Each year, Accountability Lab welcomes a new cohort of accountability entrepreneurs (or accountrapreneurs) to our global network of young passionate civic activists with great ideas for accountability and open government. In Uganda and Kenya, Accountability Lab supported selected accountapreneurs to refine their ideas for accountability and build sustainable ideas for strengthening their communities’ pandemic response and recovery with the support of the Ford Foundation.  

After a year-long training process, these accountapreneurs came together in an open space on January 20, 2022, to share their ideas during a live pitching session.  

First to pitch his idea was Martin Odongo from Uganda. Through his incubator project, the Budget Lab, Martin is working on influencing the government of Uganda to prioritize and promote the idea of utilizing local resources as a way to minimize the national financing debt. 

“The real needs of the people and budget processes are usually not inclusive as such corruption remains endemic. This has created distrust among communities and government entities. We have decided to re-engage citizens through community advocacy awareness and stakeholder engagement to create local knowledge and solutions to implement equitable budgeting.”

Martin is working closely with municipal leaders and engaging them in the work he is doing. They are now engaging other stakeholders within the district to make sure budget processing is understood. 

Another accountapreneur whose work is centered on ensuring community involvement in government processes is Lydia Matte. She is the Country Director for SEMA, an organization that aims to increase the transparency and accountability of public service institutions by providing citizens with various platforms to give feedback to improve public service delivery. SEMA was born after Lydia had an encounter with a patient at a local healthcare centre where the patient did not receive prior communication regarding her visit to the facility which led her to leave without revealing the treatment she needs.

She achieves this through the implementation of a feedback device that sits at the exit of public service centers where citizens can rate the service they received on a five grand scale – ranging from very bad to very good.

“Citizens can give their feedback on a five grand scale, ranging from very bad to very good. They can also speak to trained data collectors who have one-on-one interviews with them that visit the police stations. If citizens are not comfortable giving their feedback to these trained data collectors, they can use a USSD code and a toll-free line to give feedback given to the public institutions with the aim of improving service delivery,” Lydia explains. 

SEMA feedback tools include an IoT feedback device, a USSD code, a toll-free line, WhatsApp surveys and in-person surveys.

 Next to pitch, her idea was Ruth Atim. She is the founder of the Gender Tech Initiative Uganda, an organization fighting against online gender-based violence. As a journalist and digital security trainer, Ruth has taken it upon herself to ensure that women are protected online. “The issue of online harassment has seen many women leave the newsroom,” she says. “This is because their personal information gets leaked online.” 

Ruth plans to use online awareness campaigns to make media houses understand the need to create safe spaces for female journalists.  

Next to present was Jalim Mohamed Ibrahim, co-founder and Director for the Centre for Research and Governance, a youth-led organization that focuses on research, governance, child protection, peace and security, and life skills. His project is centered on budget participation and training. Jalim is calling for partners with creative ideas and those wishing to join their learning network to support their initiative.  

Human rights defender and activist Nicholas Songora Odoll from Kenya was also proud to share his project, the Anika Community Hub.  It’s an online audio-visual media space to share untold stories within the community, such as narratives on social accountability issues and emerging leaders. Nicholas plans to expand the hub to other parts of the country to engage more young people to realize their talents through art and social participation. 

Elizabeth Masika meanwhile is the founder of “Knowing my Rights”. In her community of Kwale county, young people have limited access to information and services on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Her initiative, “Knowing my Rights”, focuses on developing a community scorecard on SRHR. 

“There is an opportunity to re-engage young people on issues that affect them by using SRHR as an entry point. They can use community scorecards to deepen social accountability. In doing so, young people are also capacitated to engage in other governance issues affecting them.” 

Elizabeth plans to pilot her idea in Matuga and Kinango by hosting community development workshops and involving service providers to engage young people on the scorecard. 

To close off the eventful pitching event, Accountability Lab Program Manager Jaco Roets commented that all issues on the table were connected to civic participation. “What is exciting to me is that accontapreneurs think about problems and connect those problems to a larger solution. I want to give a big shout out for your incredible work and the work that we keep on doing together,” he said.