Born in the rural area of Mbale, Uganda, Andrew moved to Kampala on a half bursary to study at an advanced level. It later became a hurdle to cater for his needs while at school after his parents became unemployed. In 2008, at the age of 16, Andrew saw a market opportunity in creating paper bags. As the Ugandan government leaned towards a ban on use of polythene plastic bags, Andrew decided to venture into an environmentally friendly project of paper bag production.
With no initial capital, Andrew cleaned the environment by collecting used plastic bottles and sold them to a plastic recycling plant. After he had raised his initial seed capital of 36,000 Ugandan shillings ($18), he soon started making paper bags at a small scale while still in high school.
In 2010, Andrew registered his new company, Youth Entrepreneurial Link Investments (YELI). YELI is now the first local registered paper bag and envelope producing company in Uganda. His business has grown to employ 14 people, the eldest of which is 53. YELI’s customer base includes local hospitals, retail shops, roadside sellers, super markets, and major local flour manufacturer companies like Maganjo grain millers and Akamai Foods. YELI was the recipient of a 2.6 million Ugandan shilling ($1,000) ILO business plan competition. From his earnings, Andrew is able to pay for his bachelor’s degree in commerce at Makerere University, pay salaries for his staff, and support his family in Mbale by opening up a distribution outlet of bags and envelopes for his mother to sell. In addition to managing his growing enterprise, Andrew has found time to train over 500 individuals, mostly young people, on how to make paper bags through which 16 other projects have been set up. His personal goal is to employ 60 people by 2015 and set up a paper bag making plant in order to achieve a vision of a cleaner Africa.
Andrew now employs a total of 22 people, and has diversified his line to include gift bags. He is the recipient of 2012 FERD Award for Social Entrepreneur of the Year.