Located in Mpigi, 35km outside of Kampala surrounded within a beautiful hilly landscape and lush greenery. The Scenery at SINA was breathtaking and serene. We were welcomed and showed around by Allen Nabulime, a current scholar at the academy.
Started in 2014 by Etiene Salbon and Philipp Mäntele (A fellow Kampala Hub Global Shaper), they wanted to solve the ever-increasing number of unemployed youth lacking creative thinking, problem-solving and practical application of knowledge gained from the universal primary and secondary education systems. Etienne who has been living in and out of Mpigi for the past 12 years, previously set up an orphanage in this community with an aim of ensuring most of the orphans had an opportunity to go to school. It was later in these children lives that many of them were finishing but had no opportunities to work, just like many of the youth across Uganda. This was further validation for a need of setting up some sort of social innovation and skilling establishment.
SINA provides open learning spaces that encourage youth to gain knowledge and practical skills through self-controlled empowerment. One word that really stuck with me was *freesponsibility which at Sina is defined as freedom that comes with responsibility. In this context it did make sense why we shouldn’t have been so amazed by our tour guide Allen who mentioned to us that she had only been at the academy for 6 months, She had so much confidence and knowledge in all her fellow 12 scholars projects, describing her journey from a small town in Buddo to the academy which has given her leadership and self-initiative skills mastered through learning by doing and SINA’s self-defined curriculum.
I traveled with Mr. Domien VAN GOOL, founder of “The Leader Academy” based in Belgium and South Africa that is focused on training the leadership development process for teams who are committed to achieving changes in their Human Operating Systems.
We at the Kampala Hub of the Global Shapers Community (an initiative of the World Economic Forum) were privileged to have Domien visit the hub and are looking forward to partnering with him to have this leadership training come to East Africa.
Research has shown that doing business for the sake of doing business is not sustainable in this challenging Subsaharan African environment where we see poverty on the increase along with inequality and non-inclusive government policies.
I believe social enterprises like SINA and for-profit businesses that are built with a mission of solving societal problems through impact and shared profit are going to re-engineer inclusive economies and bring hope to those that have been left out and are at bottom of the pyramid.
It was inspiring seeing the magnitude and empowerment that Phillip and Etienne have built-in Mpigi. I can only be hopeful that more social entrepreneurs take control of their destinies, start initiatives that can be energized and benchmarked on SINA’s story.