At just 17 years of age, Gloria was devastated to lose her father in 2019. While she was distraught emotionally it also affected her studies. She was forced to drop out of school in Kitgum and shelve her dreams of further education.
“While at school, I learned some skills in baking. After I had to leave school, I started selling food from door to door to make ends-meet. But in the end, I did not make any profit,“ she says.
The fifth of seven children, Gloria was thinking about her next move in life when her friend called her with news of a new opportunity, GOAL’s Young Africa Works – Markets for Youth Programme.
Markets for Youth programme
With support from the Mastercard Foundation, The Markets for Youth Programme provides a number of integrated interventions including training initiatives and support in agricultural input/output systems. It also provides access to affordable financial services, as well as business skills training to young women, men, and youth-led enterprises.
“I quickly seized the opportunity. The idea of operating a tractor during the training made me determined to excel – my dream has always been to become a female driver. The chance came while I was going through a lot of hardship together with my family,” Gloria says.
As part of the Young Africa Works – Markets for Youth Programme, young women like Gloria are acquiring skills such as tractor operations and maintenance. With their newly acquired skills, participants’ chances of finding fulfilling and dignified employment in Uganda have greatly improved.
Excelling during training
In January 2022, Gloria attended training on tractor operation and mechanics at the Kitgum Technical Institute. This was organised by a local private sector company – Shalom Ventures Uganda Limited (SVUL), a partner in the Markets for Youth programme.
“I must admit that on my first day of training, I had a phobia for the “big machine” – tractor. However, I got motivated when I recalled a time when my late father promised to take me for defensive driving lessons to fulfil my dream of becoming a female driver,” Gloria recalls.
Gloria seized the opportunity with both hands and excelled during her training. Her performance prompted Shalom Ventures to request the support and guidance of a local trainer in Kitgum, Steven Omara, who followed her up with a one-week training during the apprenticeship.
Gloria was considered top of the class, excelling in tillage, and ploughing tasks that she had perfected in less than three days of training.
Securing her first job
Gloria showed so much promise and endeavour that SVUL decided to offer her a job as a Programme Support Officer in March 2022. Now, at the age of nineteen, Gloria is the youngest worker at SVUL.
“This programme has helped me to overcome adversity and it brought the best out in me. This was a perfect opportunity for me to kick-start a career that will secure for me and my siblings a comfortable life. In future, I want to concentrate on becoming an established entrepreneur who will inspire other young people to excel,” she says with a smile.