RK: Apollo Muyanja and his team at Private Sector Foundation are doing ground breaking stuff which I think is very useful for you. What Apollo is doing is ambitious. It’s huge, if it works, it will have made a massive contribution to the problem of unemployment.
Let me welcome you. Good evening, Apollo and how are you?
AM: I am well, thank you and Good evening to you too.
RK: Tell the guys what exactly you do.
AM: I usually joke with my team that I am currently employed by unemployed youth. I am a Project Director working the Private Sector Foundation for a youth employment project we do in partnership with the Master Card Foundation Uganda.
RK: What is the Private Sector Foundation?
AM: We are the voice for the private sector in Uganda with a membership of about 230 associations within the private sector.
RK: What do you do for those people?
AM: We are their voice to government. We are their voice in Uganda. You know how business works, we are a private sector led economy. We do a lot of data crunching which we share with government and other bodies. It could be government, civil society and the private sector itself. We are the voice of the private sector.
RK: The biggest challenge of our time is how to create work opportunity for our population commonly known as the youth bulge, there are many skilled people who need to put their skills to use so they can earn a living, what exactly is your project about?
AM: Our project starts with the market. Identifying where there is a gap in the market and we focus on 5 key sectors agriculture, construction, trade and manufacturing and the tourism sector. We go in there and identify private sector firms that are willing to work in partnership with us to open up their business to be inclusive. And inclusion in this case can be to young people to get on board.
Let me paint a picture, if every Ugandan is to start their own thing, if I could use the example of Rugyeyo farm, it is going to take a while for them to get into the coffee or matooke business with the level of finesse you have so far. It takes experience. So we tell them, don’t get into this game on your own. Why don’t we connect you to Rugyeyo Farm and see if you can work with them as an out grower or as a supplier. Guess what, it’s possible that Rugyeyo farm cannot supply all their demand for now, you have two choices; either you scale your production by buying new land and hiring new workers or you could actually set up an out grower. And guess what, you actually have young people in the village who are probably unemployed. You could talk to them into doing this. They can benefit by joining you.
If I join you today as one of your out growers, you will give me access to information on standards because it’s your name on the line. You will be willing to share your bit of profit with me so that we can move together. If I give you part of my produce to sell, you hit your supply quotas, you earn money as I also earn money.
That’s pretty much the kind of business partnership we are trying to set up.
RK: When you say you go into the markets to identify gaps; what gaps have you identified so far?
AM: There are a number of gaps. Today we were launching our partnership with Mukwano Millers. Mukwano has an installed capacity of 300 metric tonnes per day for oil milling, 200 metric tonnes per day for soya extraction and about 75 metric tonnes for milling. But guess what? For all their installed capacity, they are working at about 40% efficiency all year round.
RK: Why is it that?
AM: One of the reasons why that is the way it is, as Ugandans we are not able to produce enough to run through their mill. Yet if you do the numbers, if we are able to attract the same young people to come in as out growers from sun flower or soy bean, they could actually get a good back. That is the linkage we are trying to bring in. We are saying, don’t try to export say soya bean cake to Kenya, somebody else has already done it for you, get into the supply game. If you supply what they need, we are in the middle to negotiate for you a good price for your services. In any case, one of the challenges we have on the market is that we have people who get into the agriculture game without knowing who the end buyer is going to be.
RK: Many of them do that and come here on social media and make noise.
AM: The other dilemma these guys face is lack of access to high quality input. The deal we signed with Mukwano today will come with Mukwano seed which is of high yield and disease resistant.
RK: What exactly is Mukwano offering?
AM: Mukwnao is offering a very interesting package. First of all, to the young that are willing to get on board with them as out growers, they get access to improved seed for both soya bean and sunflower. For those interested in growing, they give high yield seeds for sunflower and soya bean.
The other is of know how. It is one thing to have good seed and another to put it to good use. They get that entire support of the agronomy.
It also comes with an agro insurance plan for the worst case scenario which hardly is the case in Uganda. Even when it is unlikely to happen, they have a fall-back position. The lack of these things is what frustrates people out there to jump out of the game.
RK: What does the young person who wants to be part of the game do, what do they bring on the table as their part of the bargain?
AM: first of all, for the young people in 8 districts in northern Uganda in Dokolo, Amulata, Oyam, Apach, Agago, Padel, Omoro, Kore, Aleptong and Lira. That is our oil belt in terms of produce.
- A sober mind-set, come on board knowing that you are getting into a business. This is not a freebie. This is not a Jada lottery. Your contribution is going to be your positive attitude.
RK: So the attitude has to be right and you should be prepared to be patient?
- Then you should have access to land whether you own it or it’s your parents’ up to at least 2 acres that you can commit to this venture.
- That you are available
- In terms of age, you are between 18 and 35
- You are willing to set aside time to learn
RK: How does a guy up north get access to PSFU? You guys are in Kampala.
AM: It can be quite daunting. The good news is that we only go into bed with partners who are willing to open their doors fully. Like for Mukwano, they have a local office in Lira with a field coordinator called Robert Debwe. Robert is a son of the soil and is more than willing to help on what needs to be done. We are also going to work with local radio stations in Lango Sub Region. We are targeting to work with 50,000 young people with Mukwano alone. We are now going to start collecting young people and grouping them and hit the road.
RK: So they don’t need to come to Kampala?
AM. No, they don’t.
RK: Is there an online option?
