By Racheal Kiiza
Noeline Kirabo is a family therapist by profession but her passion is social entrepreneurship. She has over twelve years’ experience in the non-profit sector, mainly working with children, youth, women and community self-help groups. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Kyusa, a registered non-profit organization in Uganda that empowers out-of-school youth in urban slums to develop passion-driven, sustainable careers.
Q 1. What sparked the creation of Kyusa?
Noeline Kirabo (NK): Kyusa is a reflection of my personal journey. I grew up in an urban slum and, as a former drop out, I know from first-hand experience the struggles and challenges that dropouts face while attempting to integrate into the labor market.
I built my resume by taking loads of free online courses until I got my first formal job in 2006. I worked my way up the career ladder and was living my dream life. However in 2011, the question of legacy began to bother me. I wondered about what I wanted to be remembered for. During one of my lunch breaks I shared my life story with a friend for the very first time and she was in awe. She couldn’t imagine how I’d overcome so much to get to where I was.
It was at that moment that I realized my story could motivate and inspire other people. I began to do motivational talks and presentations in schools, youth groups and churches. By the end of 2012, I knew that my time was up in my job and that I was ready to pursue my passion full time. I resigned from my work place after receiving a scholarship in India, under Kanthari, to undertake a course in social entrepreneurship. What was then a concept became a fully designed project and Kyusa was birthed as a social enterprise in 2014.
Q 2. Briefly describe what Kyusa is.
NK: Kyusa is a non-profit in Kampala, Uganda that empowers out-of-school youth in urban slums to turn their passions into sustainable careers. The organization addresses the lack of economic opportunities for school dropouts through an innovative, holistic program. The program uses free online courses, mentoring, skills development and entrepreneurship training. Kyusa restores lost hope and dignity to youth who would otherwise never have an opportunity to positively contribute to the Ugandan economy. Kyusa is a registered NGO in Uganda and has been in operation since May 2014.
Kyusa offers research-based curricula that develop key professional skills, leadership skills, entrepreneurship skills, employable skills, computer literacy, and financial literacy while also improving their self-awareness, self-confidence and self-management. Kyusa training is an experiential learning program, one that seeks to equip youth to become job creators, successful entrepreneurs and peer leaders in their communities as well as career fields.
Q 3. Describe Kyusa’s impact on the community thus far.
NK: By the end of 2016, 250 youth will have graduated from the Kyusa program.
Kyusa has a success rate of 80% for alumni and program graduates. 60% of the youth secure employment or start their own business by the time they graduate from the program and 80% within three months of graduating from the program.
Kyusa graduates have started catering business, events management companies, social enterprises, a football academy, Poultry farms, commercial farming, and electronic repair shops among other ventures. Others have secured formal employment.
Q 4. What are some of Kyusa’s key milestones in the last three years?
NK: The list below outlines some of our accomplishments –
- Candle light award first runner up – 2013
- Dewey Winburne community service Award Honoree 2014
- Certificate of recognition from Rotary Club Kampala North- 2015
- Act Award first runner up – 2016
- Mandela Washington Fellows Host Agency
Q 5. What are your core values?
NK: Resilience, hard work and positive attitude
Q 6. What book are you reading curently?
NK: “Think better, live better” by Joel Osteen
Q 7. What song can’t you get enough of ?
NK: “Way maker” by Sinach
Q 8. Any advice to young entrepreneurs?
NK: Definitely. Do something you’re passionate about and you will never regret it. Dream big and be willing to start small. Grow with your vision. Be resilient and hard working and invest in people, because that is what business is all about.