Business Accelerators, Social Entrepreneurship, All of it!

The upcoming Demo Day for cycle two of the Up Accelerator business - innovation incubator got me very thoughtful about what a mini-rollercoaster 2017 has been. The buzz or is it talk of Innovation, entrepreneurship and specifically Social entrepreneurship in Kampala's Tech circles. First things first; let's catch you up on the different terms mentioned above.

Up Accelerate is a regional initiative of United National Population Fund (UNFPA) East and Southern Africa, implemented by Outbox and funded by UKAID to explore new and engaging ways of tackling pressing sexual reproductive health challenges through promoting social entrepreneurship among young people.

Stanford Social Innovation Review defines social entrepreneurship as having the following three components: 
(1) identifying a stable but inherently unjust equilibrium that causes the exclusion, marginalization, or suffering of a segment of humanity that lacks the financial means or political clout to achieve any transformative benefit on its own.

(2) identifying an opportunity in this unjust equilibrium, developing a social value proposition, and bringing to bear inspiration, creativity, direct action, courage, and fortitude, thereby challenging the stable state’s hegemony.

(3) forging a new, stable equilibrium that releases trapped potential or alleviates the suffering of the targeted group, and through imitation and the creation of a stable ecosystem around the new equilibrium ensuring a better future for the targeted group and even society at large.

My team of 5 took part in cycle one of the #UpAccelerate initiative starting February to the 30th of May this year. Together with 10 other entrepreneurs, 3 teams, we embarked on an intense product (service) development phase. Each team was awarded $10,000, which to some of our surprise, would go entirely towards the development of our stated products and services within four months; a period within which many people for the first time encountered, learned and efficiently used monitoring and evaluation tools like log frames, work plans, progress trackers, indicator trackers, reported on financials, teams were faced with the reality of understanding their business unit economics and valuation of a company beyond their BIG revenue dreams and models.

I vividly recall the awesome wonder on the faces in the room when industry-respected advertising and brand gurus broke down those seemingly simple principles and practices of branding, marketing even advertising. All that awe soon turned into sweat when the teams were tasked with defining their own 'brands'. Haaaa....

Some of the most valuable lessons and insights from these social entrepreneurship clinics and incubators are not in the theoretical content delivered but in the intangible interactions. I don't remember experiencing so deeply the importance of the right team dynamics to execution of goal/project before the Up Accelerate program. Diversity is so beautiful, but only when you get through the process of celebrating differences. 

One of the most unique aspects of the Up Accelerate program is the perfectly timed and phased practical skilling in the crucial aspects of business, right from company incorporation, project planning and evaluation mechanisms, customer development, branding and marketing, financial planning, reporting and valuation, Intellectual Property, stakeholder engagements, mentoring and coaching, human centered designs, Design thinking and eventually "getting out of the building".  By now, this must sound like a couple of undergraduate program studies but when industry experts deliver these practical learning sessions, you might get it in four months.
Some of the health centers outside Kampala are not fancy, but we can make them work better!
Location: Kolir HC III, Bukedea Districts

Granted four months isn't nearly enough time to fully experience and muster all of the above concepts but when your learning structured in the fierce monthly boot camp style whose value you're unable to ignore, it definitely gives you a start, in the deep end. For me, that's not an experience I'll soon forget or regret. 

As a result of the support received from Up Accelerate (Outbox Hub, UNFPA, UKAID, mentors and partners of the program) my team has been able to deploy the DrugDash solution in twelve health centers and at the district health office in Bukedea district to help them better monitor the drug stock levels using easy web and mobile tools. My team is ready for the next step, to take this all over Uganda and to the world. Because if we can follow the supply and consumption of medicines and health supplies, we can plan better and eliminate drug stock-outs, over stocking and expires of drugs. 

Next week on 5th October, at Imperial Royale Hotel, four other teams of social entrepreneurs will demo the work they've done over the past four months and I can't wait to hear their stories. Most importantly, I can't wait to see which one(s) of these solutions will change the face of healthcare delivery in Uganda, in Africa and the world over. 

Book a slot HERE, and I guarantee you'll learn something. 


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