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Social Innovation Academy (SINA)

eliciting refugee communities' untapped potentials to create solutions and pursue purpose in the world through social entrepreneurship.

Photo of Etienne Ssuubi
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*Please Upload User Experience Map (as attachment) and any additional insights gathered from Beneficiary Feedback in this field

We have learned that the Social Innovation Academy (SINA) works best in the refugee context. A refugee camp is a highly diverse place, which is a huge advantage. We saw that many have an inherent drive to get their life back on track and SINA allows ownership over building a sustainable future. Individuals from different cultures and different socioeconomic backgrounds create change together, embracing the diversity in the camps and emerge with new solutions in form of social enterprises.

Why does the target community define this problem as urgent and/or a priority? How is the idea leveraging and empowering community assets to help create an environment for success? (1000 characters)

Each refugee in Uganda currently receives 12Kg of flour, 4Kg of beans and 1L of oil per month, which is less than the bare minimum for survival and causing unrest. In the Bidi Bidi refugee camp (270,000 people) for example refugees told us that they have no choice but to cut trees for firewood in the host communities, which has led to conflicts. The most basic needs are not met and economic opportunities are almost non-existent. Women and girls are extremely vulnerable to exploitation and told us about sex in return for food. One young man told us his story, how he and his friends decided to return back to South Sudan despite the on-going civil war. A few months later he returned to the refugee camp in Uganda as the only survivor among his 11 friends. All had fallen into an armed ambush in their home village. Through SINA, the refugee communities are in charge of themselves and able to create their own solutions and a future for themselves through social entrepreneurship.

How does the idea fit within the larger ecosystem that surrounds it? Urgent needs are usually a symptom of a larger issue that rests within multiple interrelated symptoms - share what you know about the context surrounding the problem you are aiming to solve. (500 characters)

Unemployment stands at the heart of hopelessness and violence is often the recourse for young men. Studies in Africa have found a strong correlation with the likelihood of civil war increasing by more than half with a 5 percentage-point drop in annual economic growth (see: and joining rebel groups can be a way for young men to survive. Job creation and opportunity are prerequisites for lasting peace.

How does the idea affect or change the fundamental nature of the larger ecosystem that surrounds it (as described above) in a new and/or far-reaching way? (500 characters)

Uganda has an 83% youth unemployment rate. Many refugees are passively waiting for a resettlement in the global north. Managing themselves and enabled in a SINA Community, refugees are no longer passive but an become an active driver for the generation of opportunities, jobs and economic growth for themselves and the host communities. Creating a dignified and sustainable life in Uganda, refugees contribute to its well-being and become a boost to the economy, instead of being a perceived burden.

What will be different within the target community as a result of implementing the idea? What is the scope and scale of that difference? How long will it take to see that difference and how will it be sustained beyond BridgeBuilder support? (500 characters)

The refugee community is actively creating solutions to the most pressing social and environmental challenges around them. Financially self-sustaining social enterprises are created. In the Nakivale camp for example, one newly founded refugee enterprise is using irrigation from the nearby lake to make dry and infertile land suitable for agriculture in a rotational farming cooperative, whereby currently 12 families are generating food security and sustainable income.

How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

We have understood that SINA is not a property to be managed but rather a living system with an evolutionary purpose unfolding. Sensing and responding allows the organization to move rather than it being directed. Organizational learning is inherent in the SINA model and all members have the power to sense tensions and drive change to improve the system. Through the beneficiary feedback we evolved towards a clear focus on refugee communities. We learned that every community needs to fully own and self-manage their own academy. There is a need for adaptation to the local contexts while on the other hand the quality of the model and its core components (including its freesponsibility, training sessions, life-coaching, and mentoring) has to be guaranteed. Independent and refugee owned organizations (e.g. OPPORTUNIGEE) applying the SINA model through a social license in a Community of Practice allows for adequate support and the ability to adapt to local needs.

What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years? (You can attach a timeline or GANTT chart in place of a written plan, if desired.) (1000 characters)

The creation of 9 new SINA Communities in refugee communities across Uganda and Eastern Africa, as well as in stable parts of the home countries refugees are coming from (e.g. Bukavu in DRC, Bujumbura in Burundi or Somaliland in Somalia) with each Community eliciting refugees untapped potentials to create solutions and pursue purpose in the world through social entrepreneurship. and Establishing of one SINA Community of Practice to: - foster collective responsibility, ownership and support - learn and share collectively - allow dynamic and collective evolution of the SINA model - build relationships of trust - create ongoing value to all SINA Communities

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of roles and responsibilities for each entity). (Feel free to share an organizational chart or visual description of your team). (500 characters)

