Through engaging courses taught on low-bandwidth phones, the MindLeaps Virtual Academy will build the business skills, digital literacy, and self-esteem of 40 marginalized young women (ages 18 - 25) in refugee settlements and some of the most impoverished neighborhoods of Kampala, Uganda. In addition, MindLeaps Uganda will seed fund their business plans, putting them on the path towards financial independence.
Even if some girls in Uganda's most marginalized communities enroll in school, their formal education does not enable them to find a job. The only available jobs often lead to sexual exploitation, further displacement, and impoverishment. They need ways to support themselves at the local level, e.g. in their refugee settlement, but they often don't physically have access to business or entrepreneurship training, or, if information is available online, it is not available on low-bandwidth phones.
A digital safe space, the MindLeaps Virtual Academy organizes vulnerable young women in Uganda into WhatsApp groups for engaging, targeted business courses via real-time voice message lectures with local and international experts. MindLeaps Uganda provides phones and data-packages, conducts examinations online, and offers seed grants to all promising business plans created by the young women during the training. The second phase includes MindLeaps' flagship dance & data growing skills and SEL.
The MindLeaps Virtual Academy will strengthen 40 young women with sustainable businesses that serve the needs of their communities. In 2020, Virtual Academy student Annet started a successful food business, and Zanni now sells reusable charcoal. Our research indicates that the learning from the Virtual Academy transfers to an average of five people, meaning that 200 people will be indirectly impacted as allies, leading to community understanding and transformation, economically and socially.