The centre is designed to build and capitalize on individual strengths, develop their 21st century skills, provide them with resources and support with the goal of empowering take charge of their own long-term professional growth. The centre’s strategic approach will use an innovative and experiential learning methodology that will inspire, equip and skill youth to ignite their self-discovery, confidence and self-esteem, leadership, communication, cognitive skills, critical thinking, innovation and inter-dependence (team work) for them to confidently and competitively enter the global economy and job market as employers or employees. Notwithstanding the employment, the centre will energize the desire of the youth to make the world a better place by giving them skills for social change and social marketing.
The centre’s theory of change therefore is that as a movement of inspired, active, skilled and engaged youth is built, their thinking, feelings and vision will be framed to confidently take charge of their lives, build strong partnerships for collective actions towards community development while creating income earning opportunities for themselves. Our theory of change also has it that because of the inspiration gained from the mentors from the centre, the youth will also follow the suit and get to inspire other youth in and out of University as mentors and coaches.
Burua, a student of BSc. Human Nutrition and Dietetics user experience map:
At the centre, mentors will guide the youth through an innovative, fun filled experiential curriculum in socio-economic empowerment and transformation.
The centre will link the selected students to organizations and companies for a six month internship to gain practical employment experience and mentorship by experienced host organization/company mentors.
To gain skills in social change and social marketing for improved nutrition and health of communities, each youth in the centre will conduct outreaches to at least ten households. In the outreaches the youth will provide social change interventions including behaviour change messages and health and nutrition products such as water guard, food stuff, etc. This way these teams of professionals will learn how to support the country to address increasing nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) challenges. The centre will our sister team's Pop Up Bus model for community outreaches.
Through the centre the youth will have access to information, space and resources to actualize, launch and grow their businesses, increase their earnings and create new jobs in their communities. The centre will also work with various financial institutions to develop the youth’s business plans and financial literacy so that they get access to affordable financing for their enterprises. Additionally, the Innovative Centre will partner with agencies focused on community mobilization to support the youth with outreaches. By forming Youth Savings and Loan Associations and Innovative Business Clusters, the youth will gain peer-to-peer learning and collectively produce and market their products and nutrition related services.
The youth enrolled in the centre will participate in bi-annual Mentoring Walk and attend a one-week Boot Camp at which they will pitch their ideas to investors, exhibit and sell their products or services. The youth will graduate to join the strong alumni of Inspirational Youth of Uganda and become role models and mentors for other youth in their communities.
As we learn from the implementation of the idea, we will consider engaging alumni from the centre to reach our students during classes to provide them with preflight challenges using Gavin's proposed model. Check out the idea here . Challenging University lecturers' attitudes to embrace these kind of experiential learning approach will take time (see the article in Aljezeera by Professor Calestous Juma on the call for action for African Universities to change their approach to training students by President Museveni). Hence, it is necessary to generate evidence that the idea works and this is what the Innovation Centre will focus on during this phase.
What problem is the Innovative Centre solving?
Uganda has the world’s highest population of young people under 30 years—78 percent. The country also boasts of the highest youth unemployment in Africa at 62 —83 percent. Although enrolment in schools increased from 29.2% (1991) to 42.2% (2009), formal education alone does not empower youth (UNESCO). It is estimated 40,000 graduates are passed out of Ugandan Universities each year. But only 8,000 or 20 percent get jobs. Those who get jobs often get them at the lowest level of the value chain where they earn less than $50 a month (Uganda Bureau of Statistics and ILO, 2013). Additionally, only 1 out of 30 youth-owned businesses survives beyond 2 years due to lack of basic business skills and access to proper financing (Enterprise Uganda, 2012). The Uganda's Leading daily paper 'The New Vision' of August 30, 2014 in a special feature provided detailed analysis of internship crisis facing the youth (see the extract below).
Youth unemployment causes social and economic losses to government and families. Ugandan government loses tax payers’ money annually rescuing jobless graduates lured into prostitution in foreign countries, loses revenue due to drug trafficking and road accidents caused by frustrated unemployed graduates. Families are psychologically and socially tormented for educating children who fail to get jobs after University. International Labour Organization blames unemployment of graduates on the mismatch between the skills the graduates are equipped with what the market demand. Lack of guidance at home/university, absence of role models/mentors for inspiration and guidance; lack self-confidence and other 21st century skills make today’s youth more vulnerable in spite of acquiring lots of technical skills. Gone are the days when it was easy for students to find internships in organizations and companies. Today Ugandan companies and organizations are not keen to take on students for internship partly because of the burden it comes with and also due to poor attitudes of students that disgust many agencies. University students have been accused of having poor etiquettes, time management and other soft skills and employers do not have time to babysit them. Hence, their employability is very low. Without soft skills even those who venture into business often do not make it.
