Impact Stories & Blogs
Our team share their insights and perspectives on the impact our program is having on youth in East and Central Africa.
Cynthia Abito, Uganda - Cohort 34
I am Cynthia Abito, Pocket Education’s CEO and Co-Founder. I have a BA in Physical Planning. I am a 2021 Tony Elumelu Foundation Disruptor Entrepreneur. I also serve as a Mentee Advisory Committee of Global Give Back Circle as a member of the founding cohort of MasterCard Foundation Mentees. In 2016, I founded Global Pathways for Success Uganda, an NGO that provides community development. I have previously worked as a Consultant with Geo-Mic, Lira Municipal Council, House and Building Planning Analyst, and with Bright Future Initiative as the Treasurer and Field Operator.
In Uganda, there is a mismatch between the skills Ugandans have and the skills needed by employers to be competitive at international levels. Vocational training provides a path for Ugandans to get the skills needed but time constraints, access, cost, quality, and practice can make it impossible for Ugandans to receive the skills needed for the 21st Century.
Pocket Education is a mobile PaaS that helps educators, instructors, and administrators create flipped classrooms, where students spend time learning the tasks, concept, and idea digitally allowing for class time to be spent doing hands-on activities that build 21st Century skills.
We developed this idea based on educational research on the flipped classroom within Africa. The educational research determined that students were more engaged, motivated, and increased learning scores in flipped classroom environments. Further, instructor educators preferred this method of instructional delivery. We strive to see that Pocket Education is a company about the people and communities within Uganda; therefore, focus on creating products and services that build value for our customers, which is the 49 million current residents of Uganda through mobile education.
Before joining YALI RLC EA I was concentrating more on Global Pathways to Success Uganda an organization that I founded in 2016 which helps underserved and less privileged communities in Uganda. I didn’t have a lot of experience in social enterprise, and I did not leverage on the possibilities that come with networking and collaboration and how to effectively structure the organization.
The outbreak of coronavirus is not only a public health emergency causing large-scale loss of life and human suffering; it also poses a major threat to the global economy. The virus has halted production in affected countries, hitting supply chains across the world, and resulted in steep drop in consumption together with a collapse in confidence. The virus is already significantly affecting economic activity at local, regional, and global levels. Internationally, health systems in many of the affected countries are overwhelmed by the exponential growth in COVID19 cases. Hundreds of jobs, particularly in travel, tourism, and events, have been lost. The job loss multiplier effect is large and increasing as supply chains come to a halt and people stay home. The pandemic has changed how everyone works globally. The ability to use mobile digital business and consumer technologies is critical for East Africa and Uganda. My take home form the YALI RLC EA sessions to be precise, this is Africa, Design thinking and the Change maker instilled a lot of changes in my way of work, leveraging on the power of collaboration, networking and good communication, has not only led to an improved change in the day to day actives of my organization but has also led to the birth of the first remote-based company in Uganda. It gives me courage and hope that the future for Africa is bright. We were also highlighted by the Innovation Village when the pandemic took place as the first Remote based company in Uganda. https://www.facebook.com/InnovationVillageKampala/videos/801655963858746 ).
And right now me and my team are working on making a class called “The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur” based on the technology we use to be a remote-based company and I also intend to expand the knowledge have gained to the communities I work with.
I got to know about YALI RLC EA program through YALI Network, The networks and lasting friendships I created from all the East African countries, Design Thinking also stood out for me, the fact that you had to let the communities or business own the projects and products you build. I can’t forget the power of collaboration which has opened does for me, I managed to meet my business partner and we’re working on a product that will help millions of Ugandans, and the entire African Continent as I mentioned earlier on.
For the last four years, GPSU has treated over 1000 people with 60% children and 40% adults. These population have also been supported with essential medicines, trained VHTs case management, integrated the abandoned victims into communities and their families, and looking forward to supporting victims to engage in income generating activities. GPSU put efforts to transform the community knowledge, attitude and practices to positive hygienic and sanitation behaviours/practices that will contribute to jigger eradication and consequently contributing to improved general health status and sustainable community development. Additionally, we recognize the importance of community engagement to win the battle on jigger menace and use the existing knowledge and community structures for positive behaviour change in jigger prevention and control. A continuous multi-sectorial approach and active community involvement and participation is also necessary to identify and address underlying causes to jigger infestation among the affected households in the area. GPSU is actively engaging community leaders, VHT’s to help cub the infestation. We move in communities educating and treating the communities and it’s in the same spirit that Global Pathways to Success Uganda is inviting the support of the public, government and private sectors and well-wishers to support in the fight against jiggers in Busoga region and Uganda at large. Working on the jigger’s project made me search for ways of getting likeminded individuals to work with. That’s when I met my partner she had worked on mobile education, and the possibility of a collaboration was done, the commitment was to provide health education and treatment to curb the parasite of jiggers.
The original thought was to create a feature phone communication that used SMS and MMS to change the stigma and behaviour that would improve the conditions of Ugandan villagers. Research had started, including looking at SMS and MMS aggregators to purchase group text messaging. However, by March 2020 the world was changed by covid19, and it became clear that the door was opening to new possibilities. To cut the story short have been able to transition from starting Pocket Education –Uganda , an educational technology start-up. Being the ED and founder of Global Pathways to Success- Uganda and the training and skills I gained from YALI East Africa gave me the skills to move into a new and exciting direction and growth by expanding into new markets and being able to service more youth ages 17-35.
We intend to launch MVP 2021 3rd Qtr. This will have over 80% of Beta Users saying they will use the platform for their classrooms or to deliver instruction for Product Market Fit (PMF). We are also planning to have a Radio and Podcasting Show-”The Future of Work”-- start 2021 4 Qtr. Company Created content for distribution on our platform reaching 1 million users or 2% of Ugandans. In 2022, 6000 users will reach breakeven point.
The hallmark of my YALI RLC EA experience is networking. I have worked with Caroline Kamau who happened to be our facilitator during the training, she came and trained volunteers at my organization, and helped me restructure the organization’s mission, values, and vision, learnt a lot from her and we’ve connected and became good friends. The other network is Tom Mwiraria who is a writer of courage, and Journalist, he helped me cover the stories in the project we’re working on, a project called the jiggers free Busoga, the stories he wrote helped me in getting support for the community and show impact in my community.
YALI RLC EA, is a life time experience that opens ones doors to new possibilities, the wealth of networks, and funding opportunities that comes with it not forgetting the trainings that will introduce you to a new learning experience opening your mind with new strategies to grow your business and projects. if you have a chance to apply please don’t hesitate, you’ll be glad to have attended.