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Bold Nation Agency

We seek to creatively employ youth on the move and their neighbours to sustain their livelihood and build their experiences together as one.

Photo of Ikong James
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Through therapeutic art, the idea is to have both youth on the move and their neighbours develop designs that talk to the entire community. The designs could communicate their agenda to the community, as well as raise awareness on mental health. Then, the youth could create products; that is, a clothing line where these designs are printed on differing material that the community itself will be able to purchase. This idea will create employment opportunities for these youth both host and those on the move, as it would eliminate the challenge of youth unemployment within the community. As the community purchases the clothing items and starts new discussions, we believe that this will bridge the gaps among the youths themselves as they work together to push their agenda as one youth with one voice. This unity among the youth is necessary as they face same barriers to getting sustainable employment. The older workers refuse to give way to the youth to get employed, for instance, and this can greatly hinder these youth to get employed. There are also social barriers by host community youth who discriminate against youth on the move through perceptions that favor host community youth in an "us against them" mentality. This should never be a problem; we should alleviate this host community youth versus refugee youth crisis in seeking gainful opportunities for employment, this has become another social dilemma. Therefore there is a need to bridge the gap between the youth to collaboratively work together and create more opportunity for themselves, as well as provide a solution to the mental health question that still stigmatizes the community and affect productivity of these youth when they become gainfully employed.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

This idea is already being implemented in Kampala, Uganda within the very urban communities of unemployed host community youth with the aim of branching out. We want to focus next on the youth on the move in the city before going to temporary areas of settlement, i.e., refugee camps around Uganda. By equipping our urban youth in Kampala through "Bold Nation Agency," they will be able to inspire other youth in areas of community building and therapeutic art in refugee camps around the nation.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

This idea builds the bridge of collaborative working together for a common agenda as youth. Through their work of designing art for mental health awareness and building a clothing line that they will own, they will be able to forge a family within themselves. And as the youth on the move learn to work and connect with others from different backgrounds, they will better understand themselves and partner with their community. "Bold Nation Agency" can help grow the whole community closer together.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

This idea will create better community, first with the youth on the move and then with their neighbours. By forging a family of brothers and sisters working together, each of these youth will gain respect and better understanding of each other. The therapeutic art activities can assist in gaining self esteem, developing a voice in their community, and in creating a positive awareness for mental health among youth artists and their audience. In addition to strengthening community, this idea will ultimately eliminate unemployment for youth on the move and neighbours. As "Bold Nation Agency" aims to be a complete guide to sustainable livelihood business strategy, youth would support their individual families and communities. This employment of youth on the move will then satisfy their basic needs through the salaries and wage they will generate from pushing their designs on their own clothing line and, later on, a design agency.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

After our pilot project, we hope to gainfully employ about 50 youth, which would include 60% youth on the move and 40% of youth from the host community. (Please note that we are aware of the 70/30 policy of engaging people on the move in Uganda, and while we support having a majority of youth on the move, we are also sympathetic to the host youth. Our aim is to unite both groups, using a more equal 60/40 ratio.) Through "Bold Nation Agency" these youth will spark debates from the community about mental health through their designs and advocacy and we hope that this will prompt the government to pay more attention to the mental health needs of its people and those they are hosting. The team of well equipped youth from the urban center will also be encouraged to scale the project to different areas of temporary settlement i.e refugee camps and different host community and build capacity of about one million youth around the nation with a sustainable livelihood business strategy.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

A few years ago as we initiated Art For Social Empowerment, I had the opportunity to discuss at length the "youth unemployment" question with a colleague, who is a visual artist and a leader in his community of the people on the move. During a critical point of our discussion, I remember him sharing about the mindset and ideology of the youth on the move. He said, "James, you know as we do these activities, the refugees struggle with a lot of mental health issues that affect their work, and it's hard for me to mobilize these people without giving them something (money) for results. They are used to handout from local and international aid and it's hard for them to get jobs long term." This was no different from what I had also noticed with the host community youth who looked at government for support. Looking at the gaps, we thought to ourselves, "How can we bring these youth to work together for same solution to same challenges?" And hence the idea of "Bold Nation Agency" was formed.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

Based on the community research that we carried out about three years ago within Nsambya in Kampala, we discovered that many unemployed youth depended on mostly handouts and services from different entities. These handouts were stated to be from community based organisation, United Nation agencies and their partners, and other non-profit organisations within the community. We noticed that majority of those we interviewed and worked with, about 80% of the youth, were visiting counselors for mental health reasons. But, because of the limited number of counselors, the services were inadequate. There was also a communication gap between the youth as the host youth always discriminated against those on the move. The struggle for employment had left most host community youth and those on the move desperate. Many become alcoholic and struggled with stress and depression. Those who were employed earned very little to sustain their livelihoods, increasing the risk of mental health problems.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

Uganda has a population of about 43.5 million people of those 70% are youth, from which 68% are either partially employed or unemployed. The projected number of people on the move with in the country by end of 2019 will be about 1.73 million people, almost 65% of that population are youth and children. These youth on the move in their high numbers struggle with both accessing enough services and maintaining a sustainable livelihood plan. Such unemployment seems to be the trend with in the communties irrespective of the many interventions by different high-up organizations and the government. However, with this project, they will have a chance to build something that they own and believe in, which will uplift their livelihoods and strengthen the community. Mental health awareness will be raised and youth on the move will be empowered to express themselves and connect better to their communities; hence, it is a success all around.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

At the moment, the project is being implemented under "Art for Social Empowerment" that partners with "Jayvi Arts Limited," another local enterprise more business-centered to provide resources for screen printing on t-shirts and other clothing materials as well as outsource screen printing projects on a sub-contract basis. This project will seek to collaborate more with local non-profit organisations and community-based organisations, corporate entities as well as the Ugandan government and other individuals.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Being on the move, crossing borders, and/or temporarily settled

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Channel: A new way to deliver existing products or services to customers or end users

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Pilot: We have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users. The feasibility of an innovation is tested in a small-scale and real world application (i.e. 3-15% of the target population)

Group or Organization Name

Art For Social Empowerment initially " Art For Development "

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

We are a registered social enterprise with a plan to fully register as a non-profit organisation. Our vision seeks to address the mental health challenges of communities through art, and our mission is to change mindsets and address mental health concerns through therapeutic art activities. The initiative was started in 2015 by a team of 6 youth after the approval from "InterAid Uganda," the implementors of UNHCR in partnership with Ugandan government under OPM. This idea fits into our goals as it will, on different scales, address both the mental health issues of the communities as well as positively change people's mindsets through the anticipated positive impact of the project on the community. The organisation being based in the community where it is implementing its pilot project, has through its beneficiaries been able to carry out outreach activities, advocacy on mental health and built community partnerships. We now seek to branch out to different communities as well.

Type of submitter

  • We are a For-Profit Startup or Startup Social Enterprise

Organization Headquarters: Country


Organization Headquarters: City / State



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Photo of Delma  Mashilwane

Hello Ikong,

Great work, and wishing you all the best with your idea to the next round.

Photo of Ikong James

Thanks Delma Mashilwane for your support and encouragment. Wishing you the best with the community based organisation you are seeking to register in south africa for the youth and children. Best of luck to you too through the next phase.

Ikong James 

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