Recently, the MTN Foundation Uganda announced the 100 lucky youth who were enrolled for the pioneer cohort of the Youth Empowerment Program. The program that promises to be a mainstay on MTN Uganda’s corporate social responsibility agenda will be offering technology training to youths in the various areas of their interest with the aim of empowering them to make meaningful contributions to their communities as the country embraces the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We had a one on one with ENID EDROMA, the MTN Uganda General Manager Corporate Services about the details of the program and why the company is undertaking this auspicious initiative.
Briefly tell us about the Youth Empowerment Program and what it entails.
The Youth Empowerment Program (YEP), like the name suggests is an initiative by MTN Foundation Uganda to invest in the country’s biggest social capital that is the youth of this nation to enable them not only to contribute positively to the growth and development of this country but to also enable them to create employment through equipping them with the necessary job skills for the 21st century. In a nutshell, the YEP is aimed at designing and delivering practical knowledge and skills experience for youth and young adults in preparation for the 4th Industrial Revolution.
As a profit making Company, what is MTN’s motivation for undertaking such a project?
Its true MTN is a profit making business but then it is also a corporate citizen. As such, it has a responsibility to the communities within which it operates. As a corporate citizen, MTN prides in its robust Corporate Social Responsibility programs that are executed under the MTN Foundation, which is also rolling out the YEP as a way of giving back to the community. So in doing this, we are able to give back to the community but most importantly, we are also empowering communities to thrive. This is embedded in our Vision as MTN; to deliver a bold digital world to all our customers across our footprint.
Why did MTN choose to work specifically with the youth?
As a matter of fact, we have many initiatives that cut across the gender divide. But in this particular case, our decision was centered on the fact that the youth are the majority of Uganda’s population most of them remain unemployed due to the lack of the requisite skills that the job market demands. Therefore as MTN Uganda, we took a conscious decision to supplement government’s efforts in filling this gap by choosing to empower the youth of this country by giving them skills that will enable them to become a building block of this country, starting with their communities.
What kind of youth are eligible for this program?
The program targets youths who are passionate about harnessing the practical application of innovative ICT solutions to solve their communities’ most pressing challenges. It may interest you to know that in this cohort, we have youths of various academic qualifications ranging from the Masters’ level of education to even those with no academic qualifications, but rather a profound interest in the field of technology and innovation. I am happy to inform you that we have a pool of trainees from various fields of practice.
How will the training be carried out in the face of this Covid19 pandemic and how long will it last?
The training will be largely online with very limited and controlled small group sessions. The total training time frame from initiation to graduation will be 6 months.
With the actual training in ICDL taking 3 months and the other 3 months dedicated to business incubation.
What are some of the challenges back in the communities that the youth on the program are hoping to solve upon their successful completion of their training?
The problems will be identified by the youth groups themselves. However, they have to be in line with our five thematic areas namely; Agriculture, Education, Health, Technology, Youth Empowerment which are also the MTN foundations focus areas.
I’m sure many youths out there would like to be part of this training. When will the next round of applications begin?
This is going to be an annual initiative. We will be announcing the 2021 intake this July.
Should we hope for a bigger number of participants the next time?
Yes, we hope to reach out to more young people; our vision is to grow our annual intake to 200 youths per year but for now the second intake will also target to admit only 100 participants.