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434. Extending horizons and opportunities through worker cooperatives in Uganda

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Coop Name: Bwongyera Fish Farmers and Pond Constructor’s Coop
City: Bwongyera N° of Members: 40
Country: Uganda Year of formation: 2009
About this coop:

Bwongyera Fish Farmers and Pond Constructor’s Coop is a youth cooperative in western Uganda. Because of rampant unemployment the youth took construction of fish ponds as a way of earning a living. Later they discovered that they could also use the excavated soils to make bricks for sale and to construct their own houses. The co-operative operates in Kibatsi, Ihunga, Nyabihoko and Bwongyera sub counties, in Kajara County in Ntungamo District in Uganda.

fishpond1 finishedpond harvestingfish completedponds

As many youths in Uganda face the unemployment crisis, the youths in Bwongera, in the South West of the country, have a different story to tell. They have managed to create jobs for themselves. They have formed a worker cooperative to construct fish ponds for farmers.

The group consists of 40 members that started in August 2009, when two of them were part of a cooperative group that was sponsored to attend a course in fish farming, in view of a growing importance for fish for domestic consumption and export. The two youths who attended the course decided to train other youths who had been engaged in the construction of ponds without any formal skills. The youths continued to operate as individuals and were hired by the farmers on a casual-labour basis.

They have also identified other related activities that have increased their income: one is brick-making. It came to the attention of the group that the clay soil, which was being removed during the pond construction was very good for making bricks. Brick-making has become an even bigger income source than the original project of digging ponds. In addition, the fact that they are a cooperative has made it easier for the local authorities to reach them with government programmes such as youth entrepreneurship funds.

So, the whole range of opportunities has opened up for the youth groups because of them working together. This is creating tremendous opportunities for self-employment and the generation of income.

Story originally published by CICOPA in Work Together, Issue 6 – November 2012.

Author of this story
Daniel Bernal, CICOPA
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