The model for replication and scaling is through the beneficiaries themselves. Refugees from different camps or urban slums join an existing SINA, experience it and take over responsibilities in co-running it with its community until ready to fully run it as a team on their own in a new community. The transparent role descriptions within the first SINA Community (Mpigi) are accessible here for an overview of the self-management structure:

What aspects of the idea would potential BridgeBuilder funds primarily support? (500 characters)

Each SINA Community is to be independent and needs to financially sustain itself. After 18 months, OPPORTUNIGEE has been able to do this as the first SINA replication. Financial support will be given to each of the 9 new SINA Community for initial startup (building of upcycled houses out of plastic bottles; basic tools; basic IT infrastructure and a contribution for running costs for up to one year), as well as the creation of the Community of Practice, Social License and support mechanisms.

In preparation for our Expert Feedback Phase: What are three unanswered questions or challenges that you could use support on in your project? These questions will be answered directly by experts matched specifically to your idea and needs.

Currently all replications of SINA are started with a team experiencing and co-managing SINA themselves. Because this often transforms their lives, the unique SINA culture can easily be taken forward and the individuals become living role-models. The downside is that it takes time (about 6 months to one year) for a team to have gone through SINA, transformed their own difficult past and learned the model through experience. 1. Could refugee communities create a Social Innovation Academy (SINA) without some of their community members having gone through a SINA experience elsewhere and how could the proven concept of the SINA Model be best captured to support this adoption of the model? 2. How could the learning from one SINA hub with new features (best practices) be best captured and through feed-forward impact the entire model to benefit all SINAs? 3. Which type of license and its implementation could best allow for quality standards to be met in each SINA, while allowing communities to adopt best to the local context? 4. Writing this contribution so far, we came across challenges finding one common terminology and would really appreciate feedback: - mostly we have been calling ourselves "scholars" (refraining from the terms "students or "beneficiaries") however phrases commonly used in the community are also "SINA members", "changemakers", " social entrepreneurs" and "fellows" - similarly we struggle to find a common term for the "space" or "hub" Aug. 11th UPDATE: 1. Finding the answer will require more experiments and prototyping 2. Through a Community of Practice (see more below) 3. We found a "Social Licence" most suitable 4. We have settled for now with the terms "SINA Community" for the physical space and distinctive terms for our learners/students depending on the stage of their journey: in Confusion Stage = Scholar in Emerging Stage = Practitioner in Concentration Stage = Mentee in Linking/Mastery Stages = Social Entrepreneur

Final Updates (*Please do not complete until we reach the Improve Phase*): How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

We have realized that the balance between local adaptation to the needs of the community and universal quality standards of the SINA model can best be achieved by creating a "Community of Practice". Since all SINA members run the individual SINA communities, everyone becomes a practitioner, sharing the same principles, values and culture and a passion to create new solutions in form of social enterprises. Everyone is also a learner, interacting regularly between the different geographical locations. The Community of Practice is locally rooted and globally connected. To allow full ownership of the model, each academy shares best practices for dynamic and collective evolving of the entire SINA model.

During this Improve Phase, please use the space below to add any additional information to your proposal.

The SINA model nurtures personal and professional growth. Scholars unlearn limiting believes, get rid of a fear of failing, expand their comfort zones and are equipped with 21st century skills for job creation and solution creation. The quality lies in the hands-on practical application of skills through self-management. The five step model was developed collectively in 2015, is dynamically evolving and currently works in the following way: 1. Confusion Stage is all about unlearning limiting believes, getting rid of the fear of failing, expanding one’s comfort zone, and—especially—discovering oneself. 2. In Emerging Stage beneficiaries set their own goals through Life-Coaching and break them down into actionable steps. Aligned with their personal vision they take over more and more responsibilities, making decisions for themselves, accounting, logistics, outreach, and everything needed to run SINA. New scholars learn from older scholars. It is self-organized empowerment and learning through experience. Outcomes are not imposed but scholars set their own goals and continuous steps to reach their dreams. Holacracy, a distributed authority management tool, gives a transparent process for taking up roles to gain the skills and experience needed for a scholar to found their own social enterprise. 3. Concentration Stage follows the lean startup model. Ideas are tested and refined continuously. Scholars are pushed to find out from potential customers and beneficiaries how their solution could work. Scholars explore, prototype and innovate on a continuous basis. What works is developed further and weekly progress presentations build confidence and give exposure. SINA provides a startup capital of only $25 US Dollars. Scholars learn to become independent and that money is not the most important asset for starting a venture, but that with dedication, resourcefulness and passion, they are able to raise the funds they need by themselves. 4. Once a team has gained traction and has impact or first revenue, it enters the Linking Stage, which is all about networking, partnerships and securing finance until the social enterprise walks on its own feet. 5. The final Mastery Stage offers ongoing mentoring support after a team has become independent to ensure its continuous growth and sustainability. Social Impact to date (after four years of the first SINA Community and 18 months of the 2nd SINA community (1st replication of the model as OPPORTUNIGEE): 29 — Social enterprises SINA Scholars established 150— scholars currently becoming social entrepreneurs through the SINA model 93— jobs created 500,000+ Lives touched through SINA Social Enterprises 500,000— Number of plastic bottles upcycled 80 + joint number of awards, nominations, fellowships and recognitions received by SINA members

