In 2014, with funding from the Bernard van Leer Foundation, ReadyNation started working with Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) to create a new network of business advocates to improve Uganda’s workforce through investments in early childhood, Early Steps Uganda.
This network, which now includes 45 business and civic organizations, has contributed to specific changes in policies and company practices. Concrete victories of Early Steps Uganda include the following:
- Uganda increased the percentage of its national budget allocated to the Ministry of Education from 11.1% to 12%.The Minister of Education has called for a pre-primary classroom in every primary school.
- The Government has now recognized PSFU as partners in ensuring that deliberate efforts are undertaken in early childhood development in order to solve the issue of labour productivity and improve national competitiveness.
- PSFU staff were appointed to the National ECD Committee for the National Development Plan 11 for Uganda, which included a specific early childhood policy for the first time.
- A variety of companies, such as Finance Trust Bank, Vision Group media company and Diamond Trust Bank, are expanding their family-friendly practices.
- In partnership with UNICEF Uganda, PSFU convened the first ever Public-Private Partnership Dialogue to increase investments in young children, in addition to launching the Children’s Rights and Business Principles (CRBP) under the #InvestinUGchildren campaign.
- During her remarks at the country’s first Business Summit on the topic (organized with ReadyNation), the Honorable Maria Kiwanuka (Ugandan Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development) publicly affirmed her support for and dedication to improving early childhood supports for Ugandan youth: “Investing directly and families and in children’s wellbeing is both a social and moral imperative and as well as an economically sound investment strategy for the future.” PFSU’s work has been featured in print, broadcast and online media through leading Ugandan outlets such as New Vision and Daily Monitor.
ReadyNation provided technical assistance on business engagement and messaging, organized a site visit to see U.S. business leaders in action, supported the country’s first business leader summit on early childhood, wrote the membership manual, and helped draw media attention to the business voice.