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Unpacking the Impact: How SINA’s Focus on Purpose Drives Success

Etienne Salborn, the founder of Social Innovation Academy (SINA), took center stage at the prestigious World Agility Forum last year. His captivating keynote speech, titled “Purpose Over Positions,” shed light on the profound impact of agility in transforming lives. By sharing SINA’s success story, Etienne demonstrated how agility can revolutionise education and social entrepreneurship not only in Uganda but also on a global scale.

“Purpose over Positions – a case study of SINA (Social Innovation Academy)”, presented by Etienne Salborn at the 9th World Agility Forum in Lisbon as the opening speech of the event.

The recent release of SINA’s IMPACT Report further solidifies the organisation’s commitment to driving positive change through social innovation. This report serves as a testament to the remarkable progress made in tackling critical societal issues. Through SINA’s unique social enterprise model, young individuals are empowered to create lasting change within their communities, fostering a ripple effect of transformation and progress.

Let’s unpack the SINA framework model:

1. From Vulnerable Backgrounds to Strong Foundations: The Role of Life-Coaching and Mentorship

At the core of SINA’s impact model is a comprehensive program that guides scholars through various stages of personal and entrepreneurial development. This journey starts with life-coaching and mentorship, which are essential in helping these young entrepreneurs transition from vulnerable backgrounds to strong foundations.

During the early stages of the program, SINA scholars receive personalized guidance from experienced mentors who understand their unique challenges and aspirations. These mentors serve as role models and provide emotional support, helping the scholars build resilience and develop essential life skills. By working closely with their mentors, they gain confidence in their abilities and learn how to overcome obstacles.

The mentorship provided by SINA goes beyond just offering advice and guidance. It focuses on fostering a deep sense of purpose and motivation in the scholars. Mentors help them identify their passions, set meaningful goals, and envision a future where they can make a positive impact on society through entrepreneurship.

2. Nurturing Innovation and Problem-Solving Mindsets: The Power of Design Thinking

SINA’s impact model goes beyond providing life-coaching and mentorship to marginalised youth. It also nurtures innovation and problem-solving mindsets through the power of Design Thinking. This approach is integrated into SINA’s entrepreneurship training, empowering participants to develop creative solutions that address real needs in their communities.


Scholars are introduced to the human-centered design approach which emphasises empathy, understanding the needs of target customers and unlocking the power in developing human-centered solutions. This process involves immersing themselves in the lives of their customers, observing their challenges, and identifying opportunities for innovation. By understanding their audiences’ pain points, scholars can develop solutions that truly meet their needs.

The programs entrepreneurship training also incorporates the concept of iterative problem-solving. Scholars learn how to prototype and test their ideas, gathering feedback from potential users along the way. This iterative process allows them to refine their solutions based on real-world insights and market demand. By embracing failure as an opportunity for growth, SINA scholars learn resilience and develop a mindset conducive to entrepreneurship.

3. From Idea to Execution: Implementing the Lean Startup Methodology for Business Success

SINA entrepreneurs validate their business ideas through iterative experimentation and close interaction with potential users. This process includes the concept of customer discovery, where entrepreneurs engage directly with their target market to understand their needs and refine their offerings accordingly.

By embracing the lean startup approach, SINA scholars are able to refine their business concepts in real time based on market feedback, ensuring that their ventures are not only sustainable but also responsive to the needs of their communities. This iterative approach fosters a culture of adaptability and innovation among young entrepreneurs, equipping them with valuable skills for long-term success.

4. Embracing Holacracy: Fostering a Culture of Autonomy and Collective Decision-Making at SINA

Holacracy is a system that empowers everyone to take on leadership roles and contribute to the organisation’s growth. This approach promotes independence and group decision-making, ensuring that every member has a say in shaping SINA’s future.

By embracing Holacracy, SINA creates an environment where innovation can thrive and different viewpoints are appreciated. This unique structure not only aligns with SINA’s mission of empowerment, but also allows the organization to adapt quickly to the changing needs of its beneficiaries.

5. Inspiring Stories of SINA Entrepreneurs Making a Difference

Case Study: Joan Nalubega – Combating Malaria with Innovation

Joan Nalubega (Anzisha Fellow 2018), a driven and passionate entrepreneur, hails from Uganda, where the prevalence of malaria poses a significant health challenge. Determined to make a difference, Joan embarked on a journey to create a solution that would not only address the issue of mosquito-borne diseases but also empower her community.

“I wanted to find a way to protect people from malaria that was affordable and sustainable.” – Joan Nalubega

With unwavering commitment, Joan established her social enterprise venture focused on producing mosquito repellent soap. This innovative product not only serves as a regular cleansing agent but also provides protection against disease-carrying mosquitoes. By integrating the fight against malaria into a daily hygiene routine, Joan’s venture has effectively combined social impact with practicality, making it accessible and beneficial to the community at large.

“I believe that everyone has the power to create change in their own communities.” – Joan Nalubega

Impact Created:

  1. Health Benefits: The use of mosquito repellent soap helps reduce the risk of malaria infection among individuals.
  2. Employment Opportunities: Joan’s venture has created job opportunities, particularly for women within her community.
  3. Education Access: A portion of the profits generated from sales is reinvested into providing scholarships for underprivileged students.

Joan Nalubega’s remarkable initiative exemplifies the transformative power of youth-driven entrepreneurship in tackling pressing societal challenges. Her story serves as an inspiration and testament to the impactful endeavours fostered by SINA’s support and guidance.

Global Perspective on Sustainable Development:

It is worth noting that Joan’s efforts align with the goals outlined in the 2019 Global Sustainable Development Report, which emphasises the significance of innovation and entrepreneurship in achieving sustainable development targets. This further underscores the relevance and potential impact of initiatives like Joan’s, not only within local communities but also on a global scale.

In Conclusion: Fostering a Thriving Ecosystem for Youth Entrepreneurship in Africa

SINA is committed to creating lasting change through more than just entrepreneurship training. They have embraced a social business model, where making money and making a difference are seen as equally important goals. This means that SINA believes businesses should have a purpose beyond profit and should actively work towards solving social problems and improving communities.

The organisation’s use of a social business model and their implementation of Holacracy demonstrate their comprehensive approach to supporting sustainable ventures that prioritise both financial success and positive social impact. These key strategies greatly contribute to SINA’s ability to empower marginalised youth as they become catalysts for change in their own communities.

By creating a supportive environment where young entrepreneurs can thrive, SINA is contributing to the overall growth and development of the entrepreneurial landscape on the continent. SINA’s impact goes beyond empowering individual young entrepreneurs; it extends to fostering a thriving ecosystem for youth entrepreneurship in Africa.

Lynn Brown
Lynn Brown
Lynn is a content marketer that focuses on brand storytelling through digital platforms. Skilled in a background of web development, search engine optimization and content production, Lynn is excited to utilize over 10 years’ experience in digital marketing to help grow the ecosystems that support Africa’s very young entrepreneurs to ensure their success.

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