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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 suman  desai

Such a very helpful blog for me I ever seen this block could never think of such a thing is possible with it thank u for this blog keep sharing it and and and

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,

Photo of Richard Seshie

This is inspiring Etienne, you may want to have a look at this opportunity

Photo of Etienne Ssuubi

Dear Richard,
thank you, this looks great and we will apply!

Photo of Isaac Jumba

Hi Etienne Ssuubi  and team,

It is exciting to read through your updated idea based on expert, beneficiary and community feedback. I especially like that you have a great understanding of the SINA licensing model and have spoke to a few other organizations who have successfully implemented sort of a similar model.
As we near the end of the Improve phase, it would be perhaps great for you to shed more light on the team that will be involved in helping realize this new vision for SINA and on the work/implementation plan, and any other information/resources that you feel might help better paint the picture of the next steps.
Is there any additional help that you might need at this stage that you feel the community can additionally provide?


Photo of Etienne Ssuubi

Dear Isaac Jumba ,
We appreciate your additional offer for support. We have just now updated the contribution and added a detailed GANTT chart for a more clear implementation plan.


Photo of Brian Bauer

I just wanted to say that I love your project! One line in your write up really resonates with me and shows the wisdom and understanding within your project: "We have understood that SINA is not a property to be managed but rather a living system with an evolutionary purpose unfolding."
Best of luck with this amazing project! Brian

Photo of Etienne Ssuubi

Thank you Brian, yes this has been a game-changing learning and other pieces are coming into place now around this core element.

Photo of Macheru Karuku

Your idea is so relevant even in our Kenyan situation. SINA brings to live the real world in a refugee camp hither-to hidden to some of us. Your idea would therefore be a boon not only to this community but also to the larger ecosystem.
Youth unemployment will always be a motivation for unrest in Africa. For many reasons governments have not been able to cope with this. I therefore appreciate your idea because it focuses on and catalyses these people to do something for themselves without having to to wait for what they have no control over. I therefore highly commend your idea for this. All the best.

Photo of Etienne Ssuubi

Thank you so much for your encouraging words!

Photo of Enrique  Olivarez

Congrats on your great work so far on creating the model! It is exciting and has lots of possibility for long-term impacts on the youth. Do you plan to invest start-up funds in these budding social entrepreneurs or will they need to raise their seed funds to get up and running?

Photo of Etienne Ssuubi

Dear Enrique,

each SINA community provides capital of up to 25 US Dollars for the social entrepreneurs for the transport to meet someone, customer discovery, materials for a simple prototype or for testing an aspect of their idea. We do not fund or invest ourselves because we want our social enterprises to be truly independent. However, we are often able to connect them to potential donors or investors and some have already been able to raise as much as 200,000 US Dollars by themselves to get their enterprise of the ground.

Greetings from Uganda,

Photo of Jody null

My congratulations as well on developing your vision and model to date! To respond to one of your posed questions, for me "social entrepreneur" was the language that best captured the role as I understood it. I appreciate your recognition that it is important to be consistent with the language, and how useful it can be in quickly and effectively describing the program. All the best!

Photo of Gayanjith Premalal

Hi Etienne Ssuubi  ! Congratulations on getting shortlisted for the refinement phase! It's a very creative and innovative idea that you are proposing. And another fun fact is "Sina" means "Smile" in Sinhala (in Sri Lanka) :)

As I understood first, SINA is a model which is similar to 'Training the trainer'. Am I correct? These refugees can be talented people that possess unique skill sets and who had been doing very good jobs before the unfortunate situations. Any plans to identify this talent and to make use of that? Sometimes we do big mistakes by stereotyping things and people.

I really like the idea of beneficiaries running the program themselves. It makes them make decisions for themselves. But at some point they might need a mentor. Do you have a plan for that?

In a big idea like this, it is normal to make a few assumptions and design on that. Have you made any assumptions? If so, what is the riskiest assumption that you have made here?

Photo of Etienne Ssuubi

Hey Gayanjith Premalal 

Thank you for your feedback and thought provoking questions!
Each academy itself has the goal to foster local solutions to emerge in form of social enterprises with social and environmental impact, and our scholars to leave with their own jobs.

Some teams wish to create a new SINA as their social enterprise. To be able to take the model forward, different team members specialize in the core elements of the model: self-organization, life-coaching, empowerment training and mentoring. After having first participated, members start to co-facilitate and after, fully lead their area. Additionally, weekly mentoring training sessions give support, for example, for the upcoming mentors, whereby scholars are even certified in the end through a partner organization from the US (Work for Life).

We are also prototyping and experimenting with an online mentoring platform for potential external mentors such as yourself, to come on board in a structured and powerful way. As a business analyst and design enthusiast, would you be willing to join?

In terms of talent identification, we rather look for an inherent drive in an individual, rather than previous experiences or knowledge. A selection day full of fun challenges and activities allows the community to find the individuals who are fighting to get out of the difficulties they are currently in. Then the SINA model can best support to unleash potentials and channel this energy into contributing to the community and ultimately creating a social enterprise.

There are still many assumptions. We currently see the three biggest ones as:
- Each SINA community will be able to financially self-sustain after initial support
- The SINA model works in different cultural and geographical contexts
- Each community is able to adapt to local needs while being able to keep a shared SINA culture alive

Smiles from Uganda ;-)

Photo of Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO)

This is a fantastic proposal and innovative idea! You mention new scholar teams wanting to start in neighboring countries, which is amazing! How do you plan to bring your model across borders and adapt it for the specificities of the new communities in which it is used?

