The ‘Providing Opportunities for Women in Entrepreneurship and Reproductive Health’ project, or quite simply POWER for short, is a brand new joint-initiative developed by DSW and our long-term partner in Uganda, Action for Health Uganda (A4HU). Starting this month and running until Feb. 2023, this pilot will provide twelve young-women business leaders training, coaching, capacity development, and mentoring towards developing their own start-ups in the field of family planning and SRHR.
To help get this accelerator off the ground, we will be working with Capital Solutions (CSL) – a Ugandan-based social enterprise company which works towards building capacity of local entrepreneurs. With their support, we are also aiming to implement a mentorship program and an alumni network. This will ensure that successful graduates have access to ongoing information and services to help expand their businesses. Additionally, the women entrepreneurs will be linked to local business networks, academic institutions, and the public sector in Uganda, as well as international networks.
The accelerator will culminate with a Demo Day in February, 2023, to be hosted at A4HU’s Training Centre. At this time, all candidates will get an opportunity to pitch their start-ups to a wide audience of influencers to attract public interest, new investors and partners. The demo day will also feature the presentation of award certificates to each innovator, with the winning entry receiving a monetary prize to accelerate their start-up to market!
As this accelerator project will be the first of its kind for DSW and A4HU, we decided to start it off as a pilot. However, should it work out as well as we imagine, we are planning to expand the concept to create a more permanent installation in Kampala – probably in the form of an incubator for the full development of women-led FP/SRHR business start-ups. There is also potential for replication of this concept in the other countries where DSW is based, such as in Ethiopia given our expansive training facilities to be found there.
But that is all yet to come! Right now, we have just launched our public ‘call for applicants’ which will be focused first and foremost on reaching young women entrepreneurs via our vast network of youth clubs and network across Uganda. We are looking for entrepreneurs who are passionate and driven towards expanding FP services and product choice to reduce unmet need. There is an incredible amount of untapped potential in Uganda today, especially with regards to women entrepreneurs, we hope that this project will be one of the key drivers in transforming the landscape for SRHR.
Watch this space!
This will be the first of many blog posts I will create to track the journey of this exciting nine-month initiative. I will write about the challenges experienced, the highs (and lows), and of course the successes achieved I hope you will stay with me on this journey!
In case you would like further information, or would like to reach out to chat about potential partnership, send an email to: Shane O’Halloran at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to hear from you. Hope to talk to you soon!