Young Entrepreneurs Awards: Charles Batte

Charles Batte founded Tree Adoption Uganda to help young entrepreneurs set up businesses. Trees planted by the entrepreneurs are sold on to companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint and the money raised is used to fund mentoring and training.

Tackling unemployment & deforestation

Charles Batte

At 62%, youth unemployment in Uganda is the highest in Africa. Over the last 15 years Uganda’s forest cover has declined by 26%; left unchecked, this would rise to 100% in 40 years.

Founded by Charles Batte, Tree Adoption Uganda (TAU) takes a novel approach to jointly tackle these challenges. The NGO offers a three-year programme of business training and mentoring to impoverished young people, helping them to create, develop and grow new businesses.

Participants build up start-up capital via TAU’s Tree Capital programme. They set up tree nurseries and the trees are sold to large companies, who buy them as part of their corporate social responsibility commitments. The trees are planted as part of reforestation campaigns in Uganda’s National Forest Reserves so as to abate the effects of climate change and combat rampant deforestation.

Encouraging young people

Charles was born in Kamwokya, a slum of Kampala riddled with poverty and poor health services. At 20 he used savings from his part-time job to start a small-scale farm. Seven years, later it employs 50 people and he has used the profits from the farm to start a health centre and TAU, which launched in 2012.

The services that TAU provides arise from the conviction that youth unemployment is rampant because young people lack the capital and skills to become entrepreneurs.

TAU aims to empower 150 women and 50 men to start their own small-scale businesses, enabling them to financially sustain their families and alleviating poverty. Some 200,000 trees will be planted to promote environmental sustainability and abate climate change. TAU has delivered entrepreneurship training to 600 high school students and given 150 more students hands-on experience of setting up fruit tree nurseries.