The Amua Accelerator Demo Day
On Thursday, 10th of August 2017, The Amua accelerator demo day marked the climax of the Amua Accelerator project, a partnership between UNFPA, UK Aid and Sahara Sparks Events Limited.
Amua accelerator was a six-month mentorship driven acceleration project supporting young entrepreneurs with seed funding, training and skills development. The project is geared to generate innovative solutions to sexual and reproductive health related challenges.
To set the context of the event, Mr. Davide Piga explained how UNFPA viewed the project, informing that the accelerator program encouraged startups to “design with the user”, in planning, development, implementation and assessment so as to come up with the right product or service for the intended user. He further went on and mentioned various UNFPA Sustainable Development Goals highlighted by the Amua project which are the fourth goal (quality education), eighth goal (decent work and economic growth) and seventeenth goal (partnerships for the goals), all these stressing on Youth Education, Supporting entrepreneurship and encouraging partnerships (among government, private sector and civil society) respectively.
The UNFPA has achieved decent results through acceleration programs similar to Amua, with 2,700 young people supported through bootcamps and over $160,000 disbursed through seed funds for prototyping innovative solutions. It now has startups operating in African countries such as Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda.
Also speaking on the fireside chat during the event was co-founder and CEO of Sahara Sparks, Mr. Jumanne Mtambalike. Paraphrasing, he said,“We are taking very large projects at very reasonable cost with very large impact, and all that in an atmosphere so energetic, fun and interesting ” This point was restated by Felista Mbwana from UNFPA, pointing out that the Amua Accelerator project was a great project with clearly visible results, and also cost-friendly.
The guest of honor, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the United Republic of Tanzania, His Excellency Alvaro Rodriguez had a few to express- “Several barriers contribute to the complex situation that adolescents and young people are facing in Tanzania. This includes a lack of appropriate and comprehensive health and reproductive education, information and services for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, and pregnancy related issues, which means many adolescents and youth still do not know how to nor do they possess the means to prevent unwanted pregnancies and protect themselves from sickness.” He additionally encouraged Tanzanians to put in place the right policies and strategies to enable the country’s age structure to turn into an opportunity to reap what is called the demographic dividend, explaining statistically that Tanzania has 63% of the population under the age of 24, with 15% below 15 years of age and 19% between 15 and 24 years.
Six teams pitched on the event: Harakati za Lucy, M-Bima, Maisha Package, Msichana App, Mkwawa Youth Arts Space, and E-shangazi.
Harakati Za Lucy
Team “Harakati Za Lucy”, represented by Guamaka on the pitch engaged in animation to inspire boys and men involvement in sexual and reproductive health issues. This would tackle the African community mentality that SRH issues are not topics to talk about openly. Advantageously, this mode of delivery would be interesting and raise to much more audience, or as Guamaka termed it to be - “edutainment”.
Hebron and team utilized USSD technology to an application providing health insurance to low income earners, while at the same time providing sexual and reproductive health related information.
Imagine having a modern-day electronic aunt with whom you can discuss SRH issues in your pocket. Dora and Justine representing team E-Shangazi found out that youth barely speak about SRH issues with their parents and so produced an online knowledge sharing personal assistant for SRH issues, thus the name E-Shangazi. Enabled by SRH experts and ICT experts, it would bring comprehensive, right-age appropriate SRH information to share.
What if you could have accessories that a typical female youth would need, all of in one life-transforming package,and at a give-away price as well?!! Gilda Slayo, team lead for Team Maisha Package explained their product to be a value addition to the generic sanitary pad products, with extra add-ons such as SRH info sheet, underpants, urine ph test, male condoms, and others.
Mkwawa Arts Space
“Everyone loves art, art is lovable.” These are keywords from speakers representing Mkwawa Arts Space from Mbeya as they presented their solution to the problem of women not being socio-economically empowered to access user-friendly SRH information and services. They put to use art to produce drama, live music, paintings and drawings to face the issue.
Maria and teammates showcased Msichana App, a web application serving as a platform to discuss different topics concerning sexual and reproductive health.
The startups which won on the demo day each got a sizeable seed fund of $6000. Four teams won: Maisha Package, Harakati Za Lucy, E- Shangazi, and Mkwawa Arts Space. These teams however will not be left alone yet, as they would be further be trained, supervised and monitored by the Amua accelerator project team.
by Mathew M. Rugaimukamu