On International Youth Day, stories from young cooperators and how you can support the next generation of co-op leaders

Evelyn Ayebare, right, tells her story on a local radio station in Uganda.Evelyn Ayebare, right, tells her story on a local radio station in Uganda.Evelyn Ayebare, right, tells her story on a local radio station in Uganda.This Saturday, August 12, people worldwide will celebrate International Youth Day. Observed annually on August 12 since 2000, this United Nations emphasis day recognizes young people as agents of change. This year's theme, "Youth Building Peace," highlights young people's contributions to conflict prevention and transformation, as well as inclusion, social justice and sustainable peace.

Building a more peaceful and inclusive society is one of the goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It's also work NCBA CLUSA contributes to around the world by addressing food security and nutrition, sustainable agricultural development, strengthening communities and farmer organizations, natural resource management, local governance, and empowerment of youth, women and smallholder famers. Here are just a few stories from our programs: 

In Uganda, from youth leader to community leader 

When 23-year-old Evelyn Ayebare from Masindi, Uganda joined the Rwigere youth group in 2015, she was curious what kind of support she would find.

Inspired by the group vision of “building self-sustaining youth,” Evelyn campaigned for and was elected to the position of group chairperson.

In 2016, The Youth Empowerment Through Agriculture Project, implemented by NCBA CLUSA in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, gave the group an incubation kit of 50 chickens to raise as a group. Using this business as a base, they were looking to expand.

With entrepreneurship training, Rwigere members were able to think big and access a 9,000,000 Ugandan shilling ($2,500 USD) loan from the local government. With the money, they bought two motorcycles that they hire out as boda boda (motorcycle taxis) at a fee of 140,000 shillings ($40) per week. The money is then reinvested into the group.

Soon, the group plans to diversify into farming vegetables and supplying local restaurants in Masindi, ensuring each youth group member earns an additional 20,000 shillings (about $6) per day.

While other group members concentrated on their business, Evelyn also reflected on the group governance training she received through the YETA project. Leading the Rwigere group, along with what she learned about day-to-day organizing needs, inspired her to run for another leadership position in her community.

In 2016, immediately after the training in governance, Evelyn successfully ran for the female youth councilor position in the Masindi Municipal Council where she is now an influential young person advocating for inclusion of youth-friendly services and youth programming in many government and civil society interventions.

Angelita Pax Cardona is a volunteer firefighter, midwife and coffee cultivator in Guatemala. [photo courtesy America Magazine]Angelita Pax Cardona is a volunteer firefighter, midwife and coffee cultivator in Guatemala. [photo courtesy America Magazine]Angelita Pax Cardona is a volunteer firefighter, midwife and coffee cultivator in Guatemala. [photo courtesy America Magazine]Leading her community: Why one young woman decided to stay in Guatemala

At only 18 years old, Angelita Paz Cardona is already a leader in her community. A volunteer firefighter, midwife and highly-skilled in coffee cultivation, she commands more respect than her age would suggest.

These days, Angelita works with her community to train them on nutrition, animal care and financial management. Through the training and support of NCBA CLUSA’s USAID-funded Cooperative Development Project in Guatemala, Angelita works as a promoter in her community.

Nuevo Progresso, the aptly-named the “New Progress” municipality in San Marcos, Guatemala, has seen heavy rates of migration—including three of Angelita’s own brothers—but Angelita has stayed, working with her community and a local coffee co-op.

“Our job is to serve the community... I want to prove that Guatemala can move forward and that our country can distinguish itself not just because of immigration, but right here, with our own products,” Angelita said.

Nuevo Progresso community leaders nominated Angelita for the promoter-trainer position when NCBA CLUSA connected with them through local partner the Association of Coffee Cooperatives (ANACAFE). As part of her work with the community, she is in charge of a demonstration unit that helps community members see for themselves the techniques and nutrition benefits of poultry and small animal care.

Angelita also works with her local coffee co-op Nuevo Eden, where she recently spoke with America Magazine about another project she is involved in with Catholic Relief Services.

Training up the next generation of co-op leaders in the U.S.

NCBA CLUSA is pleased to introduce the Cooperative Leaders and Scholars Institute! This first-of-its-kind program offers established co-ops the opportunity to advance the newest generation of cooperative leaders. The Institute is your co-op’s chance to develop and engage young employees, board members and post-secondary students—ages 18 to 35—with participation in a national cooperative conference and exposure to co-op economists and thought leaders.

NCBA CLUSA is proud to support training and education for the next generation of co-op leaders. As the co-op movement works toward building an inclusive economy, it is these leaders and scholars who will sustain the critical work of advancing, protecting and promoting cooperatives.

As you celebrate International Youth Day this Saturday, consider becoming a sponsor of the Cooperative Leaders and Scholars Institute.

 

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