Robine Okello is a recent graduated with a Masters Degree in Agri-Enterprises Development at the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, Gulu University, Uganda. whose study was fully sponsored by the RUFORUM under the Nurturing Grant Project (NGP) with support from the Mastercard Foundation. He is a Ugandan and shares his Journey through the program.
At the end of my second year, I applied to the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps 2019 to volunteer for a period of one year because of the excellent development opportunities it provides to the young people to contribute to the continent’s development. Fortunately, have been selected from over 7000 applicants to join a team of Pan-African family of young African professionals serving as AU Youth Volunteers towards an ‘integrated, prosperous and peaceful African driven by its citizens’-the Africa we want!. The opportunity to contribute to improving the welfare of the marginalized groups in the African continent especially youth and women groups participating in business and entrepreneurship including smallholder farmers through developing their human capabilities motivated me to apply.
The Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, Gulu University has a unique community attachment model that allows both the graduate and undergraduate students to practically exercise their professional knowledge back to the community. In 2018, this model was applied for the first time in the refugee’s settings in Northern Uganda, where it proved useful. It was from this training that I had the opportunity to exercise my professional skills and knowledge in Agri-entrepreneurship to train 20 groups to develop workable business plans from concept development to actualization of their businesses. Under the project “promoting farm-based micro-enterprises in the refugees’ settlements”, the project was funded by the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations (FAO).
To me, participating in facilitating the establishment of micro-farm based enterprises at the refugees’ settlements in Adjumani and Arua in West Nile, Uganda was a unique experience and opportunity that Gulu University has granted to me. The ability and flexibility to work in a post-war setting in the refugees and host communities was a lifetime experience! Amongst the top competitive skills that made me through was the training and communication skills gained through holding leadership and volunteering positions. Through this, I have been able to design community-driven project interventions that enhanced business and youth entrepreneurship among the University students and community through the establishment of the enterprise called “JuFresh Enterprises” under Student’s Enterprise Scheme (SES) at Faculty of Agriculture & Environment. The enterprise promotes fruits growing and reducing post-harvest losses among fruits producers’ in the region by buying from them. This formed the basis upon which I was selected for the 10th cohort African Union Youth Volunteer corps 2019.
Additionally, involvement in different programs at the Faculty where I made a significant contribution to the University through volunteer graduate teaching assistantship in the Department of Rural Development and Agribusiness where I taught project planning and management, business planning and evaluation, and food supply chain management also gave credence to be selected.
Today, am grateful for the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps (AUYVC) program for deployment to work with an international humanitarian organization Danish Refugee Council (DRC) in Djibouti. Tasked with the roles and responsibilities of managing livelihoods and cash transfer projects, including farming activities (provision of seeds, tools, agricultural training and other initiatives to increase food production and decrease food insecurity amongst vulnerable households in the camps). Others managing unrestricted cash transfers for micro-businesses to strengthen people’s capacities and income-generating opportunities amongst refugees and host communities in the camps of Ali-Addeh and Holl-Holl in Southern Djibouti hosting primarily Somali and Ethiopian refugees, and Markazi camp hosting Yemeni refugees in the north.
I am grateful to Gulu University, RUFORUM and the Nurturing grant project for giving me the chance to pursue my Master’s Degree at Gulu University.
About Robine Okello
He is a beneficiary of the MCF@RUFORUM Scholarship and was among the first cohort who graduated with a Master’s degree in Agri-enterprises Development at the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, Gulu University.
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