Breaking Out of Poverty to a Better Future Through Commercial Agriculture - GOAL Global Skip to content

Breaking Out of Poverty to a Better Future Through Commercial Agriculture


May 10, 2024 • 2 min read

Graduating from university with a bachelor's degree often comes with grand aspirations. Among the most common dreams is landing a prestigious job and launching into life with comfort. Graduates often envision a luxurious office, a shiny car, and a big house. Jonan Alinda, a 28-year-old young man who graduated from Kyambogo University in 2019, earning a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance shared these dreams. He swiftly secured a position at a microfinance firm with a monthly salary of UGX 700,000 (about $180). However, Jonan soon discovered that his earnings fell short of meeting his needs.

Youth Unemployment Crisis in Uganda

In Uganda, where youth unemployment rates soar, finding alternative employment proved daunting. Among approximately 400,000 qualified youth competing for jobs annually, only about 9,000 positions are available.

Agriculture: A New Beginning

Faced with this grim financial reality, Jonan reassessed his options. He discussed with his wife, a primary school teacher, the prospect of getting into agriculture. Her support was pivotal.

“I told my wife we needed to set aside our degrees and focus on earning money,” Jonan recollects. Addressing his concerns, including the fear of appearing impoverished despite being educated, Jonan assured his wife they would have modest outfits but well-lined pockets. With that resolve, Jonan bid farewell to his corporate job and started a remarkable agricultural journey.

Armed with a meagre working capital of UGX 300,000 (approximately $77), Jonan commenced aggregating maize produce from local farmers in August 2019. Despite initial sluggish progress, he managed to grow his capital to UGX 2,300,000 (around $590).

Empowered Through the Markets for Youth Programme

In 2021, the Markets for Youth Programme connected Jonan with Kabarole Research Center (KRC), an organization focused on skill-building and mindset transformation. Through KRC, Jonan accessed Agri-farm, an agro-input supplier, and Centenary Bank, which provided financial training and a loan of UGX 2,000,000 (about $500). With a solid repayment record, Jonan expanded his loan portfolio to UGX 5,000,000 (approximately $1,287).

Jonan initially cultivated maize on one acre of land while continuing his aggregation business. Today, he leases 20 acres, producing 200 bags of maize and aggregating an additional 50 bags, totalling about UGX 150,000,000 (est. $38,619). Despite facing challenges such as unpredictable weather patterns and market fluctuations, Jonan anticipates a profit of at least UGX 60,000,000 (about $15,447) this season.

Jonan Alinda proudly shows his maize harvest in Hoima District- Uganda copy

Jonan Alinda proudly shows his maize harvest in Hoima District, Uganda.

Commercial agriculture has transformed Jonan’s life and that of his family. He can now afford quality education for his child, owns a motorcycle for transportation, is building a family home, and meets all basic needs comfortably. Notably, Jonan takes pride in his decision to transition from formal employment to entrepreneurship. Moreover, he has created employment opportunities for about 30 youths in his village.

Looking Ahead

Despite the obstacles, Jonan remains undeterred, with plans to reinvest profits, expand his operations, purchase land, and venture into value addition by processing maize into flour. His driving force is a relentless pursuit of success. To fellow youth entrepreneurs, Jonan underscores the importance of a meticulously crafted business plan as the key to success.