Increased income and fewer health risks – Sparked Women!

December 14, 2016

AIDS is still the leading cause of death for young women. Every year, 390,000 adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV - more than 1,000 every day. Sparked Women, a new project of Aidsfonds, kicked off in Kampala recently and aims to reduce new HIV infections in women aged 15-24 in Uganda by tackling the high unemployment rates among them. Successful micro-entrepreneurs will benefit from sustainable livelihoods and income, savings and self-confidence, enabling them to make safer sexual health choices and access health services when needed.

Martine Weve, project manager Sparked Women at Aidsfonds at the kick off

Mobile micro-entrepreneurs to improve health in communities

Over the coming two years, the innovative Sparked Women project will introduce two proven business models in six districts in Uganda to reduce HIV infections. The Healthy Entrepreneurs model will enable 770 women to become owners of small mobile enterprises. These entrepreneurs will sell over-the-counter health products such as condoms, personal care items and pharmaceuticals. Moreover, they will disseminate health information about, for example, HIV treatment and prevention, stigma, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission. The young businesswomen will be provided with an electronic tablet for educational purposes and to digitally manage their stocks and adequately respond to the needs of the communities. In this way, remote communities that lack facilities are given access to tailor-made health information, products and services.

Self-employment opportunities: a local solution to transform lives

With the other business model, the Sawa World local solutions model, we offer 7,000 young women over 30 self-employment opportunities by providing training, practical skills and educational tools. Motivated young women affected by HIV will be recruited in the communities by local partners National Forum of People Living with HIV/AIDS Networks in Uganda (NAFOPHANU) and International Community of Women Living with HIV Eastern Africa (ICW EA)

DREAMS to fast-track the AIDS response

Aidsfonds has successfully applied to the DREAMS Innovation Challenge and has been awarded a grant of over 1.2 million dollars for the Sparked Women project. The DREAMS Innovation Challenge is a partnership to reduce new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in ten sub-Saharan African countries.

The ten DREAMS countries, including Uganda, account for nearly half of all new HIV infections that occurred among adolescent girls and young women globally in 2014. Regions, districts and provinces with the highest burdens for young women are selected within these countries, including the districts where we will start Sparked Women. The project is contributing to the Fast-Track initiative which calls on all of us to focus our resources on the geographical areas and the populations in greatest need. 

The Sparked Women project is funded by PEPFAR as part of the DREAMS Innovation Challenge, supported by PEPFAR; Janssen Pharmaceutica NV (Janssen), one of the Janssen pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson; and ViiV Healthcare. JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. is the Funds Manager for this award.