Photo courtesy of @iaminiiativeke
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This will be the first of its kind from the United Nations Population Fund which prides its self in being “the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted and every childbirth is safe and every person’s potential is fulfilled”. They have partnered with Kenya’s Nailab to spear head the creation and facilitation of the innovation accelerator program. The program, which is a joint project between the government, non-government agencies and the private sector hopes to produce success from this first round in order to inform future cycles of the program.

Dr Josephine Kibaru, the Director General of National Council for Population Development stated that around 20,000 of girls are seeking abortion every year which causes a high number of maternal mortality, a situation that sounds bleak but she insisted on the hope of a brighter future.

 “We are in a demographic transition with maternal health decreasing. We should be optimistic”

There is a window, a safe window of around 29 years according to her that we can optimize in order to fully eradicate maternal health and the best way to do that is through information. More specifically, the correct information on reproduction and sexual health and she believes the youth of the country have the skills and ideas to create those channels and all they need is the opportunity, one that is being provided through this partnership between UNFPA and Nailab.

So how does the program work?

It is a 4 month program that starts off with the launch that happened today to create awareness that leads to the second phase which is submission of applications to join the program. They plan to mobilize young entrepreneurs between the ages of 18-35 who feel that they have innovative ideas to help the cause. Application opens today and will close on the 26th of July. After applications are submitted, there will be a review process where 10 innovators will be picked out to pitch their ideas on 4th August to a group of judges from diverse backgrounds.

The winning 4 innovators will move on into the program and receive business modelling , coaching training and mentorship from various industry leads including Dr Amit Thakker, Kenya Healthcare Federation Chairman, Sam Gichuru founder and Director of Nailab Accelerator, Philip Ogola, founder of DigiWave among many others as they help the innovators figure out go to market strategies of their products.

During the program that runs from August all through to November, the winners will also get links to investors and strategic partners as well as seed funding of 1 Million Kenyan Shillings provided of course they meet the set milestones that were made at the beginning of the program.

The program cumulates to a final demo day on the 30th of November where the innovators can now showcase their solution and the growth they have attained to an expert panel. Key lessons learnt and documeted reports will be collected throughout this first cycle in order to inspire and inform the future upcoming cycles.

So they are looking out for you who are bold, innovative, big dreamers and those who wish to be game changers in the society. If you are interested, apply now and get the chance to create something that will change and alter the life of the young people in a good way.

I can’t help but draw similarities between this program and the Afya Labs also recently launched by Seven Seas Technologies. They are both created from a number of partnerships that invest in entrepreneurs to create innovative products in specific fields by giving them the resources and capital to do so. Is this the new way to ensure startup success? Is this a new trend? I am definitely curious

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