Sawa World and the Lavazza Foundation team up for Ujana Coffee Project in Uganda: maximizing local solutions through youth entrepreneurship

We spoke to Daphne Nederhorst, Founder of Sawa World, and Country Director Sheila Ampumuza about how their unique localisation model can transform lives, Sawa World and the Lavazza Foundation’s new Ujana Coffee Project.

Humanity Hub member organization Sawa World provides large-scale access to locally-created, easy-to-learn and eco-friendly ‘income skills’ (small-scale business ideas) that are aimed at helping youth living in poverty. Sawa World identifies these youth entrepreneurs and hires them to share their skills with other youth “Our approach ignites what we call ‘the spark effect’, where one vulnerable youth pick up an income skill through our programmes, uses these skills to start a small-scale business, and then inspires other youth in their area to do the same”, says Daphne. 

Sawa World’s projects have reached over 768,691 (84,000 directly and 682,319 indirectly) vulnerable youth since 2011: and aim to encourage people to utilise owned local income solutions to make a better living for themselves and their community. Through in-person and online training programmes, “how to” learning and poster videos; and via local youth ambassadors, their projects have seen over 18,863 local businesses created by the youth living in poverty. And, with the new ‘Ujana Coffee Project’, Sawa World is working with small-scale coffee farmers in Uganda to diversify their incomes with locally-created self-employment skills and motivate them to stay in farming. 

The Sawa World Team conducting a local income skills training

Country Director Sheila Ampumuza says: “The income skills have empowered small-scale coffee farmers with greater control over their lives and livelihoods. They have now become more confident and self-sufficient in the face of challenges due to the diversification of their income.”

The process begins by finding youth ‘Solutions Entrepreneurs’ in a target area, who are hired to share their successful income skills and ideas with other young people; and mentor them to start small-micro enterprises.“This”, Daphne says, “ignites what we call a “spark” effect where the youth who are trained then train on average 4 others in the income skills, free of charge.”

For the Ujana Coffee Project, Sawa World selected 18 new income skills to present to young entrepreneurs. They used a set of criteria to nominate the ideas; such as requiring start-up capital of under 50 USD, taking less than a month to set up, and being able to bring in 27-31 USD per month in income; and that the skills can be learned in 1-2 days.

Potential business ideas include everything from small coffee kiosks to hand-made sandals, notebooks, reusable sanitary pads, eco-burning stoves, and much more. The inspirational element to these projects is that each has already been turned into a successful small-scale business by a ‘Solutions Entrepreneur’, who can take new marginalised youth within the community through what it takes to build a business. 

Goretti, a young coffee farmer, displays some products

The unique approach used in the Ujana Coffee Project has led to a 79% increase in motivation among the youth coffee farmers in Central Uganda. “This is a great result and over the next two years we will further test and expand the approach in Uganda and other parts of the world with a focus on building new mechanisms to make the program 100% self-driven by the youth farmers”, says Sheila.

“Our partnership with the Lavazza Foundation is another way to show how vulnerable youth can lift themselves out of poverty with local income solutions”, says Daphne. Sawa World welcomes other partnerships, to find new ways to share skills and leverage new technologies that can further scale their programmes. 

Our thanks to Daphne Nederhorst, Sheila Ampumuza and the Sawa World team for their contributions to this piece. If you’d like to reach out to Daphne (, or to find out more about Sawa World’s innovative working method, check out their website.