If you are in your early twenties, looking for a job, what would you do? Now add that 83% of young people in your country are unemployed, how would that change? The youth in Uganda must ask these questions daily. Due to rapid population growth, the fastest the world has ever seen, each year unemployment rises. An entrepreneurial is not an option; always taught to follow authority, without question. Creating a business, however, requires critical and bold problem-solving.
This is where the Social Innovation Academy (SINA) comes into play – empowering youth to find their purpose and make a living. Inspired to use their strengths and think outside the box in a self-organized learning environment outside Kampala, marginalized youth are in charge of themselves. SINA’s encouragement results in creative solutions such as houses built out of plastic bottles, flooring made from plastic bags and egg shells, or a human waste powered biogas-latrine. The empowerment and the community at SINA enables marginalized youth to stop looking and start creating jobs using their life experiences as a valuable asset, rather than the subject of shame. Current ideas of SINA scholars are the world’s first opportunity hub for, and by, refugees or a motorcycle ambulance for inaccessible rural areas.
Losing her whole family to AIDS, an HIV-positive former orphan, Ruth Nabembezi created “Ask Without Shame,” a mobile platform delivering emergency sex education anonymously and for free. Instead of regarding herself as a victim, a personal tragedy made her stronger. In the first year, she answered over 50,000 questions. With SINA’s guidance, Ruth transformed into a strong leader, inspiring others with her story. This transformation led Ruth to receive the Queen’s Young Leaders Award by Her Majesty the Queen of England, Elizabeth II.
17 to 27-year-olds from various deprived backgrounds (refugees, orphans, street children and former child soldiers) have been labeled useless by society after dropping out of school. SINA gives them a place where their potential is unleashed to develop social enterprises; inspiring, motivating and giving them confidence previously lost. They don’t leave with a certificate, they leave with a self-made job.