Youth Development

Located in Bunga, a peri-urban area of Kampala, the Fontes Youth Development Centre offers short- and long-term courses to disadvantaged young people from the local community.

Growing up in Uganda

The main problem of youths in Uganda is unemployment. Despite a national economic growth rate of 6% per year, the formal sector is not able to absorb the fast growing population. Every second Ugandan is below the age of 15 and that will most likely make the situation worse in the near future. As a consequence, youth all over Uganda are struggling to find their place in society and crime, prostitution and drug abuse are prevalent among young people.

This situation originates out of a number of reasons, one of them being the formal education system that does not focus on practical and relevant skills. Even university graduates spend years in unemployment, while the private sector experiences a shortage of skilled workers. Most youth are poorly equipped to sell themselves in a competitive labour market and receive very little career guidance to improve their situation.

Developing the right solution

In early 2011, Fontes Foundation was contacted by a local youth group in Makindye, a suburb of Kampala, to address the issue. Fontes Foundation carried out a background study of the situation through interviews and field analysis, in order to develop a concept that would respond to the needs of the employers, the market, and the youth themselves.

Plenty of employment opportunities emerged, but they required entrepreneurial skills, personal development capabilities and a very strong work ethics. Equipped with this knowledge, Fontes Foundation started working on the Fontes Youth Development Centre. With generous funding from the Balder Foundation in Norway, the Centre was built in 2011 in a simple and cost-effective structure made of shipping containers.

Help us grow the Youth Centre and accept more students.
A $40 donation could support a month of quality lectures in basic English and literacy to one student.

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The Fontes Youth Development Centre offers a full spectrum of courses to address the needs of the community. The Core Course is designed for students with at least a few years of secondary education and it equips them with sufficient knowledge to enter the job market or start a small business. The short courses are accessible to those students that haven’t been to secondary school and offer an entry point into the services of the Centre.

Core Course

The Core Course is a 6 months full-time programme structured around Business English, Entrepreneurship, ICT and Personal Development classes. As a final exam, students present a business plan to a panel of experts, using the full spectrum of skills they acquired.

Short Courses

The Fontes Youth Development Centre offers Short Courses both in English and Computer Skills, aimed at those with education levels below secondary school. These courses allow a motivated, hard-working student to acquire sufficient skills to then move on to the Core Course.

Mentorship Programme

Throughout the Core Course, students are followed by a mentor to build their confidence, a vision in their life and receive much needed career advice. In addition, the Centre regularly hosts motivational talks from successful entrepreneurs or career coaches.

Follow up

Fontes Foundation follows up with students for at least 2 years with continuous mentorship and guidance. Further support is offered by the Alumni Organisation through networking opportunities and business development services.

Single Mothers Programme

Uganda has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Sub-Saharan Africa. Many of these young mothers are forced to drop out of school due to their family responsibilities. The Single Mothers Programme (SMP) was designed to support teen mothers in setting up small businesses in hair dressing, baking, beadwork, soap making and several other different trades. These micro-businesses can help them provide for themselves and their families and escape the cycle of poverty.

The Single Mothers Programme trains over 200 women every year. In addition to the training, childcare services are provided, for the women to be able to attend the sessions without being interrupted by their children. Almost 100 children come to Fontes Youth Development Centre with their mothers every year. The trainings take 12 weeks and are divided into only 4 sessions a month. The centre has been able to facilitate over 6 training modules a year since it was piloted in August 2014 and supports over 40 women monthly.

With funding from the Sibylle Robert Walter Foundation the Programme continues to provide skilling for women in various trades as a direct result, employment opportunities and micro businesses have opened up. Participation of the women at the centre has also impacted the wellbeing of their children who are able to enjoy a protected environment with a child minder and toys.

Would you like to sponsor the Single Mothers Programme?
With $100 you can finance a full-day workshop and teach the girls how to run a small business.

Donate now

Recreational Activities

Since the launch of Fontes Foundation’s Youth Development Centre (FYC) in 2012, we have been organising recreational activities open to the entire local community. The foundation of our Music Dance and Drama Team (MDD) was followed by Fontes Football Club. The initial idea was twofold. By engaging with the local community, we aimed to learn more about the challenges people face. Additionally, we sought to extend our reach and spread the word about the education opportunities we offer.

We are delighted that our projects overshot the goals we had initially set. The Fontes Cultural Troupe performs modern and traditional dances from all cultures in Uganda. Their shows at the centre are very entertaining and always well received. To unfold their creativity, dancers are invited to choreograph their own performances and they have been writing plays on relevant issues such as HIV/AIDS.As teams have developed over time, our MDD group is ready to step to the next level and perform at weddings and tourist events. A concrete business plan is currently being compiled for the MDD team soon to be self-sustainable. With the growing tourism industry in Uganda, it bears the potential of offering additional sources of income to the members.

The Football Team is not only officially registered in Uganda Football Association (FUFA); it also turned out to be a spring board for some of the players. Coach Vialli’s connections allowed a couple players to play for teams in higher leagues, where they earn money. Furthermore, two players received football scholarships from high schools and were able to go back to school and finish their education.

Job Placement Programme

Following our holistic approach to youth development, Fontes Foundation aims to support graduates of our Youth Development Centre in starting their professional careers. We therefore partner with companies across different sectors that are willing to work with Kampala’s youth.
Fontes gives the students a sound foundation to grow, teaching Business, ICT, English and Personal Development for six months. Thereafter, the graduates conduct internships at one of our partner companies for three months, where they apply their newly developed skills in a practical setting. After the internships, students will either be taken on full time by their current employers, find a new position or use their expertise to start their own micro-startups.
We support a positive outcome for all involved persons by first clearing prospects and expectations with both the students and the partnering company. We then collectively compose an agreement that includes expectations, as well as tasks and responsibilities for the trainees. The second part of the agreement guides the employer by mapping out theoretical and practical skills and knowledge the students are meant to acquire during the internship. We stay in touch with the participants on employer and employee side during and after the internship to assist in the successful implementation of the agreement. Additionally, we track general trends and developments through a digitized database, which will help us improve the set up in the long run.
In line with the Job Placement Programme we recently started the hosting of annual career events. The first episode was held on Friday, June 2nd at our head office in Kampala. We were happy to host 16 companies and more than a hundred guests. Looking forward, we strive to enhance our network of partners and understanding of the job market in Uganda and thereby grow as an organization to most effectively assist our students.

Fontes Foundation has also been running a Scholarship Program – read more on it here.

Latest news

Keep updated with the latest activities at the Youth Development Centre. Whether it’s a motivation talk or a practical skills workshop, the atmosphere at the Centre is always buzzing with business ideas and positive spirit.

Michael PletscherYouth Development