Rwamwanja refugee settlement rarely experiences traffic jams, but today the main road is packed. Over 600 youth dressed in graduation gowns march towards a brighter future, bursting with pride. The Training Center has been running since 2015, but today’s graduation marks the first time that part of the graduates receive a diploma of global significance.

Rachel is one of 32 students receiving a Finnish diploma in micro-entrepreneurship. During the ceremony, she is mentioned as one of the most successful learners. “With this experience, I hope I can one day find somewhere to study”, says Rachel Ngenge Binwa, 18.“I developed interest in starting poultry farming, and at the end of the training my business was up and running”, Rachel says proudly.

Regina Meta, 18, fled to Uganda from Congo with her mother and sister in 2016. In Rwamwanja refugee settlement she participated in the Finnish micro-entrepreneurship program. With confidence gained from the program, the young woman has opened her own hair salon, which is now among the most popular in the refugee settlement. “Hairstyling has always been my passion. Thanks to the program, I have learned a lot, especially about how to interact with clients. These days, I get lots of new clients based on the recommendations by my old clients”, Regina says.

The diploma in question is an official Finnish vocational diploma, offering the possibility to apply to higher education. The training program is currently provided  by certified local trainers and assessed in Finland.

“What makes this program exceptional is the fact that refugees are able to obtain a diploma while they are displaced, which helps them find employment already during displacement. A secondary degree education that is offered in crisis areas decreases dependence on aid and provides support where it is most needed”, says Tomi Järvinen, Director of International Cooperation at FCA.

FCA and Omnia Education Partnerships Ltd. currently provide vocational diplomas in entrepreneurship as a pilot project in Uganda. The program welcomes refugees as well as Ugandans to participate in the training.