Venture Spotlight: URUKUNDO Initiative

The Health Entrepreneurship (HENT) Challenge’s first cohort is getting ready for their upcoming visit to Toronto, where they will continue their implementation phase through activities targeting business development, expanding entrepreneurial networks and facilitating exposure to potential investors.

In the meantime, the HENT Communications team caught up with the ventures from the first HENT Challenge cohort to learn more about the origins of their companies, what they’ve learned to date, and what is coming up next…

URUKUNDO Initiative

While conducting research in the USA in 2017 and reflecting on the state of health knowledge in Sub-Saharan Africa, Mick Ndayishimiye, Frederick Ntabana, Honore Isimbi and Christelle Giraneza noticed that youth in Sub-Saharan Africa (Rwanda inclusive) have huge information gaps around sexual reproductive health and mental health.  

This had led to alarming health challenges among the youth population across the continent. Approximately 21 million teenagers become pregnant each year, with 12 million of these teenagers giving birth in developing regions. Additionally, youth in these regions often struggle with mental health, HIV/AIDS, and sexually transmitted infections.  

In response to these findings, Ndayishimiye, Ntabana, Isimbi and Giraneza launched the URUKUNDO Life Skills Board Game by the URUKUNDO Initiative in mid-2021. This play-based solution is combatting the concerning and destructive problem of mental health and sexual health information gaps among Rwandan youth. Their aim is to deliver reproductive and mental health education by captivating youth through play-based learning. The team has since taken their product to schools, refugee camps and various youth networks, serving over 100,000 youth to date. 

What is the accomplishment to date that your team is most proud of?  
Since the launch of The URUKUNDO Life Skills Board Game, the URUKUNDO Initiative team has able to sell more than 600 packages and bring in approximately $12,000 of revenue from sales and reached the break-even point within their first year and a half of operations.  

Moreover, the venture has won various local and international awards and grants, including those which enabled them to digitize their product and reach a wider audience. URUKUNDO Life Skills Board Game has proven tangible results in terms of both the growing sales and awards as well as the impact it has made in the community. The community impact is evidenced by data collected in pre-playing and post-playing surveys that have demonstrated 82.6% increase in knowledge acquisition among adolescents and youth using the product at school and other youth networks.  

If you could give advice to another founder getting started, what would that be?  

“The advice that we can give to another founder getting started is to solve a real problem for their customers. Make sure you understand your target audience and their needs and focus on developing a solution that addresses those needs in a unique and valuable way. Also, remember to surround yourself with talented, dedicated individuals who share your vision and are committed to helping you achieve your goals and connect with other entrepreneurs, mentors, and industry experts. It is a long and challenging journey, and there will be setbacks along the way. Stay focused on your goals, remain persistent, and keep pushing forward even when the going gets tough.”

Looking forward, The URUKUNDO Initiative is looking to scale across the continent, to serve their target market of 600 million. The venture also plans on launching the URUKUNDO Life Skills Board Game Mobile Application to reach across Africa, beginning with their established partnerships with schools, refugee camps, and youth centres who use their physical product. 

You can learn more about URUKUNDO Initiative

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