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AskMe: A mobile app to address young people's access to SRH products and services in Uganda.

Provide and empower young people with equal access to accurate, quality SRH products and services to help them make better life choices.

Photo of Joseph Mulabbi

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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

By 2022, we aim to reach over 3 million adolescents and youth (boys, girls and other gendered groups) in Uganda with our mobile app services, empowering and impacting 5 million users in schools, universities, rural and urban communities.

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

We are a team of 8 professional full-time staffs: 2 Software engineers 2 Marketers 4 Health workers We intend to recruit 100 youth volunteers across the country and 50 university students' ambassadors who will be our representatives in those universities. Form one regional youth groups in each of the 6 Ugandan region. Make partnership with over 50 health facilities in each community that will offer free/affordable SRH products and services to our users. Steps: -Virtual app design and development. -Build Partnerships+sustainable goals -Launch and market -Recruit volunteers, ambassadors, form groups -Implement, M&E -Assessment

How has your idea changed based on feedback?

In addition to an online app, we will create an offline app that will require a user downloading once and for-al. Users will be able to navigate, search, access, and read diverse information on different SRH topics without the need for internet access. we will also emphasize the use of toll free hotline and SMS services that will not produce any costs to the users. Secondly, We will include a clinic/service finder to enable users to search for more information and services from nearby hospitals.

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?

We listen to users through feedback reports, interviews, focus groups, workshops and work with them to tailor youth-friendly SRH services to the local context, based on a careful situational analysis of the health and needs of young people. We also conduct extensive research in our target settings to ensure that our services and resources are designed for the user by the user. Team decisions are then made collectively with final sign-off from the Project Director who developed the idea.

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?

The sine qua non of it all is that: UNFPA is fueled and inspired to empower others using human-centered approach to solve real life problems hence, any individual/organization participating becomes more innovative, creative, thorough, observant and proactive in order to hatch a human-centered design geared towards solving real life problems with an objective of impacting life.

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The Situation/Problem: There are more young people today, and HIV/AIDS has affected more than half of the world's population that is under the age of 25 years. Uganda's young population is 52% of the population and this is the age that is most affected by HIV/AIDs. The high risk sexually active women account for 16% of the youth, while high risk sexually active men account for 36%. Related to these behavioral challenges are unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and cross-generational sex that are grossly exploitative, especially for the girl child. There is a high demand by young people to have full access to Sexual and Reproductive Health services and information to protect them. 

Additionally, social norms and taboos related to gender, sexuality, and SRH issues create a culture of silence for young people in asking, obtaining information, discussing, and expressing their worries about SRH issues. This is particularly the case when it comes to communication with adults in the family or communities.
Many adolescents have limited agency and mobility, few possibilities to express themselves without judgment, and know few persons and places to seek information and support. The lack of a confidential and judgment-free environment is a barrier to young people to feel supported in expressing their concerns related to their lives and SRH issues and obtaining SRH information, education, counseling, STis/HIV testing, contraceptive services, learn skills among other products and services.

Our Service/Solution:

 AskMe aims to use a mobile application to address young people's access to SRH products and services to ensure that adolescents and young people have access to adequate and accurate information and friendly health services, youth counseling, access to family planning and HIV/AIDS services, contraceptive services, prevention of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS and many more.

By doing this we aspire to Provide, promote and empower adolescents and young people 14-24 years of age with anonymous equal access to sexual and reproductive health education, products and services anytime and anywhere via downloadable online and offline android apps, social media platforms, website, toll-free calls and SMS. We have medical experts, partnering health facilities and counselors who are readily available 24/7 to assist users with the right information, products, and services regarding reproductive health and sexuality.
Additionally, the app has a service finder/clinic finder that enables users to search for the nearest health facility in their neighborhood for more information and services regarding sexual and reproductive health.

The User/Impact: A 15 year old adolescent girl accesses our toll-free emergency call line after having been raped by who she had believed to be her boyfriend. She is so terrified and fears to tell her family or even her 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 AskMe counselor is listening to her in empathy and able to give her specific support steps such as going to the next pharmacy to get morning after pills, helping her to evaluate if she wants to see a doctor to possibly turn down an HIV infection and gives her the facts about legal steps she could take. AskMe does not tell her what to do, but gives and empowers her with the accurate and relevant information she needs to take her own decisions to overcome the challenges she is facing.

User Feedback: Using a purposive sampling method of data collection, we engaged 100 university adolescent students in an open discussion to gain valuable feedback on our idea and how SRH products and services could be extended to them but also incorporated feedback from OpenIDEO experts and the communities where we work. In this exercise we found out that access to smartphones is very high in schools and universities, but most SRH services consume a lot of data to access and sometimes users find it difficult to locate a health facility near them that could offer them a free/affordable service. That is why in addition to an online app, we will create an offline app that will require a user downloading it once and for all. Users will be able to navigate, search, access, and read diverse information on different SRH topics without the need for internet access. we will also emphasize the use of toll free hotline and SMS services that will not produce any costs to the users and they can even use it borrowing someone else's phone. We will expand the team answering questions with members speaking in the local languages in addition to English.
Secondly, We will include a clinic/service finder where users can be referred to/search for more information and/or services from the local health facilities near to them.

