Venture Recovery Stories: BridgeCap Insurance

Venture Recovery Stories: BridgeCap Insurance

60% of Kenyans don’t have access to essential healthcare services and only 40% can afford healthcare services. This is because the current existing healthcare insurance is too expensive. BridgeCap provides affordable and flexible healthcare insurance coverage for low income earners through an easy-to-use technological platform that is accessible both online and on every mobile phone.

How would you describe BidgeCap Insurance?

BridgeCap Insurance is a part of BCFS Group Limited, which also offers financing and advisory services. We are a wholesome financial hub. We provide affordable financial and insurance services to our clients. Bridgecap has three major products – SME loans/ financing, Financial Advisory services and Insurance Brokerage service.


How was the enterprise faring before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic?

The year had started in a great way and the numbers were great. However, the COVID-19 pandemic entirely changed the shape of business. The financial advisory side of business slowed down, but the insurance side of it picked up. Currently, the insurance business is the one sustaining the enterprise.


What are some of the challenges you have faced during COVID-19, in general as an entrepreneur and as a business?

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an overall reduction in the need for financial advisory services sparked off the loss of a couple of our key clients. The other clients redirected priorities to other business areas besides advisory support significantly affecting our revenues. Initially this was such a tumultuous time for our venture that every company in every industry in every corner of the country and every family was adjusting to loss of income and shifting their priorities to the basics.


How has your business changed or evolved due to COVID-19?

It is during this challenging period that we launched our flagship medical plan, Endelea Plan, which comes in three packages. Under these plans, we have Endelea Jamii to reach the people at the bottom of the pyramid; the uninsured. BridgeCap is working with them to give them financing to run businesses and in turn they can afford the small premium we charge for our cover. This is the social aspect of the business.

We have made health insurance accessible to those who cannot afford to pay in lump sum as we allow our clients to pay in installments enabling them to access world class treatment. We have also enhanced our digital platform capabilities offering our clients options to conveniently access our products and complete transactions through online portal, mobile app and USSD service.


In your own opinion, what is the most significant change that took place with your venture in the past 3 months?

New advisory client acquisition. We have been able to sign a new advisory agreement with the county government and also developed new partnership with a lead insurance company, Jubilee Insurance.


Why was this particular change the most significant to you?

These partnerships have increased our visibility and in turn we have been able to increase the venture’s impact to 350 individual clients with access to insurance cover and 30 enterprises having access to business financing.


What role has ygap played in those changes and / or what are some outcomes your venture has achieved as a result of being supported by ygap?

ygap has actively supported Bridgecap in Marketing Strategy development to increase the ventures visibility on social media. In addition, as a mentee, the external mentorship program offered by ygap has been valuable in terms of engaging mentors who are entrepreneurs as well making it easy for them to relate with some of the challenges a founder goes through and develop workable strategies surrounding these challenges.

What does the future of your venture look like post COVID-19?

Surprisingly, our insurance has performed better than the previous years. So far, our services are available in over 100 medical facilities. We hope to keep this growth trajectory in the coming years by leveraging on technology. We are working tirelessly to ensure more people in low income areas are able to access good and quality health care by working with hospitals operating in those areas.


What are the key ingredients for successfully overcoming challenges?

A business owner must be “all in,” and willing to devote more than the typical 40 hours per week if they hope to succeed and be open to establishing business partnership. If sales and marketing are not your strong suit, reach out to someone who can advise you on the same.


How have you been able to pivot/adapt so fast in the face of a pandemic?

Throughout the crisis, the healthcare sector has been open and collaborative. The strongest leaders will continue to welcome support from partners and communities to deliver the best possible long-term care. We have been able to reach out to other regional hospitals to engage their patients in insurance conversations and adapt to taking up insurance covers. Bridgecap has also used the lessons learnt during the pandemic to meet future demand for Insurance and Advisory services


What is your advice to other entrepreneurs in regards to adapting/coping during a pandemic?

To always maintain good terms with everyone you work with and create a network in your field that can both help you transition to a new product and give you advice along the way.

