There are only handfuls of people who create opportunities not just for themselves but also for others out of difficult circumstances. 27 year old Dr. Charles Batte from Uganda is one such person. This medical doctor has created employment opportunities for the youth of Uganda where the unemployment rate is as high as 62 percent. He was determined to take social responsibility for the youth especially from the region where he belonged. He didn’t want the youth to succumb to drugs because of their disappointment with the system. He has incubated numerous business ideas, run successful ventures and planted thousand of trees to fight deforestation. This young social entrepreneur who has won numerous recognition and global awards talked to Guts For Change :
- Can you explain in details how your organisation-‘Tree Adoption Uganda’ addresses the issues of climate change and youth unemployment?
Answer : Tree Adoption Uganda is a social enterprise which aims to address the problems of youth unemployment and deforestation. We try to take care of needs of two groups of people with one agenda. On one hand we approach the corporate companies to spend their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) money on planting trees so that they can reduce their carbon footprint. For eg. When we approach an organization, we calculate for them the carbon their operations contribute to the environment and then we come up with the number of trees they have to plant to reduce the carbon generated by their operations.
On the other hand we approach the youth who have business ideas but lack the skills and start-up capital. Tree Adoption Uganda provides basic entrepreneurship skills training and mentors them for three years. Tree Adoption Uganda also gives trees to these youth to plant in the nurseries and to take care of them.
When the corporate gives money to Tree Adoption Uganda let’s say to plant 10,000 trees then Tree Adoption Uganda buys back these trees from the youth and helps them generate some income which they use in realizing their business idea. This way Tree Adoption Uganda provides a sustainable platform.
- What inspired you to start ‘Tree Adoption Uganda’?
Answer: I wanted to start a self sustaining community where the basic needs of my community of improved health care, education and youth empowerment is taken care of. After I worked on developing a farm and health care center, the funds generated through those projects were used to set up Tree Adoption Uganda. I also was motivated by the strong desire to not let the youth of my community suffer because of lack of opportunities. I believe this enterprise will help lot of youth not just from Uganda but from Africa to get out of poverty and generate better opportunities for them.
- What are the challenges you face in your line of work?
Answer: We are plagued by many issues but we like to work on it. Like when I was working on the farm project there was no yield as the seeds I had sowed didn’t reap. I wondered if this is not working, then why should I continue. But then I realized that we can’t give up if things are not working out.We need to hang in there and try again. That Farm business helped me generate some of the income which helped me set up Tree Adoption Uganda.
- What would you like to advice to those who aspire to be social entrepreneur?
Answer: Self Motivation is the key. You would face lot of stumbling blocks in your journey of being a social entrepreneur but you can only go past them if you constantly remind yourself that quitting is not an option.
During my early days as an entrepreneur (in year 2009),I had invested my hard earned money in growing maize on 3 acres of land, However all the maize crop had dried up. In that situation, my conviction and hope that better times would come if I keep on persisting kept me motivated. I would also advice on the need to have patience and to develop the ability to look beyond your fear. Lot of young people yearn for quick results which is difficult to attain. Young entrepreneurs should learn to start with what they have and then consistently work to make their imagination and conviction to come true.