Savings and Economic Empowerment Program Underway for Orphaned Youth in Uganda

article | October 17, 2011

    Payal Pathak

Fred Ssewamala, Associate Professor at Columbia University, YouthSave member, and Global Assets Project Senior Fellow, has received a $3.34M grant for a family-based economic empowerment program for AIDS-orphaned and vulnerable youth (11-14) called Bridges to the Future. Funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD), Bridges to the Future will work with 1,440 Ugandan youth to promote savings for secondary education, microenterprise development, and mentoring and educational support.

Fred has committed several years working with orphaned and vulnerable children and youth, especially in Uganda which has an estimated 1.2 million orphans, of whom 45% are because of AIDS. In his words “as these orphans enter early adolescence, they are deciding whether to advance from tuition free primary school to fee-based secondary school and are beginning to be exposed to sexual and other risk behaviors, making this period in their lives very precarious.” It seems fitting, then, that the target beneficiaries for Bridges to the Future are adolescents. In addition to the intervention, the researchers from Columbia University will be measuring its efficacy and cost-effectiveness.

Aside from his extensive work in Uganda, last year, Fred, along with New America Foundation’s Jamie Zimmerman, designed a youth savings policy pilot for the Bayelsa State Government in Nigeria, CDA STARS. Launched in November 2011, the pilot provides low-income, secondary school youth with seeded and matched savings accounts conditioned on their school attendance.

We would like to congratulate Fred on his exciting work and research contributions to the youth savings field! To read more about Bridges to the Future, click here.


  • Photo of Payal Pathak

    Payal Pathak