Note that you may also edit any of your previous answers within the proposal. Here is a great place to note any big final changes or iterations you have made to your proposal below:

The idea about the Community of Practice emerged over the last few weeks while interacting with the beneficiaries. We were seeking for more expert input of other organizations who successfully already went through our current challenges of how to grow and scale from currently a few SINA communities to 25. We were able to connect and learn from the Impact Hub Network (which has scaled to 100 global locations) and met the Social Entrepreneurship Academy, which started in Scotland and has recently grown to 12 international hubs. We have understood that a Social License might work best for us because it: • it is rooted in a common purpose, values, principles and culture • has ongoing active approval within each SINA community (rather than a one time "acceptance" as a licensee) • it is dynamic and maintaining a relationship of trust • is co-owned by all SINA communities and all practitioners • gives a psychological identification and belonging We are grateful for having undergone the 2018 BridgeBuilder Challenge because it has allowed us to discover new insights and create the bigger vision for the future of SINA in a detailed approach. Now visualized, it will make it into fruition without a doubt and becoming one of the Top Ideas of the 2018 BridgeBuilder Challenge would leverage to spread our vision even faster, of a world in which social entrepreneurs create solutions overtaking all challenges in their local communities for peace, prosperity and the planet!

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Uganda has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world of 83% (see World Bank Statistics). In combination with one of the fastest growing populations and a recent intake of over 1 million refugees, this is a ticking time bomb for unrest. The Social Innovation Academy (SINA) empowers marginalized youth and refugee communities to create their own solutions in form of social enterprises with positive impact on the society and the environment. Youths are in charge of themselves and organize themselves in self-organized and freesponsible communities. Skills and experiences are gained through taking over responsibilities, leading the community through self-management. The organizational structure fosters the growth of every individual and offers opportunities to explore capabilities by taking over actual responsibilities and learn how to become a leader through actually leading. As changemakers, beneficiaries apply learning directly to turn challenges into solutions and leave with their own jobs established. Transcending their marginalized backgrounds, their own personal tragedies often become the driving force for the creation of social enterprises tackling the root causes of their own personal tragedies. An example is “Ask Without Shame”, where a former HIV orphan created an emergency sex education platform via mobile, supporting over 100,000 youth, which is scaling currently into refugee camps in Uganda: After three independent SINAs are currently running in three different communities (Nakivale and Bidi Bidi Refugee Camps and in Mpigi, Uganda) our 2018 BridgeBuilder project is the creation of a Community of Practice and a Social License enabling nine new refugee communities in East Africa own and replicate the SINA model in self-management. This will allow prospering, peaceful and environmentally conscious solutions and jobs to emerge and have an impact on 3 million lives.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Beneficiaries are youth from disadvantaged backgrounds living in refugee communities. Typically between 16 to 30 years, coming from diverse backgrounds and living in camps or urban slum areas. Some are former orphans, former street children, former sex workers, albinos, HIV positive and many had to go through very difficult circumstances in their recent past until reaching Uganda. Typically formal education is either unavailable in the community or the youth have dropped out. With a drive to create change, as empowered SINA changemakers their own personal tragedies often become the driving force for the creation of social enterprises, which tackle the root causes of the societal challenges in the community, while creating jobs, decent work and economic growth. For most, SINA is the first time in their lives where nothing is imposed on them. Diverse potentials within them are unleashed and fostered to a professional level and challenges transform into opportunities.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

The youth in the community fully manage SINA themselves, giving them the experiences and skills to create their own social enterprises and drive their own education. It is a human centered approach, where experienced-based learning allows competencies to be gained through freesponsible self-organization with distributed authority. Running costs of each SINA are minimal. There is no staff and no paid teachers but scholars in charge of themselves, fulfilling roles in self-management. In SINA in the Nakivale Refugee Camp (100,000 people) and in SINA in the Bidi Bidi Camp (270,000 people) monthly costs of 500 USD in each SINA enable 50 youth each to create a future for themselves. With only 10 USD per month per person, a meaningful and relevant education is obtained where youths leave with their own jobs. Running costs are self-sustained through income generation via hosting events, equity of emerged social enterprises and offering training and consultancy to outside organizations.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Early Adoption: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the intended users of the idea. I have begun to expand the pilot for early adoption.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

SINA is currently legally structured as the Ugandan NGO Jangu International (SINA Community in Mpigi), from where the other three following independent SINAs have also been born ( and the German NGO Jangu e.V. (, financially supporting all SINAs and selected SINA non-profit enterprises. We wish to create a new entity called "Social Innovation Academy (SINA)" as a charitable social business to give the social license and Community of Practice a home.

