The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in collaboration with Nailab – a startup incubator based in Kenya- launched an innovation Accelerator (iAccelerator) yesterday June 13, 2016. It will focus on promoting youth sexual reproductive health and rights as well as help to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, and every childbirth is safe.
This program is part of a regional initiative of UNFPA East and Southern Africa Regional Office funded by UKAID. In Kenya, the initiative was a joint project developed with the support of the National Council for Population and Development (NCPD) and the Ministry of Health to ensure alignment with national priorities and further contribute to the realization of Vision 2030.
The NCPD Director General, Dr. Josephine Kibaru- Mbae stated that: “The future of Kenya is in the young people who constitute a third of our population. Empowerment of the youth through innovative interventions in education and training, gainful employment, provision of health information and services and enabling environment especially good governance systems and infrastructural investments will greatly contribute in helping Kenya achieve a Demographic Dividend and accelerate attainment of Vision 2030 aspirations.”
Statistics provided by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS, 2014) and the National AIDS Control Council (NACC, 2014), indicate that more than 29,000 young people in Kenya between the ages of 15-24 get infected with HIV every year. In every five teenage girls, one has begun motherhood, with approximately 13,000 of them dropping out of school each year to raise their kids. Moreover , nearly half of all abortion-related complications occur among girls below 25 years.
During the launch, Sam Gichuru; the Founder of Nailab stated :“We envisage that the solutions to the vast challenges faced by young people in matters of sexuality and sexual reproductive health lie in their hands and in technology”.
“Data has been the primary anchor on which this acceleration program has been established. The power of customer-centered solutions lies in the provision of data to innovators and consumers alike. Our passion is to not only catalyze the development of commercially viable businesses but more so businesses heavily invested in improving our societies’ well-being. This is indeed a labour of love for Nailab”, Gichuru added.
This accelerator project is set to run from August through to November 2016. It will precede by a campaign I.AM. They plan to mobilize young people between the ages of 18-35 who feel that they have innovative ideas to help the cause.
Applications opened yesterday and will close on the 26th of July. After this process, 10 innovators will be picked out to pitch their ideas on the 4th of August to a group of judges from diverse backgrounds. Four social young entrepreneurs from the 10 will be picked to join the accelerator program and receive business modeling, training, and mentorship from various industry leads.
The winners will also get links to investors as well as a seed funding of 1 Million Kenyan Shillings. When the program ends on the 30th of November the innovators would then be allowed to showcase their solutions and the growth they have attained to an expert level.