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Emergency Sex Education via Mobile App and e-Platform

Providing emergency sex education and sexual reproductive health through an android app, WhatsApp, toll free hotline and SMS service.

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Tell us about your vision for this project: Share one sentence about the impact you would like to see from this project in five years

We aim by 2022 to have 90% of youth in Uganda being aware about, and having access to our free and high quality emergency sex education, anytime and anywhere; while having also scaled to reach over three million youth in English speaking African countries.

Who will implement this idea? Or what’s your strategy to implement in the next 6-18 months?

- Ask Without Shame will respond to the incoming messages and calls with its medical and psychologically trained Sexual Reproductive Health experts. - Automation will allow for effective response to fact based, often reoccurring question which do not require human interaction while the call agents will have time to focus on the cases that need deep human interaction, empathy and support (such as rape victims). - New team members will be recruited, with the mentioned automation in place, Ask Without Shame will be able to respond to 3,000,000 questions annually with less than 100 staff members and will be able to give full support

How has your idea changed based on feedback?

We realized the need to connect with the Ministry of Health in Uganda. Since the government is going the direction of abstinence-only approach and as of October 2016 has banned sex education from schools, alignment with the government strategies are crucial. We have been able in December to present to the MoH and have been selected as one of the top ideas on how technologies can improve SRH. We are engaging further with the Ministry now.

Using a human-centered design approach, you may uncover insights that lead to small or foundational changes to your organization’s existing strategy or processes in order to unlock the potential of your idea. How would your organization go about making such changes?

Ask Without Shame works through a distributed authority approach and run on the self-organization tool "Holacracy". Buy in is not needed but roles have full autonomy to make decisions according to the purpose of the roe, which is defined by a team. This means that the individuals involved in this project will have the authority to make changes or iterations during the implementation, if they belief it is valuable or needed. This allows for continuous innovation and empowerment of all members.

How long have you been working on the project?


What year was your organization or group started?


How many full time staff are needed to implement your idea?


What most attracted you to the UNFPA Young People's Sexual and Reproductive Health Challenge?

openideo encourages an iterative approach where the users are at the center and can have the power to substantially improve the idea. We want to find what works best and what needs to be adapted to make Ask Without Shame work even more effectively. We are ready to scale but it is a big task which needs a lot of care. Traditional funding is often tied to the specific outcomes which had been predefined in the proposal and cannot (or hardly) be changed, even if new learning along the way come.

Share the URL for your Business Model Canvas Here

Opportunity Areas – Select those that apply

  • mHealth
  • Last Mile Sexual and Reproductive Health Commodities

What specific problem(s) are you trying to address? (300 character limit)

Speaking about sex in East Africa is considered a taboo and many youths have no or little access to the information they need. Especially girls, who have been abused or raped, have often no place to get support from because they fear the stigmatization from the family and society.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the problem(s) you are working to address? (500 character limit)

How could we get the Ministry of Health to partner in promoting our free service through their channels to let every Ugandan youth know about the possibility to consult Ask Without Shame? How could we use the anonymous data about the general challenges the youth are facing we collected to improve public health and create a sustainable income for our social business?

Who are your end users? (1000 character limit)

Ask Without Shame is offering sex education at the fingertips of every youth from the age of 12 to 35 years without judgment or shame. These include girls and boys alike and students and out of school youth. The focus lies on the promoting the free service in remote areas and for especially girls. Overall, the users are typically from disadvantaged backgrounds, especially lacking basic needs. Some are for example school children forced to have sex in return for school fees; others are young women facing domestic violence. Since the Ugandan tradition does not allow unmarried girls to have sex, but they nevertheless have it, they are left with no one to talk to in their families if emergencies or problems arise. With our current cloud based call center in place, we are able to respond to over 60 users per hour if we would expand the team.

Explain your idea. (500 character limit)

Ask Without Shame provides emergency sex education via mobile through an android app, WhatsApp, calls and SMS. Medical experts and counselors are available 24/7 to assist users with the right information regarding sexuality. Ask Without Shame launched in in Dec. 2015 and has responded to over 70,000 questions from 35,000 users. Ask Without Shame has been able to debunk myths, stop probable HIV transmissions and unwanted pregnancies.

