UNICEF in collaboration with the European Union and the non-profit foundation Reach for Change, launched iIMAGINEghana, a Social Innovators Challenge seeking the best ideas that work to improve children’s lives in January, 2015.
UNICEF Ghana, the European Union and Reach for Change through the iIMAGINEghana Challenge have identified and will support Ghana’s next social change makers with the passion and potential to make a strong positive impact on the lives of children. Out of almost 200 applications, 7 social entrepreneurs have been selected to take part in the iIMAGINEghana Reach for Change Incubator for 1 year. Moja is one of the seven selected projects.
According to UNICEF Country Representative, Ms. Susan Ngongi, who chaired the final jury panel, “It wasn’t easy to select the best ideas because there were many great contestants who would have deserved a chance. But we had to identify the ideas that have the potential to become sustainable after one year of support from Reach for Change and partners, and that can be replicated to reach all children”.
Moja: Improving availability of blood to reduce maternal and newborn mortality. Ernest is the founder of an organization called Moja, which means ‘blood’ in the Twi language. In Ghanaian hospitals there is a chronic shortage of blood, which poses a big health risk especially for mothers and their babies during birth. Many Ghanaians have direct experience of urgent requests to donate blood to save the life of a relative or a friend in trouble. For this reason, he believes that many Ghanaians are ready to become blood donors, if given the possibility. Ernest has developed a mobile app through which he will register potential donors, link them to the blood banks closer to them, and in exchange for a small fee, provide them with online medical advice 24/7.
Solutions to society’s most pressing problems are often found by those most affected by them. Many “new” technologies are really combinations and modifications of existing, independent ideas. Innovating means tweaking. In Ghana, as in many other countries, innovative tweakers are already working locally to improve the lives of children. What they need is support to take their solutions to scale.
An incubator to identify and support local innovations
I-Imagine-Ghana Logo LTo address this need, UNICEF Ghana has partnered with the Reach for Change foundation and the European Union to establish the I imagine Ghana innovation incubator.
200 applications were received from all over Ghana, covering the priority areas of education; health & nutrition; child protection; water, hygiene and sanitation; and youth expression and participation.
Seven social entrepreneurs were selected in a multi-stage process to join the incubator programme. They will receive seed funding and tailored business coaching and mentoring to grow their solutions ‘from idea to impact’.
A proven model to nurture lasting solutions
I imagine Ghana is built on the innovation incubator model that has been successfully deployed by Reach for Change in six African countries. Rather than financing the operations of social entrepreneurs, the incubator supports them to develop sustainable business models.
Special value is placed on transferring relevant skills; therefore the social entrepreneurs get connected to personal advisors from corporate partners who provide business expertise and strategic advice. The seed funding will gradually decrease as the entrepreneurs are expected to develop other sustainable revenue sources.
Source: UNICEF, 2015