960 young entrepreneurs raise future aspirations
960 young entrepreneurs raise future aspirations
Ability to financially take care of others, raised aspirations for the future and improved health, are some significant results of the Get Up Speak Out Flexi-project in Uganda. 960 young people were trained to become community health entrepreneurs. As such they deliver SRHR and HIV information and services in their communities including access to Sayana Press, an injectable contraceptive piloted in this project. Naroesha Jagessar, responsible for the Flexi-project at Aidsfonds, shares with us successes and lessons learned.
During the 1,5 years project:
- 960 young people were trained on SRHR/HIV integration and to become community health entrepreneurs
- 125,000 SRHR and health educational sessions were held with the videos on their tablets.
Since the videos are often watched by multiple people at the same time and the entrepreneurs have also given educational sessions without the videos, they managed to reach hundreds of thousands of their community members during the project.
- 30,050 DMPA-SC injectable contraceptives; 4,610 cycles of the contraceptive pills; 1,1 million condoms were provided by the entrepreneurs
- Their average monthly income increased with 22% ($5.22 to $6.70). This increased even further to 39% ($7.28) in 2020
The community health entrepreneurs feel their health has improved because of the multiple trainings on health during the project and better access to health products. They reported an increased use of HIV testing and counseling and condom use among themselves as well as in their communities. Furthermore access to contraceptives by young girls increased, especially with the availability of injectable contraceptives DMPA-SC through the project.
Increased income enabled young entrepreneurs to diversify their income generation activities, to increase their savings and to take care of others.
Improved status and dignity
Young entrepreneurs reported improved self-esteem and relations as a result of the increased status and respect. They were able to raise their aspirations for the future. Young people living with HIV felt empowered by having their needs listened to and met.
Commitments at local and national level
The social accountability activities resulted in commitments for the revision of policies that restrict participation of young people on decision making bodies; engagement of young people during budgeting processes at all levels; budget to support health facilities that lack youth corners and materials; more fund allocation to reproductive health under the health budget.
Increased income, self-esteem, status and respect makes it more likely for young people to be seen as role models and mentors to their peers. They are able to demand that their rights are recognised and met. They also have more perspective in their lives which is very inspiring.
The turnover among young entrepreneurs was higher than among the adults. Young people often leave their village to go study or because they get married – the latter applies especially to women. It is important to factor this in. For instance, we adjusted the selection criteria to engage more young people that are committed to be involved for a longer time, to ensure continuity.
Secondly, we noted that men were often more easily able to pay the commitment fee that is required to become a community health entrepreneur. To address this inequity, we enabled women to pay the fee in phases. Through this gender-transformative approach, we managed to increase women’s economic participation.
Aidsfonds coordinated the project and collaborated with a social enterprise partner: Healthy Entrepreneurs. The last-mile model requires mainly an initial investment to recruit and train the community health entrepreneurs. As soon as they start selling their products and order new ones, the profits made by the social enterprise are used to keep the warehouse and coordinating team running, buy new products and deliver them to the entrepreneurs. As such, the initial investment does not only pay off during the time of the project, but keeps making impact afterwards. The young entrepreneurs continue to provide their communities with health information and products while making an income, even now that the project has ended.
About Get Up Speak Out and Flexi project
GUSO Flexi implemented an innovative community service delivery model in four districts in Uganda. Young people are trained as community health entrepreneurs. As such they are not only earning an income, but they are also able to bring integrated SRHR and HIV services and education closer to their communities.
Get Up Speak Out (GUSO) for Youth Rights aims to improve the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people in 7 countries. Aidsfonds focuses its activities in Kenya, Uganda and Malawi and works specifically with self-organisations of (young) people living with HIV.
Watch the photo story of Asina, a peer educator who got trained as community health entrepreneur.
Read the interview with Evelyn Nambozo, coordinator of GUSO Flexi project in Uganda
For more info on the business model, visit the website of Healthy Entrepreneurs