Expertise in sector

  • 5-7 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

Jangu e.V. was founded to support orphans and marginalized youth in Uganda since 2007 through educational sponsorships. When the first generation finished high school in 2013, they failed to find jobs. An open space session led to the idea of a place where youth would create their own jobs, which has become the first Social Innovation Academy (SINA) in Mpigi since 2015. After the first refugees found SINA themselves and joined in 2016, the focus shifted more into the refugee context.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Joblessness and the lack of opportunities are leading root causes of global unrest. In efforts to create jobs on a larger scale, governments often jeopardize the planet in the name of economic development. In Uganda for example, massive palm oil production allowed for the deforestation of close to 40,000 hectares of primary rain forest on the remote Ssesse Islands. 100% of SINA members say that through SINA they are now environmentally conscious. Some have created environmental enterprises. Prosperity is highly impacted by education. Someone educated will make better decisions and is more likely to find a job. In over 11 years, the Legatum Prosperity Index has continuously found entrepreneurship to be one of the most important variables for a countries' overall prosperity. Through SINA, jobless refugee youth are driving their own education, create their own opportunities and jobs through social enterprises with a positive impact on the society and a positive impact on the environment.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Denis has been a refugee from South Sudan in the Bidi Bidi Refugee Camp in Uganda. He joined SINA and started to derive a strength from his difficult past to impact the lives of other refugees, just as SINA had transformed his life. He created a team with six other refugees and together the team started implementing SINA in the Bidi Bidi refugee camp since April 2018. Patrick, Raphael and Victor were the first ones to do the same in 2016 and replicate the SINA model independently as "OPPORTUNIGEE" in the Nakivale Refugee camp: Just like those two teams, we are enabling marginalized youth to create their own versions of SINA in their different communities. The beneficiaries become the ones owning and running SINA. Every SINA becomes an independent organization, yet all live and run the same SINA model.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

We believe that marginalized youth have unique skills and experiences nobody else has. A former street child is better in position to create a solution for street kids than a PhD in psychology. Many find meaning in their previous suffering through creating a project to support others in similar situations they had experienced themselves. This intrinsic drive is a very strong success factor for a social enterprise and that is why some SINA scholars have gone as far as to be awarded by the Queen.

Geographic Focus

Uganda (Refugee Camps & Slum areas) with new teams wanting to start also in neighboring countries.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

We will empower nine new communities in the next 28 months to create and self-manage a SINA and with it create their own solutions and social enterprises improving the living conditions in the community. Through capturing and codifying the essence of the SINA model and create supporting structures to enable quality, yet allow for adaptation to local needs, we wish to achieve this. A Community of Practice will be created to allow the model of SINA unleash its full potential as a living system.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No
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Team (5)

Etienne's profile
TURATSINZE's profile

Role added on team:

"currently with his team creating "Unleash", a SINA community near Basecamp II in the Nakivale Refugee Settlement"

Raphael's profile
Raphael Muvunga

Role added on team:

"currently running "OPPORTUNIGEE", a SINA community in Basecamp I in the Nakivale Refugee Settlement"

emile's profile
emile kwilyame

Role added on team:

"currently with his team creating "Lazima Nipate", a SINA community in an urban slum area for refugees in Kampala"

miriam's profile
miriam feza

Role added on team:

"currently with her team creating "Lazima Nipate" a SINA community in an urban slum area for refugees in Kampala"


Join the conversation:

Photo of Innocent N. Tshilombo

Hello Etienne, I was excited to go through your idea. I associated what you are doing at Bidi Bidi camp and what we do at Kakuma Refugee camp in Kenya ( I see synergy to work together considering the complementarity of our projects. Keep up the good work and feel free to get in touch for more at and

Photo of Etienne Ssuubi

Thank you! I will send you an email today.

Photo of Etienne Ssuubi

Dear Innocent N. Tshilombo 
I have sent out twice emails to you and Kurt, however they have both bounced back and it seems like you might have a challenge with your domain or your accounts are full? Is there another email I could use? On your website you did not provide one.

Hoping to hear from you soon,

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