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UNFPA and Outbox to avail 180M in funding for youth-led startups to develop innovative reproductive health solutions

Kampala, 02 October 2020 - UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency and local entrepreneurship support organisation Outbox have launched a call for innovative ideas to address sexual and reproductive health challenges.

The call is open to young innovators and entrepreneurs in ten districts in Northern Uganda and West Nile, to propose innovative ideas on how to address sexual and reproductive health challenges in their local communities.   The districts include Adjumani, Agago, Amuru, Arua, Kitgum, Lamwo, Moyo, Yumbe, Madi-Okollo and Obongi.

The initiative is run under the Up Accelerate programme, a social innovation incubator that seeks to empower young micro-entrepreneurs to turn their business ideas into healthcare start-ups that address persistent sexual and reproductive health challenges. Up Accelerate is an initiative of Outbox in partnership with UNFPA, and supported by the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology and National Guidance.

With funding from the Government of Denmark, ten youth-led startup teams working on issues of sexual and reproductive health will each receive seed funding of up-to UGX 18 Million. Selected teams will qualify to receive business training and design support, mentorship from local experts and linkages for partnerships to enable them develop their proof of concepts in preparation for scale-up of their social businesses.

This edition of the Up Accelerate social innovation incubator is part of the five year (2018 - 2022) Women, Adolescents and Young people (WAY) programme, that is supported by the Government of Denmark. This is the third call for applications since Up Accelerate started in 2016. Since its inception, Up Accelerate has supported 14 social enterprises, which have gone on to raise a further UGX 1,500,000,000 in financing and serve up-to 500,000 beneficiaries.

With the COVID-19 pandemic compounding the economic, social and logistical barriers that women and young people face in accessing sexual and reproductive health services, this year’s edition will focus on solutions that address the impacts of the pandemic on livelihoods, health services, education systems, and supply chains.

Up Accelerate is therefore seeking solutions to address challenges geared towards improving access to sexual and reproductive health information and services for young people (including refugees) and promoting access to positive coping mechanisms for young people impacted by COVID-19.

 

“The lockdown against COVID-19 led to a significant rise in teenage pregnancies and gender based violence. The pandemic has challenged our earlier assumptions on how to address issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights. Now more than ever, we need to invest in identifying innovative approaches to these challenges. The Up Accelerate initiative presents such an opportunity to the young people to experiment and pilot such approaches while building their capacity to solve local challenges,” says Mr. Richard Zulu, Lead at Outbox. 

 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has strained the public health system, triggering unprecedented measures by governments around the world, including movement restrictions. Amidst these challenges, we at UNFPA remain committed to our mandate, ensuring to deliver reproductive health and rights. This requires us to adapt and innovate appropriate solutions to the long standing challenges to accessing essential services during and after the pandemic,” says Mr. Alain Sibenaler, UNFPA Representative.

This edition of Up Accelerate is building on previous editions during which teams developed promising business solutions to address the pressing issues of inadequate access to family planning information and services by young people, challenges in access to information by persons with disabilities and challenges in accessing maternal health care.

Applications can be submitted online at https://upaccelerate.co.ug or through the District Community Development Office (CDO). The deadline for applications is 15th November 2020 at 11.59pm. 

 

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About UNFPA

UNFPA is the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency. Our mission is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. We work in developing countries and humanitarian emergencies to make sure women can access family planning, to end preventable maternal deaths and stamp out gender-based violence and harmful practices like female genital mutilation and child marriage.

About Outbox Hub

Launched in 2012, Outbox is a hybrid incubator, innovation lab and co-working space that specializes in supporting African entrepreneurs interested in using technology to build high-growth businesses with mentorship, training and co-working space. Outbox is built on the principles of sustainability, solving real problems, collaboration, openness and transparency, commitment and personal excellence. Outbox startups have raised more than $1M in funding support while creating more than eighty jobs.

For further information, please contact:

● Prossy Jonker Nakanjako: Communications Specialist, E-mail: nakanjako@unfpa.org 

 

Justine Nansubuga: Member Success Associate Outbox Hub justine.nansubuga@outbox.co.ug

 

 

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Solutions developed under the third edition of Up Accelerate include: 

 

Baby Kit sifo (Yumbe district)-  Helps mothers living in refugee settlements to keep their new born babies warm by providing low-cost and locally made cotton baby warmers at health care service delivery points in their locality thus reducing the risk of pneumonia. 

IKitty Supplies (Arua district)- A service that helps young men and women living in hard to reach rural communities (including refugee settlements) to access affordable contraceptives and menstrual hygiene supplies through a network of boda bodas and community health workers;

Platform 503 (Arua district)- A community of creatives that leverages informative and fun-packed short videos, and live drama skits (You Change Skit) to increase awareness on the causes, effects and the prevention of GBV among young adolescents.

Poker Card(Kitgum district)- A social enterprise focused on driving inclusion for people with disabilities in SRHR communication. Poker card is developing inclusive messaging on HIV/AIDs prevention while leveraging easy to understand graphic illustrations to enable persons hard of hearing interpret HIV/AIDS awareness messages.

Mieringa(Arua district)- A service focused on reaching parents of young adolescents in hard- to- reach communities, including refugee settlements with information on how to communicate and address the dangers of adolescent teenage pregnancies  .

Unity and Prosperity Medical Center(Lamwo district)- Establishment of mobile antenatal clinics to enable expectant mothers in refugee communities access safe delivery services within their community to solve the problem of long distances to the nearest health facilities

WeHelp(Kitgum district) – An  interactive voice response service  designed to help adolescents aged and youth access accurate  information on contraceptives in their preferred languages by providing them confidential and real time information through a toll free number and directing them to the nearest health facility.