November 20th 2018 – Forty (40) young people in eight (8) teams from Adjumani, Arua, Yumbe, Moyo, Kitgum, Agago, Amuru and Lamwo have been selected to benefit from a UGX 144 million start-up 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.

Each of the eight teams will 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 United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in partnership with Outbox, a local business and innovation incubator, and Reach A Hand Uganda. The initiative is 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 Acholi sub-region and West Nile

According to Alain Sibenaler, the representative of UNFPA Uganda, “This edition of Up Accelerate is tailor made to target young people to develop local based solutions to address challenges of their local communities. It has provided a shift into how incubators are conducted from the classic way of sourcing, incubating and accelerating from the town centers to rural areas. It is an opportunity to harness the untapped potential of young people in more rural areas and refugee communities and support them live their dream.”

“This 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 Zulu, the Team Lead at Outbox:

The Up Accelerate program was launched in November 2016; 25 young people in seven (7) teams have been supported with at least UGX 259 Million to launch their social businesses which currently serve up-to 70,000 beneficiaries. These enterprises have gone on to raise UGX 281 Million 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;

  1. 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;
  2. Improving access to essential SRH services and supplies for women and young people affected by conflict and their host communities;
  3. An integrated approach to limit excessive alcohol and substance abuse.

Two hundred and fifty (250) applications were received after which twenty two (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.

The eight teams that were selected are;

Baby Kit​– 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.

IKitty Supplies​​-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.

Platform 503​– 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.

Poker Card​-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.

We help​– 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.

Mieringa​– 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

About UNFPA

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every child is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. Currently, UNFPA is implementing its 8th Government of Uganda – UNFPA Country Programme (2016-2020) in alignment with national priorities as outlined in the National Vision 2014, National Development Plan II (2015/16 – 2019/20), and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (2016-2020). UNFPA does this in partnership with the Government, development partners, private sector and other key-stakeholders. Visit https://uganda.unfpa.org/​for more information.

About Outbox

Launched in 2012, Outbox is an entrepreneurship support organisation that supports early stage entrepreneurs with business incubation, shared office space and technical training programs. Through our partners, we help them access markets and raise seed funding. Visit www.outbox.co.ug for more information.

About Reach A Hand Uganda

Reach a Hand Uganda is a youth centered organisation focusing on youth empowerment programs with emphasis on Livelihoods & Skills Development, Behavior Change Communication, Sexual Reproductive Health & Rights, and HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. Visit ​http://reachahand.org/ for more information.