Impact Stories & Blogs
Our team share their insights and perspectives on the impact our program is having on youth in East and Central Africa.
By Ahumuza Ignatius, Uganda (Cohort 14)
Born in a large family of 18 children in a small poverty-ridden village in Masindi, Uganda, my family depended on peasant farming for our livelihood. This automatically made my siblings and me farmers by birth, leaving us with no other career choices.
This however turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Backed by my past experiences as a son of a peasant farmer, I was inspired to start the Art Planet Academy in 2015 when I was just 19 years old. By then, the Academy was simply an initiative that promoted agriculture within educational institutions through embracing waste recycling. As such, learners used to recycle waste like sacks and car tires into planting material by filling them with soil and using decomposable waste such as kitchen refuse recycled to form manure.
My admission to the YALI program was an eye opener to the importance of passion in one’s career path. The YALI effect after attending the program evolved Art Planet Academy into something bigger and better!
The systematic arrangement of the YALI activities and syllabus prompted me to self-reflect not only about my life, but also about my organization and therefore devise means of improving each of these aspects. The key lessons from the training I received at the Center that I always infuse in my business is to create solutions with my beneficiaries and following up on my commitments.
Equipped with this knowledge from the YALI Program, we were able to re-model, form a strong team and realize real impact.
Before joining YALI, I had a group of 12 trainers from one university and was working with only 18 schools, training 50 children per school every 3 months. This meant a total of 2700 learners a year. After joining YALI, I realized the importance of forming reliable teams, networking and forming partnerships. It’s upon these lessons that when I came back to Uganda, I strengthened my team by forming partnerships with one more university, which increased the number of volunteer trainers to 40. Through these volunteers, we’ve been able to reach 44 schools training 6600 learners in just 10 months. We are now considering to recruit high school leavers as interns so they can become our volunteer trainers during their vacations. This is so due to their availability and reliability
To date, Art Planet Academy has grown into an agricultural college and hub that creates climate smart agricultural innovations, tests them at the center of agricultural innovations and then incorporates them into a practical agriculture training curriculum. This curriculum is used to train people in the usage and application of climate-smart agricultural practices at the center.
Because of this continued self-motivation, early this year, I was nominated as one of Africa's top 15 young entrepreneurs by the Anisha Prize which is Africa's premier award for her youngest entrepreneurs run by the African Leadership Academy and the MasterCard Foundation. Of these 15 entrepreneurs, I was awarded as the best agricultural entrepreneur and my company won the award of the best Agricultural Enterprise in Africa.