African Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative (AYEDI)
Uganda has strong national efforts to prevent children and adolescents from engaging in child labor, but poverty, high HIV prevalence, and unlawful labor practices by small-scale employers cause the practice to persist. In addition, caregivers and communities often lack awareness about child labor’s harmful effects. Adolescent youth are particularly at risk, especially out-of-school youth whose contributions to household income become more critical as they mature.
Through the African Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative (AYEDI), Bantwana and its local partners  will help vulnerable adolescents gain skills to find decent work  in Uganda’s modern economy.
AYEDI’s Youth Empowerment Clubs expose adolescents to integrated life skills, entrepreneurship, and occupational health and safety information. They learn their rights and responsibilities, as well as child labor laws. Youth also receive career guidance and take study tours to local entrepreneurs and agribusinesses. With the help of Club facilitators, youth will develop career action plans that are realistic and tied to existing markets.
The Empowerment Clubs help youth make more informed decisions about work and life. They learn about sexual and reproductive health, HIV prevention, healthy relationships, the hazards of child labor, and how to protect themselves from abuse. Clubs support youth to lead campaigns, dialogues, and discussions in their communities to raise awareness about child labor and more directly engage people to address these issues.
Youth also establish savings groups to build their financial literacy skills and practice saving. Through AYEDI’s partnership with Centenary Bank, youth learn about financial service products that they can use to build and grow their own businesses or pursue other work opportunities. Savings groups foster strong peer support to help AYEDI youth stay focused on career goals and address challenges that may arise during their training.
Following Club activities, youth choose from a range of educational and vocational pathways that prepare them to find work across Uganda’s agribusiness value chain, enter a vocational trades program, or return to formal secondary school. Learn more about the Integrated Functional Literacy for Youth (IFLY) program here.
AYEDI complements its youth efforts by supporting caregivers to establish savings and loan groups to mitigate the economic drivers of child labor. The program also works closely with local government and other community stakeholders to establish and strengthen Community Child Labor Committees (CCLCs) mandated by the Ugandan government to address child labor at the community level.
 Uganda Women’s Effort to Save Orphans (UWESO), Straight Talk Foundation (STF) and private sector agribusiness partner Reco Industries
 “Decent work is productive work for women and men in conditions of freedom, equality, security and human dignity.” – International Labour Organization (ILO), 2013.