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Profitable jobs you can start with very small capital

This article, by unveiling untapped job opportunities in the creative industry, exposes the baselessness of the claim that the youth are too poor to create their own jobs.

CREATIVE INDUSTRY: An alternative employment opportunity for the youth


A paper presented to the YOUTH IN LEADERSHIP FORUM-organised symposium of Northern Uganda youth leaders held on 10, FEBRUARY 2012, in Arua Town.

At the age of six, Musa Kalule would disassemble and reassemble whatever devices he laid his hands on, from watches to radios to electric extension cables. As he gained exposure beyond the home environment, his passion for machines extended to computers, and, particularly, information technology.

As soon as he dropped out of Makerere University for failure to pay fees, Mr. Kalule started vending his skills and talent. He moved from company to company explaining the necessity of having a website and proposing to design one at a small fee. Four years after this humble beginning, he owns a small house in the Kosovo suburb of Kampala and he has ordered for a used Toyota Gaia from Japan.

Kalule’s story reflects the modest but growing contribution of creative industries to job creation in Uganda. But what is creative industry?

Definition of Creative Industry
According to the United Kingdom Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Creative Industry constitutes “those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent which have a potential for job and wealth creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property.”

The UK definition points out three key points:

1.    Individual creativity, skill and talent – creative industry is about what you can offer with your imaginativeness, your creative spirit, your mental endowment, your skill, your talent.

2.    Potential for job and wealth creation – can the product of your creativity generate income?

3.    Generation and exploitation of intellectual property – once you have secured legal protection (property rights) for the product of your creativity, it becomes your intellectual property over which you should enjoy exclusive rights.

I do not find the British definition of Creative Industries irrelevant to our Ugandan situation. In this East African country, creative industry may involve the following:

Examples of Creative Industry
•    Film and photography
•    Music and Drama
•    Arts and Crafts -- bark cloth items, mats, baskets, etc
•    Fashion and Design
•    The mass media – newspapers, radio, television
•    Alternative media – newsletters, blogs, citizen journalism, websites
•    Writing and publishing books, novels, essays, newsletters, blogs, etc.
•    Advertising 
•    Architecture  
•    Research and Development (R&D)
•    Information Technology services like web designing, software generation, e-commerce, video games, and etcetera.

Each of these enterprises is a form of creative industry. If creative industry is such wide and far-reaching, can it still be regarded as mere alternative industry? To delve into answering this question would be to overstep the scope of this paper. The paper does not intend to go beyond highlighting possible avenues of youth employment in the industry. To start with, who is a youth?

Who is a youth?
The National Youth Policy defines the youth as “all young persons; female and male aged 12 to 30 years”. This age group, though it generally shares certain characteristics like physical strength and liveliness, is by no means homogeneous. It comprises literates and illiterates, lettered and unlettered, skilled and skilled, professionals and amateurs. A tiny minority in this age bracket constitutes part of the upper middle class, commanding whatever society considers success – from good jobs to posh cars and from dream houses to gorgeous spouses.

The rest and indeed the overwhelming majority of the youth, including many university graduates, form the lowest stratum of the middle class whose little financial means practically puts them on a par with the peasants. They are underemployed if employed at all, they struggle to meet their basic necessities like food, shelter and sex, and they are vulnerable to all forms of exploitation. They are “the wretched of the earth.”

One of the explanations that many young men and women give for their wretchedness is lack of capital to create their own jobs and salvage themselves from the humiliating torment of poverty. This paper, by unveiling untapped job opportunities in the creative industry, exposes the baselessness of the claim that the youth are too poor to create their own jobs. We wish to draw attention to potentially profitable enterprises that do not necessarily require huge sums of capital to start. One such enterprise is writing – and self publishing. 

Writing and Self-Publishing
Book publishing has always been a privilege of the few, a privileged few who afford the prohibitive charges and the sickening bureaucracy of traditional publishing companies. Technology has redistributed this privilege. Skilled and talented writers, irrespective of their levels of income, now have in the internet an opportunity to make not just money, but big money. All that they need in terms of capital is a pen and a ream of paper.

After writing down whatever you feel is worth buying, put it in soft copy using the nearest computer. Then lay the content in a book form using In-Design or any other relevant software and convert it to PDF. Make sure the cover page is attractive, and make sure it indicates a reasonable price. 

