Benson Wereje

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2015


This profile was prepared when Benson Wereje was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2015.
The New Idea
CIYOTA’s approach of using entrepreneurial education as tool for transformation is a reflection of Benson’s own life journey as a refugee from the Congo growing up in Kyangwali refugee resettlement scheme in Western Uganda. The organization’s vision of a peaceful world devoid of mass transfer of large populations (refugees) is embedded in their philosophy of non-violence and self-empowerment: “No one can give us what they do not have. We do not change people but we change ourselves and the world changes with us.”

Also new in the CIYOTA model is the idea of “economic violence” as the act of forceful prevention from access to resources such as land and education. CIYOTA’s mission of empowerment through entrepreneurial education and leadership training is centred on this understanding that economic violence is the root cause for conflict and refugee problem in the central Africa region. Benson’s own experience of being displaced from his birth place in Eastern Congo and subsequent flight to western Uganda as a refugee has continued to inform his desire, approach and vision for solving the endemic problem of ethnic violence in the central Africa region. He is also a strong believer in the role that young people have to play in order to solve this problem which is deeply embedded in the attitudes of the older generation.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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