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SINA (Social Innovation Academy)

Challenges into Opportunities

SINA empowers marginalized youth without opportunities to become social entrepreneurs through an innovative framework of self-organized and “freesponsible” education. This transformational and purpose-driven approach shifts the youths from passive aid recipients to active drivers of their own futures, leading to a prosperous and regenerative future for themselves and their communities.


Information on this page is provided by the innovator and has not been evaluated by HundrED.

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Target group
April 2023
We envision education which is freesponsible and regenerative, producing changemakers with the ability to turn challenges into opportunities and meaningful employment for the more than 4 billion people who will be living on the African continent by the year 2099.

About the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

After six years of sponsorships for orphans in boarding schools in Uganda, the first generation graduated in 2013 with good grades but drowned in youth unemployment in Uganda. In an open space dialogue, it became clear that a space is needed where young people become job creators instead of job seekers and the first SINA Community was co-created.

What does your innovation look like in practice?

Marginalized youth and refugees are in charge of their own future and actively create solutions to the most pressing social and environmental challenges. A five-step empowerment framework supports the youths' self-development of personal and professional skills to develop solutions and social enterprises. SINA is built on the intrinsic motivation and transformative. Students (called "scholars") take responsibility for themselves; handle community tasks such as accounting, logistics, outreach, and everything needed to run the community; and work with each other through life-coaching and mentorship. Everyone takes up dynamic roles to continuously grow in their abilities. Within this purpose-driven work, decision-making goes beyond hierarchies or consensus, and power is distributed using Holacracy. SINA disrupts an education of pre-defined and already solved problems by allowing its scholars to continuously create and test out real-life solutions to problems without answers.

How has it been spreading?

The SINA Framework has spread to currently nine locations. Five of the SINAs are located in refugee camps. In 2016 a group of refugees founded SINA, joined and nine months later decided to make the replication of SINA their social enterprise. This proved that the SINA Framework is scalable through the beneficiaries themselves. New replications are currently ongoing for Tanzania and Cape Verde and in partnership with two vocational schools in rural Uganda, which see their graduates lost with a certificate but unable to find a job. Alumni establishing a SINA community next to the vocational centre will allow the youth to create their own jobs through social entrepreneurship. The goal in the coming years is to scale SINA to further vocational schools in rural areas.

If I want to try it, what should I do?

A replication is initiated by 3 youths from a local community or vocational school who go through SINA and experience a profound personal transformation and are equipped with all skills, tools and experience necessary for replication to apply the SINA Framework on their own. The new SINA is locally owned and governed by self-organization and is part of the SINA "community of communities".

Implementation steps

Confusion Stage
Intense and structured training three months training about unlearning limiting beliefs, getting rid of the fear of failing, expanding one's comfort zone, discovering oneself and one's personal purpose and setting goals and action steps to achieve the personal goals. Focuses on personal development, self-reflection, building a growth mindset and the ability of a scholar to challenge themselves. Experiential, problem-based, learning by doing in a responsible way.
Emerging Stage
Scholars use Holacracy to self-organize and gain hands-on experience in finance, logistics, and outreach, building their own curriculum through the roles taken. Through Freesponsibility, they understand the impact of their actions. Decision-making goes beyond hierarchy or consensus, with role-holders holding each other accountable. Teams conduct customer research to validate new social enterprise ideas. Scholars stay as long as needed, continuously growing and contributing to the community.
Concentration Stage
Five-day bootcamp for social enterprise ideas and teams to validate assumptions and gain traction. Scholars pitch to judges and can receive prize money for further implementation. Working spaces and mentoring are provided. Those not chosen try again in the next Bootcamp, returning to the Emerging stage to continue growing in skills and abilities until another idea gains traction.
Linking Stage
Suppose an enterprise has generated revenues of at least 150 USD per month for three consecutive months. In that case, it enters the linking stage, where it is supported to formalize, register and be accelerated through intense mentoring to grow the impact and create financial forecasts, pitch decks and a business plan.
Mastery Stage
Scholars have graduated from SINA with their own jobs and social enterprises established instead of a certificate. In the final path, called the Mastery Stage, alumni usually stay in close contact with SINA and often become mentors and coaches of new scholars to pass on the skills and experiences they gained. At this stage, the social enterprise is financially self-sustainable and has substantial positive social and/or environmental impact.

Spread of the innovation

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