And finally, upload the file to an online publishing company of your choice, which may be lulu.com, iuniverse.com, createspace.com, or any other. Once it displays the cover page of your book, the publishing company may receive orders and proceeds to print copies. The publisher prints on demand – it prints only those copies for which orders have been made. The (UK) Guardian Technology writer Victor Keegan, in his article How to publish your own book online – and make money, says, “It doesn't cost you anything until the first purchase and Lulu lets you keep 80% of the proceeds (after deduction of the printing cost of each book).”

And it’s not just books; you can publish whatever your imagination is able to produce, from poems to plays, from novels to blogs. Surely, the internet has brought with it immense benefits that not even those who have limited access to it can afford to miss. 

O youth leaders of northern Uganda! I know you have limited access to the internet. But I also know that you don’t need full-time access to the network to exploit some of its opportunities. Uploading a book online, using the slowest internet speed, won’t take you two hours.

And there’s a lot to write about that is interesting and selling, especially in our cultures about which little has been written so far. An author recently excited the outside world when he wrote about a sexual technique popular in western Uganda known as kachabali. The foreigners were amazed to learn that some Ugandan men had a unique way of stimulating female orgasm, prompting the woman to discharge large quantities of liquid in a short time. Indeed, there’s still a lot to write about and publish – and make money.

The film industry is one of the leading contributors to GDP in countries where it has thrived and flourished. In Uganda, unfortunately, the industry is yet to be given priority. It features some talented but largely unskilled practitioners. It remains small and underdeveloped as if Ugandans are not ardent and passionate in their love for movies.

The dominance in our market of unsophisticated Nigerian domestic drama films, some of which can be produced using ordinary equipment, speaks volumes about our failure to nurture and develop our own film industry. It suggests the lack of creativity and entrepreneurship among many of our young men and women.

Esteemed youth leaders, there is certainly huge demand for good movies. Go and act. Go and act Joseph Kony and the traditional way of conflict resolution that you call Mat Oput. I am quite sure the world would love to see how the Acholi invoke the doctrines of their culture to forgive a warlord who has butchered their own, chopped off their lips, and enslaved their girls. You do not need a movie production studio to produce a film as rudimentary as some of the Nollywood films you love so much – you need one good video camera which you can raise as an individual or as a small group. The rest – your creativity is the limit.

Besides a creative mind you need the skills. Kampala University has opened up a film department that should mark the start of the end of amateurishness in Ugawood.  

Web designing
The Makerere University School of Computing and Informatics Technology alone unleashes over 1000 graduates to the field yearly. If you are one of them, and you are still looking for a job, try website designing. Many organizations in this country, including reputable organizations, have no websites. I was contacted late last year by a Tanzanian national who wanted a good Muslim secondary school around Kampala for his son.

When I ‘Googled’ the leading schools around the city and indeed in the country – Kibuli Secondary School, Kawempe Muslim School, Bilal Islamic Institute – I leant that none of them had a website. This shocking fact is by no means an isolated case. It reflects the extent to which African organizations are stuck in the medieval way of doing things. Some web designers view this medieval tendency as a hindrance to their service; I view it as an opportunity.

An opportunity! How? The mere fact that most organizations don’t have websites suggests that there are many websites to design out there. All that a web designer needs is courage – the courage to inform the managers that their organizations would move a step further if they acquired websites. Go to the best schools in your districts and let them know that it’s not just fashionable to have a website in the 21st Century; it attracts more students from all over the country and indeed beyond boarders, and in turn, brings in more revenue.

Arts and Crafts
There is no question that the majority of you, like most Ugandans and Africans, were brought up in rural areas. Children in such areas tend to learn from their parents the skills of making traditional mats, beads, bracelets, necklaces, baskets, bark cloth items, and many others. Each of these products is a subject of admiration across all classes of people. Each of them is a hot commodity across tourist destinations and across sections of the middle class. Try to market your products beyond your home village.

Arts and Crafts and each of the enterprises highlighted in this paper reflect the depth and diversity of the sector known as Creative Industry. The sector is a sea of opportunities, very few of which have been exploited. It is early time the Youth galvanized the creativity and innovativeness with which they are associated to replace their disgrace of joblessness with the dignity of employment.  

YAHYA SSEREMBA is the founder and editor of Uganda’s unafraid news website, www.campusjournal.ug


0 #1 Nasser Kalema 2012-06-18 15:21
Kalule has not ordered for a toyota Gaia,
He actually owns it.