AM: That is the next level of the game. For a very long time, a lot of the work we have been doing with farmers has been analogue but now the game has changed it is now online driven. Within the next one month, we are launching an application that all these people interested will have access to.
We are also opening up that tech space too. We know we are working with young people, we know we can no longer work with and we can no longer work in exclusion. We now that there are new services out there like mobi pay, famunera, eazy agric. We are already looking for ways we can engage them.
RK: Apart from the partnership with Mukwano, what other sectors are you looking at?
AM: Beyond agriculture, we are looking at the Construction sector, Trade, Manufacturing sector and the Tourism sector.
RK: Let’s go sector by sector beginning with tourism, what skill are you looking at?
AM: there are a number of skills in the tourism sector. Even with the hard knocks of tourism, we have seen a number of opportunities opening up. One of the companies we have sealed a partnership with is called Bird Uganda. Uganda has one of the diverse birds’ population in the world. And out of that right now, we do not have enough of them. Think g tour guides but ne who concentrates on birding alone.
RK: You mean there is need to have guides to guide on watching birds?
AM: Yes. There are so many people paying top dollar to come and see birds. Our role through Bird Uganda is to show them the opportunity that there is a link for them to Bird Uganda but also to link them to get the banks to give them loans to buy the birding equipment.
To market birding in Uganda, we have partnered with www.tubayo.com to promote/ market this service mainly around Uganda,
RK: You have talked about bird watching, apart from tour guides, what else can people look out for?
AM: When you compare ourselves with Kenya in terms of tourism, we grossly undersell ourselves. They speak to your soul. We are targeting to train our young people to train them put up top notch art work. Not just a picture. We are also working with our friends at MOTIV to look into the possibility of eventually marketing and delivering online.
Despite the amazing species of birds, we have the least footage of photographs in Uganda.
RK: There is a massive opportunity for collection for pictorials for birds that can be monetised?
AM: Yes, in December, we are going to be hosting an international birding expo and we expect visitors to come or join online through these high resolution pics online. And they will pay top dollar for it.
RK: When you talk about the birds and guides, some people underestimate the power of tips. Away from tourism, what are you doing concerning the digital world?
AM: They are massive. Master Card challenged us to work with 300,000 young people in 5 years. If you paint a picture of all these guys earning money and we have a registration of who they are, we know how much they are earning. One of the start-ups we are working with is called Utilis. Utilis is democratising the finance word. They are getting into crowd funding big time. They are challenging us to get the 300,000 young people where each saves USD 10 a year which is USD 3M which can be used for investment. All this is tech driven. Through Utilis, we are going to do massive investments in and outside Uganda and we will be able to generate a profit for these young people and send it back to them.
We are telling these young people that you do not have to only make money with your hands, you use your money to work for you.
RK: What is the timeframe for the IT world?
AM: Our doors are wide open right now. They are going to remain open for the next three years. We are working with NFT Consult. They went into transport space and we are equipping bodabodas through an app, where they do not have to go looking for passengers. It is a hailing app that they can use. The same app is used to transport cargo as well.
By 2030, Kampala is estimated to be at 10 million people.
RK: A metropolis.
AM: Yes. We need to plan ahead. Our young people need to understand that these are opportunities waiting for them. People, product and series will need to move and that will require tech solutions to do that. .
RK: I am reliably informed that one of the areas where you are looking at opportunities is digital media strategists for the leading firms and SMEs in the digital space, how are you working with that?
AM: Times have changed. The agencies we are currently working with are the old type that still use the old media. We are adapting new news of communication to reach out to them. We are engaging media strategists to offer comms support. The young people today are updated with a lot of information.
RK: What’s there in construction?
AM: Let’s look at the oil and gas sector where deals have already started flowing. The oil and gas sector is a highly regularised sector. We identify opportunities and attach the young people who want to sign up.
Within the roads sector, most of the deals are won by foreign companies because they have backing of their governments. We are putting together a vehicle that will build the capacity to lobby for the work.
RK: How do we reach out to you Apollo? How do people get themselves introduced to you?
AM: I don’t move around with a lead car, so it is very easy to get to me. We need to open up and use spaces and talk about all these things.
Mainly on twitter handles and we will share that contact details.
Comrade Otoa: What happens when Master Card says good bye? 2) Who are the young people you are targeting, is it only the guys who have gone to school? My hope is that it is open to people who are not highly educated.
AM: About sustainability, we have chosen to work with firms that have been here for a while. They have invested here and are going to remain here. We are partnering with the local banks. We believe in market based solutions.
RK: What you are saying is that we don’t need to have be educated to be a beneficiary?
AM: No. All we want are enterprising people.
Kiranda: What about Bunyoro region and I have land to grow sunflower, do they have plans for us too?
AM: You are already in business. That said, the demand that is going to come from the oil and gas sector is so huge that you might need to retire from your day job.
Mutabazi: How do we get the large corporates to support these small enterprises that are struggling to make a living?
AM: I believe in Uganda we don’t have shortage of cash. What is lacking is well thought through ideas that go through the pipelines. One of the areas where we need to enhance is the story.
Eddy Muyobo: Can companies like IBM be benefactors in the work you do?
AM: Uganda has the best climate for tech driven services. These young people will be trading using their mobile phones.
Arinda: We have around 12-17% of post-harvest losses on post agricultural products, what Apollo has in mind about that?
AM: we engage with famers that have already invested in post handlings equipment like Windwood millers, Aponye, Kawa Ko, they have all handled post handling services.