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Jamila Mayanja, Founder, Smart Girls Foundation

The Smart Girls Foundation enables girls to live to their full potential. We encourage girls to venture into the male-dominated world such as in the field of mechanics. We also produce SmartBags4Girls, containing reusable sanitary pads which we supply to disadvantaged girls. I came into contact with UNFPA when I heard about the innovations space at the I-café, for young entrepreneurs to share ideas and inspire each other. I then participated in more UNFPA-organized activities.  My first session of Learn from UNFPA on Leadership was facilitated by the Representative Mr. Alain Sibenaler. As a start-up we needed mentorship, to learn more about finance and accountability so attending these sessions at no cost was an opportunity we grabbed with both hands. The Learn from UNFPA sessions have helped to transform our organization. Personally I have learnt the importance of creating internal systems.  I always thought as a small organization we didn’t need systems but after the training I realized the importance. We are now working on developing our own code of conduct and other internal policies.  

 The sessions on Financial Literacy taught us the importance of accountability including accountability for our time. For example, as a startup we needed to ask ourselves when we attend an event how much time we have invested in that event and how much have we gained from it.  Learn from UNFPA also encouraged me to refine and implement my idea of producing SmartBags4Girls at a time when I had wanted to give up. I was able to get a 50,000 dollar grant from UNFPA as a result. 

The girls at Smart Girls Foundation like to listen to the stories of the panelists at the Generation for Generation dialogues and Live Your Dream Moment.  They make them appreciate that everyone struggles at some point but can still work hard and achieve their dreams.

This story is part of the Live your dream initiative, see information on the campaign here.