Viola is a 21-year-old entrepreneur from Jinja district, Uganda. She is currently studying industrial and organizational psychology at Makerere University. She is passionate about improving the socio-economic and living standards of refugees through providing them with a source of income and nutritional diet.
Transition into Entrepreneurship
Viola has been passionate about agriculture and wanted to do an agriculture-focused project with Ugandans, however, she identified the need for refugees to have better socio-economic status through talking to her friends, who are also refugees. She started by visiting the camp and found out that most of the refugees, especially youth, work in agriculture. However, they have to drop out of school to help their family through farming. They needed to get modern agricultural techniques and more profitable crops like passion fruit so she founded A Hand For a Refugee.
Viola founded A Hand for a Refugee (H4R) in 2020 to train and empower refugees specifically in Kyangwali refugee camp by providing them with modern agricultural skills to improve their socio-economic status. This includes planting crops like tomatoes, onions and passion fruit with competing prices on the market. These crops are grown on small pieces of land available for refugees in camps and settlements. Those crops are also resilient enough to cope with climatic conditions if well gardened. H4R focuses mainly on passion fruit as a starting crop, and then the farmers choose to diversify later on. According to Viola and her team’s research, these crops can increase refugee income by 60% if well planned with modern and efficient techniques.
Since these agricultural practices are easy to implement and are not labor-intensive, they expect many parents to freely let their children go to school. 72% of school dropouts in Kyangwali leave school because they can’t afford school fees, and need to help parents get food and welfare. H4R has goals of seeing all refugees having a sustainable source of income for self-support like education, basic necessities, and a nutritional diet.
In five years, she aims at recruiting 350 volunteers to extend the program to the entire refugee community in Kyangwali camp, hopefully expanding to four other refugee camps in Uganda by holding a two-week training for interested individuals in each camp. She wants to reach 150 refugee homes every year.