, which aims to help marginalized youth start their own businesses.
The Vancouverite and founder of the NGO Sawa World has even drawn the attention of Richard Branson and his non-profit foundation Virgin Unite, which promoted Nederhorst’s I Am the Solution campaign on its website.
Proceeds from the campaign, which seeks to raise $10,000, will fund the second Sawa World Day on March 21.
“The impact that we want to have is that we want to host 10,000 vulnerable and unemployed youth from Uganda and the East African region and empower them with local, simple skills that allow them to start a small business the next day,” Nederhorst told the Straight by phone.
The free, one-day exhibition will feature a series of workshops hosted by local leaders on practical solutions for self-employment.
Nederhorst said some of those initiatives include using local wastepaper and sawdust to create fuel briquettes and growing edible gardens in confined spaces.
“They can quickly raise their income from $1 to $2-$4 per day,” Nederhorst said. “And that’s really significant. For youth that make $1, then $2 to $4, that means that they can actually now pay their school fees, they can pay their basic necessities, and can pay their rent, versus not being able to do that.”
According to Nederhorst, unemployment among youth in Uganda is between 60 and 80 percent.
She noted her vision for Sawa World began as a child growing up in Tanzania, where her parents worked in the international aid sector.
“I travelled to rural and urban villages and communities and got to see extreme poverty when I was very, very young,” she recounted.
“But also had amazing parents who said that the best way to solve this is with the people’s own ideas, and I saw these amazing leaders in every community that we travelled to.”
Sawa World was established in 2007 and is based in both Uganda and Vancouver.