What is your value proposition? (500 character limit)

Millions of youth are denied access to sexual information as e.g. Uganda follows a strict abstinence-only sex education approach and as of October 2016 has banned sex education from schools. Knowledge is power. The information what a youth could do in emergency situations can have big impact. But without access to information and support, self-blame, rumors and myths are often spread. Ask Without Shame ensures access to SRH information without fear and through means the youth are used to.

What's different about your idea compared to current solutions? (500 character limit)

The founder grew up in an orphanage home in Uganda. Her parents passed away when she was young because of AIDS. Her sister developed severe skin rashes, the village believed she was possesed by demons and was taken to a witch doctor and died. She was born with HIV and could have been saved if treated by medical doctors. Ruth Nabembezi developed a frustration that people in Uganda do not have information in regards to sexuality. She is the main drive behind Ask Without Shame.

What are the key reasons why end users would turn to your organization over another?

  • Convenience / Accessibility: Making products accessible

What would success look like for your end users? (500 character limit)

A young girl calls in after having been raped by what she believed was her boyfriend. She fears to tell her family or friend in fear of being rejected for having a boyfriend in the first place and for not being a virgin anymore. She does not know what to do and is devastated. The team is listening to her in empathy and able to give her specific support steps gives her the information she needs to take her own decisions overcoming the challenges she faces. Success are 100.000s of informed users.

How would you measure the impact your idea has on your end user(s) ? How will you measure the success of your program? (500 character limit)

Since the most important feature is to ensure the users stay anonymous, direct accountability mechanisms and feedback is hard to be obtained. Therefore, the most important indicator which will be tracked for success is the number of questions answered and the issues discussed.

What strategies will/are you testing to acquire end users? (300 character limit)

Our promotion strategy is to put stickers in public mini-busses, which reach the entire country from the bus parks in Kampala. 1000 stickers had been put out initially. We were not able to keep up with the immediate incoming questions and had to stop marketing for a few months.

Key partnerships - Who will you partner with to make your idea work? (500 character limit)

We are partnering with the Social Innovation Academy (SINA), supporting us in Life-Coaching training for our staff to be able to assist our users overcome challenges in a non-judgemental way. We have also partnered with WoMena in regards to menstrual topics. An ideal partnership would be with the Ugandan Ministry of Health, promoting our service nationwide through their channels. We have started engaging with the ministry but are not yet having them backing us and promoting us.

What is your organization’s name? (150 character limit)

Ask Without Shame

Tell us more about you: (750 character limit)

We are a non-profit Limited by Guarantee in Uganda. We have an office located in Kampala and a team of 7 full time staff, 10 volunteers and about 100 peer educators, who we train in different communities to act as points of reference to promote accurate sexual health information and debunk myths, while referring the youth to our free service. Some of our staff and volunteers have an intrinsic motivation to tackle the taboo and stigmas in the areas of sexuality in Uganda. The main drive behind Ask Without Shame has lost her entire family due to HIV, other members are HIV positive or actively experienced negative effects about lacking access to sexual information and reproductive health.

Organizational Characteristics

  • Women-led organization
  • Youth-led organization

Where will your idea be implemented? (200 character limit)

Uganda is the main target. However, through our mobile app we are also getting questions from e.g. Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt. We are planning to scale to Kenya and Rwanda in the near future.

What do you need to get started? (500 character limit)

We have started already and currently need further resources to be able to get from 70,000 users to 700,000 users. We need to grow the team, bring more languages on board, promote using stickers and branded condom wrappers and possibly start automating pure factual questions in order to give real emergencies requiring deep human interaction more time.

What is the current scale of your proposed innovation?

  • National - expansive reach within one country

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

Expertise in Sector

  • I've worked in a sector related to my idea for more than a year.

Organization Location (200 character limit)

Kampala, Uganda

What is your organizational status?

  • We are a registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

What is the maturity of your innovation?

  • Roll-out/Ready to Scale: I have completed a pilot and am ready or in the process of expanding.



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