I would also recommend an entrepreneur concentrating on the impact of a solution to one small problem and what revenue it will incur. Instead of going after the big problem right from the get-go, take incremental steps, innovating and modifying your prices along the way.


On a scale of 1-10 (1= unlikely and 10= very likely), how likely would you be to recommend other early-stage impact entrepreneurs to look to ygap for support to help grow their ventures? Also why?

I would give it a 9 because the strategy support they give ventures and the willingness to provide that link to experts to address specific venture challenges is valuable in developing future action plans.

Kenneth Lukale of BridgeCap Insurance

BridgeCap Insurance is a ygap Kenya 2020 Program alumni, and recently completed the ygap Re-Accelerator Program, designed to support ventures through the effects of COVID-19.

A new way to Demo Day

Pitches From The ygap First Gens 2020 Cohort

The First Gens program supports the most ambitious, game-changing impact ventures led by migrants and refugees that are improving the lives of people living in disadvantage in Australia. 

Australia’s first compostable straw, a social enterprise cafe, a storytelling agency, an online marketplace for social enterprises were among the twelve ventures that were selected for the ygap First Gens 2020 cohort, in our first ever virtual accelerator program.

Instead of holding a face to face Demo Day to finish the program, we decided to change format, asking ventures to instead provide a pitch in video form; a resource they can continue to use into the future, and a more accessible way to culminate the program (Head here for more on why we’re rethinking Demo Days).

We’d like to congratulate these ventures for being resilient, brave and for staying the course during an especially challenging and uncertain year. Below are the video pitches from the 2020 cohort of First Gens so you can hear about the ventures and be inspired by the work they are doing, just like we have been.

You can also show your support by following them on their socials, telling others about their work, or connecting them to a potential customer, investor or supporter.

Watch the pitch videos below:

Marion Vigot, Mister Rye

Cynthia Wong, Empower2Free

Niv Avtar, Dinidae

Hawanatu Bangura, Mahawa Creative

Mateo Palacio Gomez and Haidar Alfallouji, Charity Bay

Jackie Colmar and Tracey Martinovich, Enso

Louisa Ong, Tilegne Therapy

Jack Wu, Tiny Tutors

Minerva Jimenez, Minjums

Belle To, The Impact Stylist

Layana Franco, Swap-a-Porter

For more information on First Gens, please contact: Kim Nguyen (First Gens program coordinator) at

ygap and Program Led Fundraising

ygap and Program Led Fundraising

The evolution of ygap’s fundraising strategy

Fundraising is an ongoing challenge for most Not-For-Profit (NFP) organisations despite how long they’ve been in operation. Delivering on their mission, which is what they do best, traditionally does not raise revenue in itself (quite the opposite) and planned impact-driven interventions must be carefully balanced against the necessary resources required to deliver these effectively. Securing funding for an early-stage NFP at the beginning of its journey however, can be even tougher. As a NFP starts out, it lacks the credible reputation, historical data, proven methodology, established systems and proven track record as an organisation to present a case for partnership. At this stage of its development, it becomes imperative for an organisation to be able to sell a vision of the future, and what impact they hope to make, in order to acquire that initial funding. 

Developing a solid and proven body of activity becomes even more challenging for a young NFP engaging in the complexities of  international development, often having to carefully enter and understand  new ecosystems, form new partnerships, test new methods, and navigate the multi-dimensions of local context. Equally as challenging is developing income streams that are sustainable, diverse enough to avoid the risk of focusing all fundraising attention in one place, and that align with the vision, mission and values of the organisation. More challenging still is doing both of these things well, and in synergy. 

As a young organisation, ygap’s early funding was based on selling a vision, a story of how the world should be, and finding partners who shared this vision. This strategy was incredibly effective for the burgeoning non-profit, especially in the portion of ygap’s history where it was primarily a fundraising body rather than an implementation body. ygap was masterful at developing innovative fundraising campaigns like Polished Man and 5 Cent, and starting our own social enterprises whose profits would support the funding of programs through implementation partners. 

