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Social Innovation Academy (SINA)

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

Photo of Etienne Ssuubi
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Uganda has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world of 83%. 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 disadvantaged 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 community hubs. Skills and experiences are gained through taking over responsibilities, leading the community through self-management. Scholars become changemakers applying learning directly to turn challenges into solutions and leave with their own jobs established.

Transcending their backgrounds as refugees, orphans, street children or other 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 four independent SINAs are currently running in four different communities (two in the Nakivale Refugee Camp, one in the Bidi Bidi Refugee Camp and one in Mpigi) the project is a community empowerment to enable twelve new marginalized communities in East Africa to implement the model in self-management and enable prospering, peaceful and environmentally conscious solutions and jobs to emerge through social entrepreneurship.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Beneficiaries are youth from disadvantaged backgrounds living in communities. Typically between 16 to 30 years, they are for example refugees living in refugee camps or urban poor living in slum areas. Among them are furthermore former orphans, former street children, former sex workers, albinos, HIV positive and people having grown up in difficult circumstances.

Typically formal education is either unavailable in the community or the youth have dropped out.

With a drive to create change, as empowered 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.

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

Scholars manage SINA themselves which gives 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 happens and competencies are gained through freesponsible self-organization with distributed authority.

The running costs of each SINA are minimal. There is no staff and no paid teachers but the scholars are 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 Refugee Camp (300,000 people) monthly costs of 500 USD in each SINA enable 50 youth to create a future for themselves. With only 10 USD per month per person, a meaningful and relevant education is obtained where scholars 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 not a property to be managed but rather a living system with an evolutionary purpose waiting to unfold. Sensing and responding allows the model to evolve rather than it being directed. All members in all SINAs have the power to sense tensions and drive change within the system. Lessons learned are integrated and dynamically optimize the quality of all programs and engage all users.

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 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. (Germany) has been set up 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 in Uganda led to the idea to design a place together where the youth would create their own jobs, which has become the first Social Innovation Academy (SINA) in Mpigi since 2015 and since 2016 been replicated thrice by its beneficiaries.

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.

Prosperity is highly impacted by education. Someone educated will make better decisions and is more likely to find a job.

Through SINA, jobless youth are driving their own education and create their own opportunities 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 of 6 other refugees and is 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 Nakviale 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 is its independent organization, yet all live the same 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 scholar teams wanting to start in neighboring countries

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

We wish to empower twelve new communities in the next 36 months to create their own solutions and social enterprises through enabling youth form teams and create their own versions of SINA. Through capturing and codifying the essence of the SINA model and create supporting structures enabling quality, yet allow for adaptation to local needs, we wish to achieve this.

We need to experiment with, design and prototype how a support system could look like and be most effective.

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

  • No

1 comment

Join the conversation:

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!