Photo of Etienne Ssuubi


I see that you work with youth in Kibera. It might potentially be through your community members for example. A few interested ones could join us in Uganda, go through the model and if passionate about empowering others in the same way, take it to Nairobi! It is our scholars who replicate SINA to new places and make it their own, adjusting to the local needs.

Greetings from Uganda,

Photo of Isaac Jumba

Hi Etienne Ssuubi great to have your idea and congratulations for making it to the shortlist.
Sometime last year I happened to visit SINA's centre in Mpigi with a friend for several days and it was amazing what we saw and the great experience we received from the SINAs including hiking in the hills, the food and sleeping in the thatched houses. We also enjoyed being shown realtime what the entrepreneurs were working on. Really good job.

Thanks for also updating your idea with the new added questions. For the beneficiary feedback, I was wondering if you could highlight:
1. What sought of experiements/prototypes you are currently carrying out or hoping to carry out or have carried out recently and what you hope to learn or what you have learnt so far. You might look at this resource for some guide:
2. Could you also highlight more on the partners you are currently working with and their role in the SINA ecosystem.
Looking to read the feedback.

Photo of Etienne Ssuubi

Dear Isaac Jumba,

amazing that you had visited us last year! It sounds like you really enjoyed your experience and we hope to host you again soon!

In a first experiment, we invited already existing youth empowerment and training organizations to find out if we could partner or if potentially they would be interested in creating a SINA community. We learned that the self-organized approach needs to start from the bottom, from the beneficiaries themselves. We feared that with an existing organization it would be a top down approach, with the community members as passive recipients instead of the active drive.

We have been creating a close relationship with the Mpigi District Local Government and signed a Memorandum of Understanding outlining a partnership. One of the experiments was to test if the SINA model could be replicated through existing youth councils in Mpigi district and we invited all of them from the different areas of the district for an interaction. We learned about some of their challenges with bureaucracy and the sometimes political obstacles for youth to create something for themselves.

We also invited referred youth from different zones of the Nakivale and also Bidi Bidi refugee camps for interaction. Comparing the drive between the three groups, we saw the biggest and untapped potential in the refugee community. We could observe and feel how many of the individuals are determined to put their lives back on track and will never give up. Giving these individuals a space and tools to create their own solutions and a model on how to structure themselves, can create huge impact for the entire refugee camp. We decided to fully focus on refugees for the 12 new communities.

In the Bidi Bidi Refugee camp, we are currently partnering with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), responsible for the refugee camps in Uganda. We have also engaged with the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development and submitted a first draft for cooperation.

In the near future, we wish to prototype how best to support the new communities in creating their SINA hub, while owning it fully. Our current ideas we wish to test are:
- an online platform to capture sessions and training materials
- an online network for sharing and learning together between the different communities
- coaching and mentoring training by experienced SINA members to have high quality mentors and coaches in each community and how a “certification” or badge system could work
- testing different elements of a “playbook” around the SINA model and in which form it needs to be delivered to reach its highest potential

Photo of James Patton

Hi Etienne!

Your project is very unique and seems very innovative. Could you elaborate on how exactly youths at the SINA acquire skills and leadership experience? Do they "apprentice" with community leaders? Is there a standard skills-training or leadership-training curriculum throughout the SINAs?

Photo of Etienne Ssuubi

Dear James Patton ,

Thank you for your questions. I wish there would be more space in the above questions for writing more about our unique approach. However, I will explain for you more here in the comment section:

Skills and experiences are gained through taking over responsibilities in SINA. There is no staff but beneficiaries run SINA themselves. Competencies are gained by making actual decisions and being in charge of an element of SINA. Holacracy, a distributed authority management tool, allows for taking up dynamic roles to continuously grow in abilities until ready for founding a social enterprise.

Somebody for example is in charge of water for the entire community. If no water is available the role holder will need to solve the problem, create new solutions, potentially plan better for the next month, budget, monitor, etc.

Everyone creates their own curriculum according to their needs, goals and the roles taken over. Five stages support this process and guide the journey:

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 in a structured initial six weeks training.

2. In Emerging Stage, the quality lies in the hands-on practical application of skills through self-management. SINA members take over more and more responsibilities, make decisions for themselves, do the accounting, logistics, outreach, and everything needed to run the SINA Hub. New scholars learn from older scholars. It is self-organized empowerment and learning through experience. Life-Coaching supports the continuous steps taken to reach the set personal and professional goals.

3. Concentration Stage follows the lean startup model. Ideas are tested and refined continuously. Through customer discovery, experiments and prototypes the solutions are refined on a continuous basis. What works is developed further and weekly progress presentations build confidence and allow for feedback. SINA provides only minimal capital for prototypes. Scholars learn to become independent and that money is not the most important asset for starting a social enterprise, 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 for established and independent social enterprises, to ensure its continuous growth and sustainability.

Photo of Janet Aguti
Team’s a unique idea. How amazing it is to hear that other people can actually create an opportunity for employment that they love.

Photo of Angi Yoder Maina

Your SINA project makes so much sense, helping young people own their own education and supporting them to find how to take their education and turn it into their own livelihood. Amazing. Good luck with this project, East Africa needs innovators like this!


Photo of Etienne Ssuubi

Thank you so much Angi Yoder Maina  for your encouraging words!

Photo of Macklean Nkamwesiga

Greetings Etienne, SINA is surely a good project. I am glad to connect with you and i believe many communities in Uganda can benefit from this great innovation. I look forward to discuss more