The funding we were able to raise through these early initiatives is a testament to the tenacity, vision and passion of ygap’s founders and the partners who seed-funded our work. To paint a picture of a future vision that people are not only excited by, but prepared to back with their investment is no small task. It is also the reason that ygap was in a position to merge with Spark* in 2015, an organisation with a similar vision and a values-aligned model for international development, as an implementation partner, and bring program delivery in-house. When the merger happened, ygap’s focus and expertise was broadened significantly and the need emerged to move toward funding our work based upon a proven impact model, and further align our income streams to this model. 


What do we mean by program-led fundraising?

Since ygap has shifted its focus to program design and delivery, alongside fundraising, we have developed greater breadth and depth in terms of our expertise around impact enterprise, locally led development, and contextualising our work based on location. Programs are co-created by our In-Country Program Teams based on the specific needs of the ventures in the ecosystems in which we work, detailed data collection from past programs, and insights gleaned from past iterations, which all contribute to the continuing evolution of our methodology and increasing effectiveness. 

Implementing programs based on these core foundations ensures that we approach our work in the most effective way and is most likely to achieve the program’s intended outcomes. Clear objectives underpinned by clear inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes, that are validated by a dedicated Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning strategy, provides ygap the opportunity to engage with funders who have trust in ygap’s ability to deliver on these outcomes, and are willing to support the organisation to continue to do so. 

Whilst having retained and still striving towards our vision of ‘a world without poverty’, this new direction is about focusing in on the results we have to show from the work that we’ve done, the tangible improvements in key metrics that emerge with every new data set we collect, and the  continually developing expertise of the organisation as a whole. 


Why is program-led fundraising important?  

Practicing program-led fundraising forces us to be very clear with the value proposition of our programs, and allows us to engage with partners who are aligned with our vision, mission and objectives. It means that we stand out from the crowd to those who have a specific interest in the work we do, the challenges we face and how we’ve learnt from them which leads long term partnerships that are based on transparency, integrity and accountability. Being program driven with a strong value proposition means that we can continue supporting locally-led change. 

It may take a little more work but we believe it’s worth it and is as beneficial to our partners as it is to us. Adopting a lens of program-led fundraising means the care we take to ensure what we do is driven by the people we serve gives partners an intimate understanding of our work, and confidence that their investment is truly making a difference. 



Program-led fundraising introduces a subtle but important shift to the dynamic of ygap’s impact work and our partnerships. Deep engagement with the communities in which we work and implementing programs that are driven by the local context allows us to deliver our work in the most impactful and effective manner. Importantly, it means that we have to be very clear with what we do and what we hope to achieve, and commit to presenting data to prove our theory of change. We must keep funders informed of progress, successes reached and the lessons obtained from the inevitable challenges faced that we look forward to integrating into future programs. 

This shift towards program-led fundraising means that we can continue to invest in diverse revenue streams, and pursue innovative income ideas, but with a foundation that is based on the strength of our work, continuing to develop that synergy between our impact and our fundraising as we go. 

To find out more about partnering with ygap, contact our Partnerships Manager, Christie Raymond, at

Venture Recovery Stories: Kahuto Pacific

Venture Recovery Stories: Kahuto Pacific

Kahuto Pacific are using drone technology to make a difference

Kahuto Pacific is an alumni venture of yher Pacific Islands. They exist to help companies, organisations, and government collect and transform data via GIS Mapping and drone technology to improve infrastructure, the environment, planning and much more. Through their technology they are able to survey in a couple hours what would take multiple survey crews a couple of weeks.

Kahuto Pacific is also helping to protect the Soga palm which is under threat of extinction in Fiji, using drones and GIS tools to help map this vital resource. The data captured will be used by Kahuto Pacific program partners to help implement more sustainable harvesting methods and empower farmers. 

What are some of the challenges you have faced during COVID-19, in general as an entrepreneur and as a business?

Our operation was severely impacted with national lockdowns restricting movement around the country. In addition, our services were impeded by Fiji’s Civil Aviation Authority placing a halt on all flying not related to essential services. With our existing client base (loyal, returning Business to Business customers) also feeling the brunt of COVID-19, we experienced a stark decline in projects and cash flow. Amidst the uncertain landscape, it was challenging to maintain staff morale. 

