OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Innovation Centre: Fresh Ideas for Success by Youth for Youth

Innovation Centre is a University affiliated Nutrition Leadership, Mentorship and Business Incubation project targeting to reach at least 196 University students of age 14-28 years in Uganda during its 18 months pilot. The centre will address employment and leadership gaps in the youth by providing the youth in and out of University with employment, business skills, leadership training, coaching, mentoring, peer and employer networking opportunities. The centre will also build the capacity of the youth in social marketing and social change for improved community health and development. Whereas we desire to roll out the project to high schools and vocational training institutions, we will start with the Universities for the prototype.

Photo of An Old Friend
67 26

Written by

Updated and detailed description of the Innovation Centre

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[1]. Families are psychologically and socially tormented for educating children who fail to get jobs after University. International Labour Organization[2] 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:
  • The government started a youth livelihood program where youth can access credit:
  • 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:
  • 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:
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
  • Trips
  • 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 
Stage I: Setting the stage for success
  • 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
The  challenges for the Lead Innovator and inspiration team:
  • 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:
  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

What are the next steps for implementing this idea?

To get real user experience of the idea, the team conducted interviews and discussions with eight young graduates from Kyambogo University, nine currently enrolled students in Kyambogo University , two University lecturers and two prospective employers about the idea. Evidence of the discussions with the young professionals and students is available in the linked videos above. Our key findings indicate the idea is very much welcome and highly needed by students and young graduates as they see the centre as valuable in addressing employment, team work, networking, leadership , mentorship and entrepreneurship gaps in the country. At least the students would leave University with their heads up knowing they can carry on with their innovations or easily use experience acquired to get employment. It was desirable that the centre does not discriminate against students and gives them equal opportunities to participate. It was also desirable that time constraints of the students are taken into consideration so that they can balance between the centre activities and academics. Discussions with potential employers were fruitful too. They welcome the idea but would want to see that the centre is up first in order to channel their support further. Related we had discussions with two lecturers about the idea. They are looking forward to supporting the centre in any way possible. The lecturers confirm how overwhelmed they are to solve all the skill needs for the students and would work with the centre to provide any linkages to the students. They would want to have Memorandum of Understanding signed with their University soon. Now we are confident the idea is viable and has market. Our next steps include piloting the idea in Kyambogo University in Kampala Uganda for the first eighteen months. We have chosen Kyambogo University because it is a credible University as far as producing graduates with the vocational skills needed in the job market. Kyambogo University was an vocational institute 10 years ago. We have also chosen it because it pioneered the Human Nutrition and Dietetics degree in Uganda, and we are using Human nutrition as entry point for this idea. We have started discussion with the University administration to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to pilot the idea in Kyambogo University. We expect this to get completed by September 30, 2014. Once the MoU is signed, our team will reach out to student associations, think tanks and lecturers to organize sensitization meetings with the students about the idea and how they can engage in it. We expect to accomplish this by October 15, 2014. Our team has also started discussing with potential employers on how they can support the centre by entering into partnership through memorandum of understanding (MoU). The team expects to have signed some MoU with potential employers by October 30, 2014. Related we are currently seeking partnerships which can support our idea so that we can operationalize it. We hope through this challenge (OpenIDEO) we can leverage partnerships with interest in youth leadership, human nutrition, entrepreneurship, non communicable diseases, food industry, information technology and computer science, mobile health, social mobilization and social change, documentaries and digitial media, incubator centres, food security and agriculture to work with us. We are hopeful by October 30, 2014 we will have some partnerships in place to work with us. To help us create teams of mentors and coaches from the current local team of the young professionals I am working with to reach out to University students, we will conduct training of the team to acquire basic skills needed for coaching and mentorship. Acquisition of these skills requires classroom based training and active continuous coaching of those being coached. We will identify senior coaches to help with training of the current team. We have entered into discussions with CEDA International, an entrepreneurship agency in Kampala to support in the training of our team. Thanks to Wekesa and Rehmah for offering to help our team with mentorship and training already. IWe are hoping to have training for the mentors by October 15, 2014. We hope to design all the documentation and training tools for the idea. We are determined to make this a global program but are starting small, learn from the pilot, refine it and scale up. Hence, documentation, standardization and sharing are key tools for making it a success. Our current team has talent in curriculum development and documentation. We hope we can have some of these accomplished by October 15, 2014. We are targeting to design terms of reference for the students engagement in the centre and call for applications by October 15, 2014. We estimate the process of applications, shortlisting and recruitment of the students will be done by October 30, 2014. Our operations will start by November 2014. Finally, we hope to have acquired a home (centre) for the idea at the start of October 1, 2014. Our team is looking for houses within the locality of Kyambogo and Ntinda for rent for the centre. We want a place which is convenient for the students, employers, partners and other community members to reach.

Briefly describe a user scenario which illustrates the specific need that your idea is trying to solve.

