One of BOSCO-Uganda’s points of emphasis going forward is to help community members at each site to develop entrepreneurial activities. This is especially important as people have moved out of the displacement camps across much of the north and small-scale farming is taking place on ancestral lands. With high unemployment rates across the region and little economic activity being generated, there is ample opportunity for BOSCO-Uganda to begin using ICT and the Internet to support small and medium sized ventures.
In 2010 BOSCO won the Breaking Borders Award in technology, sponsored by Google, Reuters, and Global Voices. The award included a $10,000 prize which BOSCO has used to help develop and support small business ventures arising at various BOSCO community ICT sites.
In early 2011, BOSCO staff asked community sites to come up with income-generating projects based on community needs. A previous project, at our Pagak ICT site, was using the extra electricity generated through a surplus of solar energy to provide printing and document services for those who could not afford the expense or time to travel 20 plus kilometers to Gulu Town for the same services.
Another site has developed a piggery project. This project is aimed at providing income-generating activities for the most vulnerable in the village — orphaned youth. These youth are also being trained by community ICT trainers to learn ways in which the Internet, social networking, and other ICT skills may contribute to and support their growing business activities.
As the Internet reaches where it previously could not in northern Uganda, those connected by BOSCO are being trained with 21st century skills, vital for participation and engagement in today’s global economy. When economic opportunity arises — even through a piggery project — BOSCO users will be ready to broadcast their work to the world, to share ideas, and to contribute their knowledge and experiences to those who come after them.