Despite its unreliable nature, informal sector work represents an important lifeline for many of those who participate in it. However, restrictive measures on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) during the Covid-19 pandemic greatly affected business owners as well as all those employed in this sector. According to a report by the United Nations in Uganda, an estimate of 46 percent of workers employed in informal businesses were exposed to poverty and or business closure. 

Although MSMEs are the base of the Ugandan economy, accounting for approximately 90 percent of the entire private sector, contributing 85 percent to total employment and over 50 percent to GDP, these enterprises are weak and vulnerable to disturbances.This is because they often lack insurance or formal arrangements to maintain business location or property. Consequently, any shock, which negatively affects the operation of MSMEs, can have far reaching effects.

In the case of COVID-19, stringent control measures disrupted business operations from both the supply and demand side.This forced a big number of most micro businesses including food businesses out of business.

A case in point is that of Juliet, a micro food business owner in Mulago. Prior to the pandemic, she prepared and sold simple snacks like cassava crisps, pancakes and tea which she sold to casual labourers on their way to work. However, due to the sharp decline in the demand for her products caused by immobility of her customers during the lockdown and accumulated debt arising from rent arrears, Juliet was forced to shut down her business.

Julie Mbabazi- Beneficiary of the Community Skilling program.

Like Juliet, there are tonnes of other youth in Uganda who closed shop or even lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. Yet again the majority of these youth still lack the education and skills required to access formal employment.

Kitchen Station is therefore setting out to empower youth through equipping them with skills particularly youth stemming from under served communities. This initiative is aimed at skilling youth i order to enable them create job opportunities for themselves in the food industry. The program aims to reach out to various under served communities to identify young people engaged in or intending to join the food industry and equips them with skills that they can use to create decent jobs for themselves or to gain meaningful employment. Although the program is currently running in Kampala, it will later spread to Gulu, Jinja, Kabale and Mbarara and other parts of Uganda.

Juliet participating in Bagiya making during the training in Chusa.

Through this program, we strive to offer expertise in food enterprise development, business development support and specialized food production training to 20,000 under served youth.