Young students say of human nutrition in first year to the final year of study in University have little hope of making it in the world after campus. After all many of them ended up studying degree courses they really did not want as the first choice. Without much exposure to what happens in the real world of work, in addition to limited training in the skilled highly needed in the current job market and without much practical involvement, these students most often resolve to the attitude of come what may. The young students who finally graduate leave campus with their heads down not knowing exactly who they will make it as professionals in the job market. They are shunned away by potential employers because they lack the needed experience, attitudes and skills. They keep wondering where on earth the experience can be bought but do not get the right answers! Those who see several money making opportunities lack the resources such as skilled personnel, capital and necessary connections to seize the opportunities. Others who have some start up capital lack other resources and cannot produce quality goods or services to meet the market demand. So these graduates are frustrated, their parents are frustrated, the country is frustrated and the government is losing revenue due to failure of over 150,000 graduates to get jobs each year. Employers are equally disappointed in the Universities because they are producing 'half baked cakes' who are not trusted to produce quality goods or services.

Complete a User Experience Map. This will help you visualize how a potential end user will interact with your idea. Once you have completed it, upload it using the Upload File button at the end of this form. PDF files preferred.

  • Completed

Who does this idea benefit, who are the main players and what's in it for them?

The idea benefits teams of youth who are in Universities, graduates who have completed University or college but are unemployed, other youth without education certificates but are talented, NGOs, private companies, government, Universities and development partners. The youth in University will get chance for mentorship to create jobs and get employment in the Innovative Centre while the graduates will receive leadership and social entrepreneurship training, get employed in the Centre and extend their skills to younger youth who are still in University and college. The private sector will get the chance to have these dedicated and talented youth offer them solutions to improving their performance by developing new products, receiving health care services and by saving money often spent on management staff. NGOs will receive services from our dedicated team and they would not have to hustle managing and spending lots of money on the team as the centre will manage them directly. Development partners will provide funding to the Innovation centre to help them implement more sustainable programs as opposed to what is currently funded. Our team uses private sector approach to implementation and will overcome the barriers of giving out all aid freely to people and government. The Universities and colleges will benefit from free coaching and mentorship our team will provide to their students. The centre will also take on students for internship and in the process will create opportunities for employment for the youth. The team will also volunteer to train students using visiting lecturer approach. The government is stuck with many youth who have no jobs and are becoming a menace. Our team will help address some of these challenges by creating employment opportunities while empowering the youth with leadership and social entrepreneurship skills. I am partnering with Leigh Cullen and Rehma Kasule to pilot their models with my centre and I am sure these partnerships will cement the models. Using this model, everyone benefits and everyone helps.

How is your idea specifically increasing access to employment opportunities and pathways for young people?

The centre will start recruiting Kyambogo University students and young professionals and fitting them into Innovation Centre. Each of the new recruits will work with mentors to and undergo standard training curriculum (see the detailed description of the idea section for more information). Specific workshops will be held with the recruits to enhance their soft skills, networking with peers, employers and companies. Through this the recruits will generate new income generating idea that together with their team mates they can pursue until funding for the idea is obtained. Each team will work on specific idea, which I want to call a project. The project will have manager or team leader, someone who is a bit more experienced to head it. With this in mind, if we started with 5 team members working on a project for instance on Product development for food industries, as the project is ongoing the team will start recruiting new team members to create branches of the team. The new members could come in as second year University interns who will work with the team to idea gaps in the food industry and come up with ideas to address the gaps. Through proposal writing approach, the new idea creates an additional team. Repeating the sample approach, new teams or branches will be generated creating more sustainable employment for teams of youth. By the time the recruit completes their scheduled stay with the centre, they will have achieved complementary skills to help their reach their life dreams (see the user profile for details). Please see the detailed description of the idea for more information on the workshops, internship placement,etc.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Through my lecturing, NGO and internship networks, I invited 20 individuals: from statisticians (1), nutritionists (12), PhD student (1), social workers(2), food scientists (1), rural economists (1), medical doctor (1) and graphics designers (1) to brain storm about how we can leverage our resources in private practice and come up with a centre to help grow entrepreneurship, coaching and mentorship opportunities for ourselves and our brothers and sisters still in University or those who have just completed and are jobless. Our online team also spent several days brainstorming and refining the idea based on their experience working with the youth and incubation centres. So findings presented are well triangulated. I conducted discussions and interviews with cross section of young professionals,m students, lecturers and employers to get their feelings and thoughts about the idea in the last three weeks. As evidenced in the videos I have shared with the community here, the youth who have graduated from the University see this as very viable and needed to get started soonest. The same observations were made when we held discussions with students in Kyambogo University. The students loved the idea and wanted to see it started. Overall our experiments confirm there is demand for the idea within and outside University. The lecturers we talked to also liked the idea and are looking forward to entering into MoU with the centre to start implementing it. Finally, the employers we interacted with felt the idea would reduce on the worries they have about getting less skilled graduates from the University. Others expressed willingness to provide internships avenues for the students through the centre.