Business experts and leaders believe every young person in Uganda has the potential to create jobs if only they read the right literature and associated with people who can uplift them in their struggle. Coaching of youth in soft skills like team work, leadership, communication, critical skills and entrepreneurship could rescue unnecessary losses and promote GDP for governments, income for households and individuals. Professionals matched to market demand are likely to succeed in all dimensions of life and contribute to health and economic wellbeing for all.
Nutrition is forms a strong foundation for any nation and greatly contributes to GDP. With increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) coupled with hunger, creation of qualified champions and teams to help governments, private firms, individuals and communities adopt good public health behaviors is global agenda—including in the draft post 2015 MDGs. Yet, developing countries are struggling with creation of necessary leadership and skilled work force to tackle the challenge multi-sectorally. The negative attitudes of professionals such as medical doctors towards nutritionists coupled with poor soft skills like team work, leadership and communication make it harder to solve these pressing global development challenges more so in Africa. Perhaps starting the molding of the youth to understand what it takes to work in teams of different professionals with the same cause would help bridge the gap and exploit market opportunities for employment.
The graduates who make through the haddock and get employed are in better position to influence their young brothers and sisters to take up the necessary skills while in University. For instance if the 217 nutritionists who graduated in Kyambogo University from 2009-2013 were all employed in diverse fields and worked with other technocrats, Uganda would have gained higher GDP and community health and nutrition challenges reduced. The skills and networks acquired by the youth from the centre will directly translate into and create employment pathways.
What is Innovative about this idea?
The centre is the first University affiliated nutrition innovation that focuses on building networks of the youth to create innovative business centres for employment while catalyzing social change through appropriate social marketing in Uganda. Most incubation centres are focused on creating business and employment for the youth without focusing on addressing pressing community nutrition and WASH challenges. By applying Pop Up Bus model where facilitators and community pathfinders (the youth enrolled in the centre), the centre will empower the youth to bring about social change in their communities. The centre by the end of the first years will have helped 270 University students gain at least 3 years’ work experience.
Who will benefit from this idea?
The primary target for the centre are students of age group 15-35 years in academic and vocational training institutions in Uganda. The students who have completed and graduated from training institutions and those without any formal training are also targeted.The secondary target audience are Universities, vocational training institutions and high schools within where the primary target are obtained. The other secondary target audience are potential employers (such as catering industry, schools, foods and beverages processing companies, NGOs, media houses, research institutions, consultancy firms, agricultural farms, hospitals and clinics, sports, telecommunication companies, banks, gyms/physical activity establishments, and other relevant business establishments). The centre targets government and development partners (such as USAID, DFID, Irish Aid, WHO, FAO, UN women, etc) as tertiary audience to provide technical, policy and other relevant support to the youth, the Innovative Centre and training institutions.
How to monitor the progress of the idea?
To enhance the learning process and targeting for the intervention, documentation, monitoring and evaluation forms a big part of the Innovative Centre. The following are the performance indicators the centre will measure (adapted from the Benchmark Incubation Globally):
- # Active coaches/mentors in the centre
- # Applications for enrolment into the centre received
- # Youth graduated from the centre after 5 years
- # Contacts with seed capital firms
- # Contacts with business providers
- # Contacts with venture capital firms
- # Contacts with large corporations
- # Contacts with the government
- # Mentor walks held
- # Hours coaches/ # Hours mentors
- # International partners/sponsors/investors networks in the centre
- # Jobs created
- # Size alumni network
- # University staff involved in the centre
- $ Funding available (clients)
- $ Seed fund
- % Youth acquired and enrolled into the centre after 5 years
- % Youth still running operations
- % Youth that utilize mentoring
- % Youth in the centre that don’t need funding for their business
- % Level of change in nutrition and WASH behaviors in targeted communities attributable to the youth in the centre
- % Youth innovation business centres surviving up to 5 years
How to sustain the idea and who are the main players and partners?
