Forty young people in eight teams from Adjumani, Arua, Yumbe, Moyo, Kitgum, Agago, Amuru and Lamwo have been selected to benefit from a UGX144 million (roughly USD$38,608) startup fund from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to help them kick-start their social businesses addressing challenges faced by women, adolescents and youth in the areas of Sexual and Reproductive Health & Rights and Gender Based Violence.
The teams will also receive funding, business training, mentorship and go-to market technical guidance courtesy of the Up Accelerate WAY (Women, Adolescent and Youth) edition. Up Accelerate WAY edition is a health based social incubator developed by the UNFPA in partnership with Outbox, and Reach A Hand Uganda – supported by the Government of Denmark.
The Up Accelerate WAY edition supports young people to develop and implement breakthrough entrepreneurial solutions that address challenges in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and Gender Based Violence (GBV). This initiative is part of the larger Danish government funded 5 year project (WAY project) being implemented in 8 districts of North and West Nile.
According to Alain Sibenaler, the representative of UNFPA Uganda, said the edition is tailor made to target young people to develop local based solutions to address challenges of their local communities.
Outbox Team Lead, Richard Zulu says the initiative has demonstrated the need for more inclusive initiatives focused on supporting social entrepreneurs.
“The high level of interest and participation from Northern Uganda and West Nile is evidence to the talent that exists nationally, and the desire of young people to be part of the solutions,” says Richard.
The Up Accelerate program was launched in November 2016; 25 young people in seven teams have been supported with at least UGX259 million (roughly USD$69,440) to launch their social businesses which currently serve up-to 70,000 beneficiaries. These enterprises have gone on to raise UGX281 million (roughly USD$75,339) from other sources after the program.
This year, the initiative focused on West Nile and Northern Uganda, challenging young people between the age of 18 to 30 years to come up with innovative business solutions to three thematic areas;
- Access to timely, context appropriate, and accurate SRHR & GBV information and education for women, adolescents and young people affected by conflict and their host communities challenge area.
- Improving access to essential SRH services and supplies for women and young people affected by conflict and their host communities.
- An integrated approach to limit excessive alcohol and substance abuse.
250 applications were received after which 22 semi-finalists were shortlisted for three day co-creation workshops conducted in Arua and Kitgum for teams from West Nile and Northern Uganda Respectively.
The shortlisted teams presented their ideas in front of a panel of expert judges to elaborate and justify their businesses ideas, after which 8 teams were selected.
Below are the 8 teams that are benefit from the startup fund;
A team using affordable and locally made materials to develop infant warmers help mothers in refugee settlements that have given birth to premature or at-risk babies.
A service that will help young men and women living in rural and refugee settlements and host communities in West Nile access affordable family planning services by reducing distance, time, transport cost and stigma through a last mile distribution network of trained youth friendly village health teams.
A music dance and drama group which creates ‘’you-change skits’’ that will help young women, adolescent girls and young people affected by conflict in refugee and host communities access user friendly information on the causes, prevention and strategies to end gender based violence through audio/visual context appropriate customer inclusive, educative and entertaining short plays.
A card book that will promote inclusiveness by helping deaf women and youths acquire primary Health care knowledge on HIV/AIDs through graphics, illustrations and images that can be understood by the deaf.
Fema let’s talk
A solution that provides an interactive edutainment platform (Fe-Ma: let’s talk App) and school clubs that will provide a safe space for adolescent girls and boys aged between 12 to 17 to share, learn and get equipped with knowledge on Gender Based Violence to be agents of behavioral change and promoters of nonviolence.
An interactive voice response system platform that will help women of childbearing age easily access family planning services by describing to them the benefits and likely costs of the chosen contraceptives; using their preferred language also linking them to the nearest health facility.
A mobile Application Service that will help young people between the age of 13 to 17 years affected by conflict and those in refugee host communities access information and consultation services on sexual and reproductive health and rights in both Lugbara and English language using toll free sms and toll free phone calls to help reduce cases of unintended and early pregnancies.
Unity and Prosperity Medical Center
An antenatal care service provider that will help expectant mothers living in refugee communities access safe delivery services within their community to solve the problem of long distances to the nearest health facilities through establishment of mobile antenatal clinics.