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)

52% of young people in Uganda have limited mobility to express their concerns related to their lives and SRH issues without being judged in addition to them knowing a few persons and places to seek for more SRH education, information, counseling, support and other SRH products and services.

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

How do young people currently access sexual and reproductive health services? How do they want to access it? What/who do they trust to share this information? What medium(s) do they prefer to use/avoid? What would encourage them to seek this information out? How do we support them to be come autonomous decision makers? How do we build the trust of their families/partners to support/use ?

Who are your end users? (1000 character limit)

Our main beneficiaries are adolescents aged 14-19 and youth aged 20-24 in schools, universities, rural or urban areas who find it difficult accessing quality SRH education, contraceptive services, referral services, information and other products and services majority of which stem from access restriction, stigmatization, financial barriers, limited supplies and ignorance. Most times those in schools are subjected to dropping out, infected with STIs and/or HIV/AIDS, unwanted pregnancies and its related risks of abortions and maternal death. AskMe is seeking to leverage the ubiquity of mobile and web technologies to engage and empower over 5 million adolescent boys, girls and other gendered groups in Uganda with equal access to accurate SRH information, education and high-quality, affordable SRH products and services as well as anonymity and autonomy in SR decision making through an online and offline apps as a motherboard for SRH education, products and services.

Explain your idea. (500 character limit)

AskMe is a SRH online and offline platform that links young people with health workers, counselors as well as anonymous access to accurate, quality SRH products and services including referrals, education, information, counseling, contraceptives, HIV/STIs testing and services, and platform for them to network and socialize and connect with SRH experts. The app has a directory of partner health centers where users get linked to nearest health facilities in their communities for more SRH services

What is your value proposition? (500 character limit)

-Providing equal access to accurate and high-quality SRH products and services as well as autonomy in SR decision making. -Clinic/Service Finder which allows users to find their nearest health clinic or support service. Users can click to make an appointment with a health worker, and/or browse for information on a range of key SRH topics. -Providing a platform for adolescents to identify and articulate the SRH information and service they need to lead safe, dignified and empowered lives.

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

We Put users at the center to lead and determine type of SRHS they need to make better life choices, but also use it to share and empower other young people. This user-led approach shifts the paradigm on the role of users from being just participants to real agents of peer-to-peer change. The app also has a service finder map, which allows users to find their nearest sexual health clinic or support service for users to access free/affordable SRH services from our partner health facilities.

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

  • Performance: Improving performance

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

-Enabling users in emergence situations and hard-to-reach areas reach out to health care providers to get key SRH counseling, thereby improving their knowledge to ensure safe sex, good relationships,STIs/HIV prevention, family planning, contraceptives etc -Clinic/service finder that helps users find their nearest sexual health clinic or support service. Users can click to make an appointment with a health worker, and/or browse for information on a range of key SRH topics listed on the app.

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)

Tracking the number of subscribers, app downloads, questions and answers engagements, referrals given and attended to by partner health centers, reported sex abuse crimes, new partners. Convenience and effectiveness of the app to serve it's users. Secondly, When young people are able to replicate project services in their own communities by training their peers on SRH matters. We shall develop monitoring tools and user feedback quarterly reports for impact measurement and services refinements.

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

Engaging our social media platforms, website and those of our partners, Peer-to-peer and door-to-door programs. Presentations and exhibitions at both local and international schools,universities, hospitals and direct marketing. Engage Radio and TV ads, newspapers, billboards,posters, and fliers.

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

Our partners will include local organizations (UHMG) and intentional organizations (UNFP), African Development Foundation (USADF), government agencies and ministries including health, education, security, media companies, legal persons, health practitioners Community youth groups will also play an ideal role assisting us to reach adolescent girls and young women in their communities.

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

Youth Contact Association

Tell us more about you: (750 character limit)

Joseph Mulabbi is an entrepreneur and a specialist in design and marketing from Uganda working with 7 professional members to bring this idea to reality. My team is comprised of young innovative individuals with years of experience working in the areas of SRH, entrepreneurship, marketing, community development, software engineering and development etc which puts us on a solid ground to implement this project.

Organizational Characteristics

  • Youth-led organization
  • Locally/community-led organization

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

The idea will be implemented in Ugandan schools, universities, rural and urban communities but shall have the potential of replication to other East African countries at scale.

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

We have the technical knowledge however, we need financial support to facilitate the development of the App and Website, launch and a robust marketing campaign and any other technology that will drive this project including salary payments for our staffs.

What is the current scale of your proposed innovation?

  • It is still in planning phase and does not exist yet.

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)


What is your organizational status?

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

What is the maturity of your innovation?

  • Early Stage Innovation: I am exploring my innovation, refining, researching, and gathering inspiration.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Valerie Lancaster


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