As an entrepreneur the biggest challenge was the uncertainty of everything around us, COVID19 – how long will it last? When will the borders open? How will the economy in Fiji be affected? What will the government do to assist Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)? So many questions, and not knowing the answers to all of them and trying to lead our company in this unique time was a huge challenge. We were constantly asking ourselves, should we close the business for the year 2020 to reduce our costs and spending and return next year? Therefore leading a team whilst trying to reassure yourself that everything will be okay is tricky and presents a challenge in itself. Also, since we’ve established our primary services after setting up the business COVID-19 made us think of how we would “pivot” or survive with our current services. The next challenge was then trying to decide what other services we could offer or how we could be supporting essential services.


 How has your business changed or evolved due to COVID-19?

Thankfully Fiji has now entered a period of COVID-19 containment – restrictions have lifted considerably, allowing us to resume work. 

COVID-19 initially seemed very gloomy and depressing for our business and I assume for many business owners. However, as we start to adjust to this “new normal” living with COVID-19, it has allowed our business to realign, reset and reboot ourselves through programs such as the ygap Re-Accelerator Program. 

Our business now has a bit more clarity of what direction we wish to move forward in. We feel that COVID-19 has allowed us as business owners to evaluate our business, customers, and services and has made us better for it. Our business is evolving through a few of our services and has also evolved through getting re-started again after restrictions have eased.


In your own opinion, what is the most significant change that took place with your venture in the past 3 or 6 months?

As a business we’ve had to regroup and retarget our approach, particularly our marketing push – identifying new audiences and sectors, bolstering our brand, and amplifying our voice.

I definitely feel that the most significant change for our business is that we’ve had time (forced time during lockdown and the quiet period) to re-evaluate our business, identify areas that need the most attention and time. The Re-Accelerator Program has allowed us to focus on one of areas that we identified, especially online presence. 

This process has allowed us as business owners to reset ourselves, and has given us more focus on the business than ever. So I think the change in mindset and being presented with the right tools, such as the program, has been the most significant change during the past 3 – 6 months. 


Why was this particular change the most significant to you?

Given the uncertain times, it’s vital we diversify our customer base, secure alternative revenue streams and grow our reputation. 

The change in mindset is allowing us to survive during this unique time and enabling us to discover news services and also focus on our areas of attention. 


What role has ygap played in those changes and / or what are some outcomes your venture has achieved as a result of being supported by ygap and/or participating in the re-accelerator?

The Re-Accelerator Program is helping us enhance our brand and rejuvenate our online platform – a new website, improved content, a more holistic online marketing strategy and tactics. 

This program has played a significant role in providing a platform not only to improve our online presence and branding but through the process of rejuvenating our online presence. It has reminded us of our ‘why’ and made our identity stronger and clearer. 

The assistance provided through the program has been immensely helpful for us as business owners. It’s taken us back to the foundations of our businesses and has helped us make it a firmer foundation! 

Since the program started we have been able to solidify our branding as a company, identify the best way to capture content for our website and explore many ways for improving our marketing. 

I just want to emphasize that although the outcome of the program will be a new website and improving our online presence, the biggest outcome I will take from the program is it has allowed me to establish our why, and has made it clear for us on how to move forward.

Is there anything you’re finding particularly enjoyable and/or valuable during the process?

The process has been simply amazing. It allowed us to identify our weaknesses and then it helped us strengthen a particular weakness. Being able to look at it from that point of view and then seeing the progress from the start has been great for myself. Talei has been absolutely outstanding and is so knowledgeable in this area, I feel very confident that we will achieve the outcome we want. 

The 1 on 1 sessions are extremely beneficial as they allow us to share our thoughts and then worked with our scrambled thoughts and arranged it to make sense!


How do you see these outcomes improving your venture over the next 6-12 months?

Identity/Our Why

  • Solidifying our identity through our branding and reminding us of our why will steer us in the right direction for our business. Having a clear vision of how we see ourselves as a company will then provide a clear path of where we want to go. 

Online Presence/Branding/Website/Marketing

  • The program has taught us so much and in particular of how we view our website and that it’s the hub of all our online presence. Knowing this will help us develop content and drive our online presence through our website. Our rejuvenated website will help us drive our quotes through the website and hopefully convert them to sales. That is the dream!


