Amina's digital solution for lessening teen pregnancy
Adolescent pregnancy is not only a health issue but also a human rights and development issue. Pregnancy undermines a girl’s ability to exercise her rights to education, health and autonomy. To help resolve this, twenty-two-year-old Amina Umuhoza is working to tackle unwanted pregnancies among Rwandan girls through her initiative, Dukataze.
Dukataze is a social innovation and online platform with the aim of empowering girls mentally, socially and economically so as to reduce the influences of the main causes of unwanted pregnancies.
“During my childhood, I was a sharp lady,” said Amina. “I used to recite poems at school and to dance in the school’s ceremony. Every year I used to hear that there was a girl who had to drop out of school because she got pregnant. I didn’t really pay close attention to this until it happened to my cousin when she was sixteen years old.”
Dukataze is a Kinyarwanda word to mean “keep going” and this is what Amina wants to see in Rwandan girls. Amina founded the initiative after receiving guidance and support from DOT when she participated in the DOT Rwanda 2018 Impactathon and DOT Youth Unconference.
““I joined DOT Rwanda in May 2018 when they were launching the Impactathon learning journey under the theme, Solutions that work for women. At that time, my project was just an idea and I was even afraid to start the implementation. DOT Rwanda programs empowered me with the confidence to put my ideas into actions.””
Through the DOT’s social innovation journey, Amina learned to avoid some of the mistakes that would have affected the overall operation of her project. She undertook a 3-months social innovation learning journey where DOT Facilitators supported her to design, develop and test her social impact idea prototype.
“DOT Rwanda empowered me on how I can start small. The training focused on challenging me and my peers to consider how we will create value to our targeted customers and community while receiving value in return. This was done through a Business Model Generation simulations where we (innovators) created our Social Innovation Business Models”, Amina mentioned. “They also introduced me to my innovation pitch, the skill that has been helping me as I meet with potential partners”.
Dukataze’s first element is e-counselling, a place where every girl is allowed to ask any kind of question that she has and Dukataze’s mentors are always ready to answer her. Girls are allowed to ask for face- to- face, video and phone counselling.
The second element of Dukataze’s online platform is about sharing stories that are related to reproductive health and self-reliance in young girls. The third is career guidance where girls are able to identify their hidden talents and potentials. Girls and users of the platform are asked to complete a form with information on their strengths, hobbies, skills, passion and contacts. Then, interested girls enroll in online mentorship and finally, Dukataze team connects them with organizations that provide internship opportunities based on their choices.
The fourth element is a window of opportunities where Dukataze team posts the available competitions, summits, scholarship, job opportunities and training so as to make girls aware of opportunities that are available and grab them in the first place.
The last element is online store or e-commerce where Dukataze sells the products that are manufactured by girls in order to increase their sales.
In November 2018, Dukataze launched its first cohort that is comprised of twenty young including twelve girls from Love the Kids Foundation and eight girls who applied for the career guidance program on Dukataze’s website. The launch was also an occasion to brainstorm on key topics that are relevant for young girls who want to prosper.
In 2019, Amina was among the DOT Rwanda Gera Ku Ntego winners. She was also among the selected 2019 Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) sponsored entrepreneurs.
Currently, Amina is working with twenty-eight sellers for the e-commerce platform. She has five companies that have agreed to provide internship opportunities to girls after they finish the career guidance program. She has also four mentors who have agreed to help their fellow youth in this journey and plenty more are coming.
Amina’s next plan is to make Dukataze well known by all Rwandan girls. She will start the process of translating it in other languages as a scalability strategy, so as to target even other girls who are living in Sub Saharan countries.
“I would like to tell my fellow girls that we are warriors together, and a true warrior fights for what is right with a passionate heart. A warrior doesn’t fear no, she walks with confidence,” says Amina. “First, they have to believe in themselves and they have to find the right networks that can help them in achieving their dreams.”