A Gentleman in Iganga

The story of Joshua, now one of our supervisors, represents the success that L-IFT has had in improving the lives of many of our respondents and researchers alike. Through working with and for L-IFT, Joshua has managed to grow financially, professionally, and personally.

In 2016, Joshua was one of our respondents for a Mastercard Foundation-funded Youth Livelihoods Diaries research project in three districts in Eastern Uganda. By being interviewed he gained a lot of basic financial knowledge about expenditure and savings. He was also taught social skills by interacting with our researcher, critical thinking by answering our questions, and discipline through the regularity of our interviews. 

Or, as he explained it himself: “L-IFT has taught me a variety of personal skills, through which I was able to mobilize the community and lead by example. They have sparked a flame of self-improvement in me.” He is now of our best supervisors while doing a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration at the same time. 

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There is a big (youth) unemployment problem in Uganda. Thousands of young people are sitting at home, unable to find a job. Even if they manage to find one, it is often one that pays very little. This is also the case for the many refugees in this country. Highly educated people who have to leave everything behind now have to survive on subsistence farming. This should not be the case; for this culturally rich and diverse region to grow it is imperative that we take advantage of all this unused talent. 

This is where L-IFT comes in. We have given many young people in this region, like Joshua, the chance to develop themselves through us, because our goal is to give these people a brighter future. 

After his interviews as a respondent, in May 2016, Joshua was selected to be one of our researchers for the FEDU (Financial and Energy Diaries in Uganda), which started in August 2016. He received training on how to use a smartphone, how to use our software, and how to interact with respondents. Through this program, he received a lot of work experience and valuable skills that can help him become eligible for other jobs. For instance, constantly meeting people from every layer of society has taught him valuable lessons that have prepared Joshua for his career. These skills are not only applicable to his job as a researcher, but also to jobs in other fields (e.g. customer care or sales) where building a good relationship with a client is crucial. After FEDU, Joshua was involved in two other projects. He has recently completed an assignment for SEEP, long-term savings groups, where he researched 15 savings groups that were formed by CARE.

After we noticed his incredible ambition and effort, he gained an assignment to become the supervisor of our current RISE financial diaries project. He received a crash course on supervisory skills, which allowed him to become a supervisor for us. Now Joshua is looking to eventually get a master’s degree. He has also used his newly gained knowledge of NGOs to start his own NGO: the Creativity, Training, and Skills Centre; “through this organization, I want to improve young people’s livelihoods. Young people should be focused on employment.” Anne Marie van Swinderen, L-IFT’s founder, said: “It has been incredible to see Joshua grow, and people like him motivate us to continue on this journey of empowerment.”

We hope to inspire an entire generation of East Africans to take matters into their own hands and improve their lives!

By: Stijin Verberne

A Gentleman in Iganga

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