The Innovative Centre is deemed self-sustaining because strategies are in place to ensure it does not entirely depend on external funding. The following strategies are in place to sustain the idea:
- Leverage existing resources: The Innovative Centre believes in creating synergies and leveraging existing resources locally and internationally. These resources include financial, material and human. The centre will tap into existing youth development initiatives in the country and communities to reduce cost of mobilization, development of materials, M&E and overall buy-in. There is some development initiatives creating some employment for the youth in the country that the centre will bench mark on. See: http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/653037-u-s-tells-ugandan-youth-to-cause-positive-change.html
- The government started a youth livelihood program where youth can access credit: http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/649649-gov-t-starts-youth-livelihood-program.html
- The centre will enter into partnership with universities and schools to reduce cost by using their facilities where necessary. Century Entrepreneurship Development Agency-CEDA International’s work with many of these institutions around Uganda and has offered to introduce the Innovative Centre to them.
- Entering into partnership with companies and organizations: Working with corporate companies that have a link towards youth empowerment such as financial institutions to sponsor financial literacy and business planning. The centre will also enter into partnership with Uganda Health Marketing Group (UHMG) and Marie Stoppes for social enterprises for the youth in the Innovative Centre. The youth through the partnership will sell health products like purifying water tablets, mosquito nets etc. for these companies and earn money. Through community mobilization activities such as road shows organized by these companies the Innovation Centre will also market its products and services. The Centre will strategically partner with foods and beverages companies (such as Coca Cola, Rwenzori Beverages, Pepsi, Rihaam, Unilever, P&G, etc) to promote healthy life styles and nutrition. Additionally, we will align with corporates that are doing road shows and market activations such as Uganda Telecoms, Rwenzori water and banks. We anticipate the Pop Up Bus (the centre’s partner) can become their moving bill board when they brand it, it promotes their brands, products/services and at the same time teaches communities. Thanks to Uwe who has advised us to consider partnering with leading CROP SCIENCE companies that are looking for some outstanding projects in context of agricultural innovation and social efforts in human nutrition. By working with these companies, the Innovation Centre would help increase production, marketing and utilization of high value foods for improved health and nutrition. Knowing how important the media is in promoting these kind of initiatives, the centre will explore partnerships with the New Vision,Daily Monitor, NTV, Urban TV, NBS, UBC and other regional and international media houses to widely spread information about the initiative and how it helps the youth (see how the media publicized the Pakasa--entrepreneurship forum in August for some insights). This partnership can also help in capturing and showing testimonials of the youth, employers, mentors and University lecturers about the initiative.
- Enter into partnership with Century Entrepreneurship Development Agency- Century Entrepreneurship Development Agency-CEDA to provide Leadership and Entrepreneurship training to the youth. Together the partners, the centre will tweak manuals to fit to the centre’s needs of transforming the youth and giving the practical skills. The mentors from Century Entrepreneurship Development Agency-CEDA International will help train the Innovative Centre’s team or work directly in project implementation.
- Application for proposals for funding is another avenue the centre will use to implement its activities. The centre will contact US Missions in different countries as they have various grants targeting the youth but also developing countries. Other development agencies such as UN, European Union, DFID, Irish Aid, Norwegian, Canadian and other international developmental organization will be contacted
- Product and service design, marketing and implementation: the Innovative Centre through teams of youth will produce nutritious food products and other health and nutrition services and market them to generate income to sustain the centre. The innovation here is the centre will identify the market first and then get to tailor the product or service needed. The centre will consider picking up innovations in production and selling of food by adapting some of the ventures that have worked elsewhere in the world such as: https://openideo.com/challenge/womens-safety/ideas/mamacarts-empowerment-through-street-food, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/18/conquering-food-deserts-with-green-carts/, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/27/nyregion/fresh-produce-comes-to-the-bronx-via-a-veggie-mart-on-wheels.html, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/11/nyregion/11carts.html?_r=0
- Outsourcing employees for corporates, NGOs, and other companies will generate money for the centre as the centre trains the youth suited to the needs of the employer. The employer does not have to manage the employee directly as that remains the task of the centre. The employer pays the centre monthly for the services of the employee
- Implication of donor projects: The centre will into partnership with large NGOs so that it is sub granted to provide specific interventions in given projects. Given that most NGOs implementing projects in Uganda are international and now days donors encourage at 40% of the grants get channeled to the local organizations, the centre stands high chance of getting sub granted for social mobilization and social marketing, livelihoods, nutrition and other economic strengthening activities
- Establishing outlets: We will run low cost outlets with great branding where a doctor comes in to check people for diseases like high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, diabetes, etc – for free. People will sign up to get continuous information, but at the same time for consumer health snacks, drinks, porridges, etc, that the centre’s nutritionists and food technologists make. The centre will establish and run its own consulting/coaching business for clients within Kampala and the neighbouring districts. This way clients seen will pay for the services provided. Through the coaching program, the centre will also charge for supporting other service providers who are not part of the Innovative Centre to establish and run standard nutrition and health services for clients using quality improvement approaches. The centre plans to make use design and sell social marketing and social mobilization tools for NGOs, individuals and companies. These include video testimonials and teaching aids made out of crafts. We will also provide similar trainings for agencies at a fee.
