Yesterday [14/07/2018], Ugandan local business incubator, Outbox Hub announced the return of another edition of the Up Accelerate incubator program. The edition is dubbed Up Accelerate WAY which stands for Women, Adolescents and Young people.
The incubation program is being launched in partnership with past partner UNFP as well as Reach A Hand.
"The United Nations Population Fund Uganda in partnership with Outbox, a local business incubator and Reach A Hand - a youth led organisation have launched another edition of its health based social incubator dubbed “Up Accelerate WAY edition," read part of the press release.
Like the previous two editions, Up Accelerate WAY will also focus on Sexual Reproductive Health. The main aim will be "to identify and implement innovative solutions that address challenges in Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and Gender Based Violence (GBV)."
Though, this time round, the program will have a primary focus on women, adolescents and young people especially in Northern Uganda.
"Up Accelerate WAY edition is focused on supporting young people (nationals and refugees) from eight districts of Adjumani, Agago, Amuru, Arua, Kitgum, Lamwo, Moyo, and Yumbe."
The key words here are refugees as well as young people and women. Which perhaps is a reflection of an intersection of the objectives of the funders of the program as well as the area where the need could be most.
At the end of the programme, it is anticipated that women and young people in Northern Uganda will increase their usage of Sexual reproductive Health as well as Gender Based Violence Services.
"The overall outcome of the programme is to enhance utilization of SRHR and GBV
services among the women and young people in northern Uganda, including refugees, in
order to realise their right to live healthy and productive lives."
The organizers are therefore calling upon young people to participate in the incubation program. These should expect to receive training, mentorship as well as seed funding to help them work on their solutions further.
"Young people selected to participate in the social innovation incubator will receive
business training, mentorship from industry experts, technical guidance and seed funding
of up-to UGX 18 Million per team to enable them to realise their dreams."
There haven't been many opportunities for young innovators in Northern Uganda. Even in cases where solutions have been demanded for such communities, it is innovators from Kampala that have always been selected.
A case in point is the Hack for Refugees which was a hackathon by UNCDF, DanChurchAid, The Innovation Village and Mercy Corps to come up with solutions to problems refugees are facing.
This, therefore, is a unique opportunity for any talented and innovative young people in the region.
“Up Accelerate WAY edition provides an avenue for talented young people in the Northern
and West Nile region of Uganda to tap into innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities
that are otherwise limited to major urban cities of Uganda. Outbox is excited to be part of
such bold initiatives,” says Richard Zulu, Lead at Outbox.
A couple of channels have been set up for those interested in applying to the program. This includes online through the website as well as offline at partner centers. The partner centers are upcountry.
Up Accelerate is in its third year of running with this being the second edition and third cycle. A couple of interesting solutions like Teheca have resulted from the program. However, the question for many has always been market viability as well as continuity of the solution.
This is partly because bringing health innovations to market is not easy. But also because there is a mentality of participating in a competition or program for the money. After which, the team is disbanded.
Up Accelerate is mainly supported by UNFPA as its flagship innovations incubator. This in itself is a testament of where funding for innovation in Uganda as well as some parts of Africa comes from. Innovators as well as those that support them - including hubs like Outbox - are largely funded by development and donor agencies.
Note: We had earlier on written that this is the third cycle of Up Accelerate. However, we have been corrected and since changed it.