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Urukundo Initiative, a Rwandan youth-led health organization emerged as one of the winners of the first-ever Joint Innovation Challenge of UNFPA, a competition that awards innovative solutions that advance the empowerment of women and girls worldwide. 

Urukundo initiative is the producer of Urukundo Board Game & Information Package, a Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) board game that aims to provide friendly, safe, trustful, and evidence-based Sexual and Reproductive health information to young people in Rwanda. 

The Urukundo initiative was announced as one of ten winners of the innovation challenge on 3rd August 2022, by Dr. Natalia Kanem, UNFPA’s Executive Director in New York. 

“Creative thinking and innovative solutions are key to accelerating progress for women and girls around the world,” says Dr. Natalia Kanem, adding “Through the Equalizer, UNFPA is pleased to support a dynamic group of entrepreneurs and their game-changing ideas. Thanks to funding from the Governments of Luxembourg, Finland, and Denmark, life-changing projects like these are possible.”

This year’s Innovative Challenge received 300 submissions from 61 countries and five different regions globally. After 20 finalists pitched to an expert panel, the 10 winners signed nine-month contracts with UNFPA and each received an equity-free investment of USD 60,000.

It was a very competitive process, we worked hard to be among 40 final pitched projects. We are glad to be among the winners and we are looking forward to learning with global innovation challenges during the next phase of 9 months.” Says Christella IGIRANEZA in charge of Public Relations - Urukundo Initiative. 

Equalizer Accelerator Fund is financed by UNFPA, and implemented in cooperation with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the International Trade Centre (ITC). 

The funding will allow these organizations to move from the pilot stage to scale. UNFPA and its partners will further support the social enterprises with targeted mentorship, training opportunities, interactive workshops, and unique access to the UN network.

“In this 9-month-long project, we plan to invest more in raising awareness for our educational game, doing a lot of advertisement and learning both on our financial sales and marketing strategies to make sure that our urukundo life skills game is health sustaining both in Rwanda, in the region and in Africa.” says Mick NDAYISHIMIYE, CEO of Urukundo Initiative before adding: “We commend UNFPA Rwanda for its continuous support throughout the journey.” 

Urukundo board game avails adolescent sexual reproductive health information in a friendly, interactive, and evidence-based way. It can be played by up to 8 people at once at home/school/youth network for a period of more than 3 months. The package includes an Adolescents and Youth Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (ASRH) booklet, 40 question cards & 40 answer cards, URUKUNDO Board, 2 dice & 40 diamond beads, Game guideline & facilitator guide. 

Launched in 2021, UNFPA’s Equalizer Accelerator Fund invests in projects that will expand access to contraception and maternal health services for women and girls and end gender-based violence. The fund provides equity-free investments in social enterprises that are led or co-led by women and can show evidence of the impact they will have, enabling them to test and scale up their projects.