How might you prototype this idea and test some of the assumptions behind it?
The Centre will sign memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the targeted training institutions and potential employers (including business establishments) to clearly spell out the terms and conditions for engaging with the Centre and the youth. The Innovative Centre envisions using strategic partnerships with established agencies, businesses, individuals and centres to leverage resources.
The Innovative Centre will adopt, update and refine existing training materials to suit the unique needs of the centre’s targeted audience. In addition to training manuals, the team will produce video testimonials of the youth, mentors, employers and students sharing their stories as means of keeping the target audience motivated to embrace the idea. Once all the training materials are ready, the centre with support from its partners will conduct training of mentors and coaches. The objective of the training is to impart the necessary leadership, communication, inspirational, entrepreneurship, team work, critical thinking and resource mobilization skills to core team of the Innovative Centre.
Equipped with the ideas, the mentors and coaches will reach out to the University students (we plan to start with one University—Kyambogo University in Kampala Uganda) with the objective of inspiring them to seize existing opportunities in the job market. The students who successfully complete the training will get placed in different projects with the Innovative Centre to plan, implement, document and monitor. Each project or idea will have a coach/mentor to support different team members to successfully accomplish their projects as required in the agreement with the employers. To address the gaps in hands on experience of the students, the Innovative Centre through its coaches will identify and match the students to different agencies where they are placed for internship for a period of at least 6 months. The coaches will develop a scope of work for each student and will share the scope with the identified agencies for review and approval. Given that agencies especially those in the private sector are not comfortable dealing with interns, the Innovative Centre will sign an agreement with each agencies so that the centre takes full responsibility of managing the intern while in the specific agency they are placed in. The centre will organize series of workshops with the students, coaches, mentors, employers, government and development partners to share the innovative approach and how each of them will engage with the centre. The first workshop will bring together these important stakeholders and will act as a platform for the students to share their dreams and hopes for the future.
The employers will also use the workshop to share their expectations of employees, challenges they are faced with today and suggestions for improving student training. The subsequent workshops will focus on the students that get recruited into the program and the facilitators/coaches will use these workshops to impart the 21st century skills into the recruits. The centre anticipates holding two workshops for one day in each semester of study for University students. At the completion of the first set of the workshops, the recruits get rewarded for their workshop with certificate of completion. The recruits will receive the certificates from top university leader in witness of other students, professors and young professionals as means of motivating others to get involved in the program. The centre will organize a grand workshop to graduate those members of the centre who complete one year of implementation. These graduates will thereafter receive special training as coaches to reach to the younger generation in schools and Universities. The same cycle will get followed year in year out.
We target to recruit and mentor 30 students from four departments of Kyambogo University in the first year of the implementation of the innovation. We prefer to start small, try out, learn, develop a change package and then scale up to more students, departments and Universities in the subsequent years of implementation.
Literature review leading to refinement of our idea:
- "What is clear is that we must encourage our young people to believe in themselves; they do not have to have all the information, nor see the whole picture at the beginning.The value of pursuing their dreams despite an incomplete picture is the testimony of the majority of successful business and political entrepreneurs of our time."http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/659521-tackling-youth-unemployment.html
- “Universities have a tremendous role to play in creating solutions and opportunities, both through knowledge and technical skills. Universities arealso living laboratories for coming up with solutions and testing ideas,” said MasterCard Foundation’s Roy. http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20140904154515222
- Uganda's unemployed graduates held back by skills gaps. http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jan/16/uganda-unemployed-graduates-held-back-skills-gap
-  International Labour Organization. Global Employment Trends for Youth: A generation at risk. 2013 http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---dcomm/documents/publication/wcms_212423.pdf
Where we came from with the idea to refinement!!
