Replication Project

The FICH’s Lorena Cooking Stoves project is one of the most proven 14 innovative projects in East Africa region according to International Labour Organisation (ILO) for Replication by other youth led organization in East Africa region. The Youth Entrepreneurship Facility’s Youth-to-Youth Replication Fund (Y2Y2) is a competitive grant scheme open to youth-led organizations in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya to replicate the most innovative entrepreneurship development project ideas from the first two rounds of the Youth to Youth (Y2Y) Fund which has been implemented since 2010 in East Africa as part of the Youth Entrepreneurship Facility.

In this project, Young women in Oyam district, Northern Uganda producing traditional cooking stoves are organised into working groups and trained in making the highly demanded more modern cooking stoves called Lorena. These stoves are made from materials that are locally available and affordable such as clay soil and rice husks, and consume little energy compared to the traditional stoves. The technical training involves demonstrations on making the product to facilitate learning of the practical aspects of manufacturing the stoves. Beneficiaries are further equipped with entrepreneurial skills and helped to access finance through the formation of groups called Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA). In addition, the beneficiaries are organised into marketing groups and are linked to potential markets for their products

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PROJECT: Entrepreneurship Creation for Young Women through Lorena Cooking Stoves

ORIGINAL IMPLEMENTING ORGANIZATION: Fight to Improve Community Health (FICH)

FICH is a registered not-for-profit non-governmental youth organization formed in 2007. FICH is committed to promoting full participation of youth in the fight against economic and health related threats by carrying out mobilization, sensitization, research, disability prevention, training activities, and promoting and creating income generating opportunities for young people in the community. The mission of FICH is to facilitate access for young entrepreneurs and innovators to supportive services in order to turn their ideas into reality through business creation, skill development, knowledge management and technical assistance in health and development.

LOCATION OF THE PROJECT: Oyam District, Northern Uganda.

TARGET GROUP: Young women aged 18- 35 years in Loro and Iceme sub counties engaged in manufacturing traditional cooking stoves.

KEY ENTREPRENEURSHIP CHALLENGES:

The young women manufacturing traditional cooking stoves get persistently low income from the sales of traditional cooking stoves due to limited markets for the stoves. They operate as individual micro businesses, which limits their capacity to increase the volumes produced and thus to attract buyers who require larger quantities of products. The more modern Lorena cooking stoves are highly demanded in the region, but the limited technical skills of the women do not allow them to manufacture the Lorena stoves. They also lack the entrepreneurial mindset that is necessary for them to look beyond what they are currently doing and identify other viable business opportunities in their surroundings.  As is the case with most youth, the target group has limited access to business capital due to interest rates being very high in existing financial institutions. Many of the youth consider the risk of taking credit too high.

                            PROJECT DESCRIPTION:

To address the above mentioned challenges, the project offers the following key services to their youth beneficiaries

  • Provision of Technical Training in Lorena Cooking Stoves: Lorena cooking stoves are made from materials that are locally available and affordable such as clay soil and rice husks. These raw materials produce bricks which are used to assemble the stove. The Lorena stove consumes little energy while cooking compared to the traditional cooking stoves. It also produces much less smoke during the cooking. The technical training involves demonstrations of making the product to facilitate the learning of the practical aspects of manufacturing the stoves. The technology is easy to learn, manual, and therefore easy for the young women to adopt

  • Entrepreneurship Training: Beneficiaries are equipped with entrepreneurial skills through the ILO’s Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) training program. The training helps them to identify other viable businesses within the local environment, utilize their existing skills, and gain skills to exploit business opportunities.

  • Facilitation of Savings and Loan Associations: The project helps young women to access finance through the formation of groups called Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA). This is a financial literacy program which introduces local communities to savings and credit culture.  Beneficiaries form self-selected groups of 15 – 30 people, usually unregistered, meet regularly (weekly or twice a month) to mobilize their own funds, and save and borrow at low interest rates to invest in their businesses.

  • Group Formation: Beneficiaries are mobilized to form groups which help them to work together and improve their bargaining power. The group (or its members) also acts as guarantor to enable the members to access loans from financial institutions that are willing to forgo the requirement of collateral.

  • Group Marketing & Linkages: The beneficiaries are organised into marketing groups and FICH links them to potential markets for their products. The market for the products is readily available at the household level in Uganda and as far as Southern Sudan

KEY LESSONS LEARNT TO BE CONSIDERED BY THE NEW IMPLEMENTER:

General lessons learnt from the implementation of the various Y2Y Fund projects indicate the importance of the projects to select their beneficiaries carefully to focus their efforts on those youth with the right motivation to work hard to start and make a business a success and who are interested in the specific field of business included in the project. The implementing organization also needs to put sufficient emphasis on the access to finance component to ensure that the targeted youth have the opportunities to access youth friendly financing and information about those opportunities, as well as the skills and right attitude to seek capital to finance their start-ups. Involvement of knowledgeable partners is also crucial for the success of the projects to compliment the skills and capacity of the implementing organization, as well as coordination between these partners. The implementing organizations need to ensure in their project design that after the beneficiaries start their businesses, they will get access to proper business development services and other required technical assistance. The projects need to be regularly monitored and followed-up to be able to identify in time any problems that arise and provide targeted technical assistance. 

In addition, some of the specific lessons learnt – in project and business implementation level - from this particular project that the new project implementer should consider, include:

  • Social Norms and Cultural Barriers: There are barriers in the local cultures and social settings in some rural communities in Uganda that do not permit young women to freely participate in the business world or in projects. Married young women are prevented by their relatives from interacting with men, which makes it impossible for them to run businesses successfully. It is therefore important to address and mitigate the cultural and social barriers at the beginning of the project implementation. The community as a whole and in particular the husbands need to be included in the sensitization and orientation activities to get their buy-in.

  • Sensitization: The Lorena stoves contribute to the reduction of smoke during cooking, savings due to the lower quantities of wood, charcoal or briquettes needed to heat the stove, reduced time spent in cooking, as well as cleanness of the households as the stoves contain the ashes produced. They also help to conserve the environment. These benefits need to be conveyed to the potential buyers to encourage the use of the new type of stoves and justify the investment. Demonstrations are a convenient way to help the communities understand the benefits of the stoves and increase the demand.

  • Community Ownership: Involvement of local leaders, interest groups, religious leaders and civil society organizations in project implementation is fundamental to project success as it reinforces community ownership of the project.

  • Access to Finance: Source of business capital is an obstacle to starting a business for some of the potential young entrepreneurs. This should be taken into consideration during the planning stage. The implementing organization should envisage the different options on how the beneficiaries will get funds to start businesses in line with the skills acquired. Organizing  the beneficiaries in groups provides a better ground for achieving project success as it allows for pooling of resources in terms of capital which would be rather difficult for an individual youth

WHAT NEEDS TO BE IN PLACE IN ORDER TO IMPLEMENT THIS PROJECT:

In addition to the generic requirements that apply across all the projects, including identified markets for the products/services, the implementation capacity of the organization, strong beneficiary ownership and commitment, below are some specific requirements that need to be in place for an organization to consider implementing this particular project:

  • Availability of Raw Materials: The raw materials in terms of clay soil and rice husks should be readily available.

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