Nairobi-based incubator Nailab has partnered the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to launch the iAccelerator, focused on promoting youth sexual reproductive health and rights.
The programme rolled out in collaboration with Nailab is part of a regional initiative of the UNFPA East and Southern Africa Regional Office funded by UKAID, and has been developed with the support of Kenya’s National Council for Population and Development (NCPD) and the Ministry of Health.
The iAccelerator launched under the I.AM initiative aims to encourage young people to discuss, learn and understand their sexuality and sexual reproductive health by engaging with the right sources of information in a safe and un-stigmatised environment.
It will run from August through to November, preceded by the campaign I.AM, through which young people will be called upon to own and engage in the conversation, and apply with solutions that address sexuality and sexual reproductive health issues.
Four social enterprises lead by young entrepreneurs will be picked to join the accelerator programme and go through two months of training, mentoring and assistance, as well as two months of go-to-market support. Seed funding KES1 million (US$9,900) will be availed to startups based on the achievement of pre-agreed business milestones.
“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,” said NCPD director general Dr Josephine Kibaru-Mbae.
Dr Julitta Onabanjo, regional director for UNFPA East and Southern Africa, said within the context of a rapidly evolving development and aid environment, it had become increasingly clear that UNFPA could no longer do business as usual.
“As the East and Southern Africa region strives to deliver excellence for the women, girls and young people we serve, innovation and out-of-the-box thinking will change the way we deliver programmes for years to come,” she said.
“The Innovation Accelerator provides an opportunity for the youth of our region to generate creative, market-based and context appropriate solutions to development challenges, while creating income-generating opportunities for young people in the process.”
Nailab founder Sam Gichuru said the solutions to the 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 programme has been established,” he said.
“The power of customer-centered solutions lies in the provision of data to innovators and consumers alike. Our passion is to not only catalyse the development of commercially viable businesses but more so businesses heavily invested in improving our society’s well-being. This is indeed a labour of love for Nailab.”