Motivational aspects of our idea: Achievements are celebrated and rewarded individually and in team!
- Level completion certificates
- Funding of great team ideas
- Internship placement for students still in University
- Employment placement for team members excelling in specific ‘projects’
- Leadership positions in new sub teams
- Television, radio and print media features for outstanding teams
- Achievement belts: Black belt
- Additionally, we will approach companies to provide other forms of prizes that team members can compete for just like the case with Young Enterprise http://www.young-enterprise.org.uk
- Lead Innovator: great team creator, motivator, planner and influencer with diversity in private sector, government, NGO and academic experience
- Inspiration champions: private business entrepreneur demonstrating great leadership; NGO guru to share experience and employer expectations of employees; unemployed graduate to share their struggle for jobs; team building experts to inspire members to learn the art of forming, maintaining and working together with teams; government representative to share policy environment and employment needs for the youth and social entrepreneurs like Rehma Kasule
- Challenge 1—Identify 5-8 committed and enthusiastic young professionals willing to take part in the program
- Challenge 2: identify at least 4 champions to invite to share inspirational experience with the team during training
- Challenge 3: coach the super team through 30 days until each gets to the next level of the team challenge
Stage 2: Inspiring the super team to growing their teams
- Super team consists of a mix of experienced and less experienced graduates with different professional training—human nutrition, food technology, ICT, statistics, sports science, medicine, social science and marketing
- The team is presented with three key challenges to accomplish:
- Working as a team, they conduct market research by interviewing employers and consumers about highly needed yet less supplied services or goods e.g. healthy fruit drink to help people with diabetes. The super team critically and analytically review the data from research and come up with proposal on how to address the gap and create jobs for the team. The team markets the proposal and goes out to look for employees for the project in the University. This leads to the next challenge
- Each member of the super team gets to one department of Kyambogo University which trains students of their professional alliance, negotiates with heads of department for access to students either directly or through student associations. The member of the super team markets the idea to group of students in their second year by presenting to them the model of the project and how they fit within the project. The students are told there are only 3 slots available for members of their class and that they have to address specific sets of challenges as a team to qualify.
- Each member of the super team upon successful completion of the first task of getting a team of course mates in second year of study to work together to accomplish the given task, provides coaching to each student in identifying and developing a viable idea—which in this case is demand driven from the market needs—most likely will focus on nutrition related services or goods. Once each student has an idea, each is guided to share the idea with the rest of their mates and with support from the super team member the students vet all the ideas and refine to one final idea that is perceived most viable according to market demand. 2-3 members of each class whose ideas or contributions are outstanding from the perspective of their mates are identified for inclusion in the final sub team of the super team.
- The last challenge entails all the members of the super team bringing together the final ideas from different departments of the first targeted faculties of Kyambogo University—department of home economics and human nutrition, department of food science, department of information technology, department of art and design, department of sports science and department of agriculture and working with support from the Lead Innovator and the students themselves vet the ideas and come up with the final refined one. The final ideas leads to the next project for the super team and their sub team to find funds for and implement.
- Depending on the needed number of ‘employees’ the super team helps identify 1-2 from each of the members of the sub team identified from different departments of the University. This way students feel the scarcity effect of the project and want to work had as teams so as to get to the team.
The final team celebrates their success by getting into the Innovation Centre.
Stage 3: Getting into the Innovation Centre and sustaining innovation for more employment
- By the time the final round of getting the new project from the university, there is only one team in the Innovation Centre—the super team.
- The super team is joined by the new members who constitute the sub team. The super team is charged with coaching and mentoring the sub team as they are linked to external potential employers—NGOs, private companies, consultancies, government, own enterprises to help with implementation of the existing project created by the super team.
- As the sub team helps the super team, they are coached to refine and operationalize the idea that qualified them into the Innovation Centre
- The sub team are guided to repeat the same steps the super team were taken through by the Lead Innovator. This way sustainable employment, coaching and mentorship of the youth within and outside University is enhanced.