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to receive from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

Coaching and mentorship; identification of potential funders and guidance on proposal writing processes; transformation of the centre into social enterprise and creating more partnerships with complementary ideas.

The idea emerged from:

  • A group brainstorm

How do you envision your idea being implemented?

  • Keen to prototype it, find partners and pursue implementation
View more

Team (10)

Lina's profile
Lina Padilla

Role added on team:

"Thank you Lina for being our sponsor. We are in high gear to refine the idea."

Simon's profile
Leigh's profile
Leigh Cullen

Role added on team:

"Hi Leigh, Would you be interested in joining me and we polish this idea further? Thanks Alex"

Dave's profile
Dave Zinsman

Role added on team:

"Thank you Dave for joining the team. Thank you for the support in moving the idea forward."

wekesa's profile
wekesa zab

Role added on team:

"Wekesa I felt I should add you to the team. You have been contributing to the idea already. Thank you in helping me operationalize this."

Karolle's profile
Karolle Rabarison

Role added on team:

"Hi Karolle, welcome to our joint team with Leigh. Glad to have you on board!"

Gavin's profile
Rehmah's profile
Alain's profile
Bettina's profile
Bettina Fliegel

Role added on team:

"Thanks for believing in our idea. Welcome on board Bettina."

Attachments (1)

Innovative Centre Experience write up.pdf

Draft User experience story


Join the conversation:

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

This is such a comprehensive program!
What are the behaviors you are hoping to change - in relation to the WASH initiative you mention? What are the health issues related to WASH? When you say the students will go into 10 households are these low income resource poor communities? Are at home interventions common or is this a model you are trying to develop? Is there a benefit to doing the work in the home - are the students looking for environmental issues that are effecting health?
Sounds like the students will be doing a lot of community health work. That will certainly be a vehicle to build skills - hard and soft!
Good luck developing this amazing project!

Photo of An Old Friend

Hello Bettina,
With human nutrition as the entry point, there is clear evidence of the contribution of poor WASH practices and behaviour to malnutrition. Currently uptake of WASH behaviours is very low. We would like to address behaviours like hand washing, disposal of faecal matter, treatment of diarrhoea in children, keeping animals away from children, etc.

From our interaction with the students we learnt the dream of improving community development by applying what they learn from school. We want to keep their dreams alive by taking them closer to communities--both the poor and rich communities to provide key public health and agriculture services. For instance in urban areas we see them helping in sharing information on wellness and lifestyle management, helping in setting up urban home gardens for fresh vegetables while in rural areas they would help in WASH, nutrition, food security, agriculture, etc.

We will work with communities and other agencies to take these services closer to the people so that students gain more expertise at social mobilization and social change.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

[As posted on Pop Up bus - good to have here for reference as well...]

What are your aims regarding the nutritional services? What community are you hoping to serve?

Check out this idea from the Women's Safety Challenge. It is a social entrepreneurial - microfranchise project. Perhaps it can ignite some ideas into your team of nutritionists. It is a very cool program providing healthy street food to citizens there and employment for women vendors.

Check out these nutrition initiatives in New York City's vulnerable communities as well.

Photo of An Old Friend

Thank you Bettina. These ideas will create jobs for many nutritionists here in Uganda and around the globe with our model!

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Happy to be the messenger - sharing some great ideas!
Excited to hear the thoughts from youth in the innovation center as you share the ideas there!

Resources From NYC Dept. of Health's Eating Healthy Campaign.

Photo of An Old Friend

Thanks Bettina for the link. I downloaded the CalCutter app for determining calories. I am wondering if the developers of such software would be interested in collaborating with our centre?

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

It looks like the developers work within the NYC Dept. of Health itself.

I found this interesting website which is for a competition to develop apps to benefit the city (NYC).

This proposal is in the field of nutrition - Eat Healthy New York City -
There are two mentors at the bottom of the page. The bio for the mentor on the right - "Keren manages the NYC Health Department's social media channels and is actively involved in the agency's mobile efforts, which include apps and texting services." Perhaps she is someone to reach out to to find out who the developers of CalCutter are? Perhaps look for her on LinkedIn. I can try to "look around" online in the coming days as well.

This "Big Apps" model looks really cool. Do they have something like this in Kampala? Maybe you can hold a hackathon to develop some ideas?

Photo of An Old Friend

Thanks Bettina. No, there are no Big Apps for nutrition and health in Kampala currently. It would be interesting to see if such initiatives could get incorporated into the centre.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

A thought...
You might find ideas and resources, research posts, people - within OpenIDEO itself. You can search the site using key words (in the space on the top right of this page) - ex. nutrition. You might find ideas, and/or people to reach out to for collaboration here - folk that may have participated in other challenges. To contact people you can post a message on their profile page.

Photo of An Old Friend

I have already started doing just that...thanks

View all comments