What does the future of your venture look like post COVID-19?

In terms of branding, we are much stronger now as who we are and how we present ourselves to our clients. Our future is still uncertain as we have no idea how long COVID-19 will last and when we move into “post COVID!” – but we feel somewhat confident that through focusing on our branding and making certain pivots, we will be able to survive!


Do you have any advice you’d like to offer other entrepreneurs in regards to adapting/coping during a pandemic?

It’s all in the mindset! 


How likely would you be to recommend other early-stage impact entrepreneurs to look to programs like ygap for support to help grow their ventures? Also why? 


ygap focuses on the process and encourages you to think of your WHY? Knowing and identifying this brings clarity of how you will move forward as an entrepreneur. 

Kahuto Pacific is a yher Pacific Islands alumni, and recently completed the ygap Re-Accelerator Program, designed to support ventures through the effects of COVID-19.

To learn more about Kahuto Pacific, head to

Venture Recovery Stories: Sibocali

Venture Recovery Stories: Sibocali

Some of the indigenous root vegetable products made by Sibocali

Sibocali is an agribusiness that manufactures a variety of edible products, such as crisps and porridge, that are made from indigienous South African root vegetables. The business works with rural women, where they teach them how to grow and harvest the vegetables that the venture uses in the production of its products.

Behind Sibocali is Sibongile Mtsabe, a local entrepreneur from a community in the KwaZulu Natal province of South Africa. Sibocali was selected for the 2020 ygap South Africa Re-Accelerator program.

What are some of the challenges you have faced during COVID-19, in general as an entrepreneur and as a business? 

One of the first challenges was that our sales went down. Our usual processing facility was not available to us so we got a temporary one which was locked up later because those who we were sublet to were summoned to pay the rent balances for past months of lockdown, and they weren’t able to. We started looking for a space to install a container and looking for new clients as there were slow sales in retailers where we distribute. We didn’t have online platforms like Ecommerce or a website so we advertised on social media, but without a website people didn’t trust us hence there were barley sales.

We found a potential buyer, but they needed us to upgrade our space with industrial equipment so we could gain confidence with bigger retailers, like Amazon and Take a lot, which requires us to meet national standards in order to grow to international standards to gain a greater market share. We also experienced delays when applying for different types of support in different offices and the excuse was COVID-19. 


How has your business changed or evolved due to COVID-19? 

In the midst of sales slowing down, we got some clients that we did not expect, like the Pick n Pay Berea store. They gave us a chance to supply our crisps. We also got an assurance from our support at ygap to get a functional container that we will use as a mini factory. 

We secured a space to set up our cargo container at KwaMashu Park and we are also getting more promises to get space which gives us an advantage. We have evolved; they say challenges help one to grow, and we have new products that we would have delayed producing if it was not for the COVID-19 challenges. 


What has been the most significant change that has taken place over the past few months?

There are a couple of key changes; getting additional products in our range, support to sell online through ECommerce, getting a new working space, and linking with international potential buyers. 

Another change was that the Kenyan Economic Development Department invited us to become suppliers. Fortunately, we had some of the products they needed and in short there is the potential of new markets opening for us. Despite the challenges, the business has grown all round.  


Why were these particular changes the most significant to you? 

It gave me joy to see the growth of the business, and though it has been challenging, this means more people will be impacted. Our economy will grow because we will soon need more suppliers and as a result there will be more job opportunities opening soon as we expand. Rural and township communities will soon be able to increase their income, especially through growing and supplying new produce to us. 


What role has ygap played in helping your venture through those changes and what are some outcomes your venture has achieved as a result of participating in the ygap South Africa Re-Accelerator Program?

ygap played a great role in supporting us during trying times. We got a small grant that helped us to purchase the instant yam mash or instant stiff pap we needed for manufacturing, and we managed to get the place we temporarily worked in conducive to smooth processing. We will also get a container that will solve our pressing challenge of needing a working factory, and ygap will help us to link with people who will help us to recycle our waste for power generation and this will increase our profits. They are also assisting us to set up an ecommerce website. Sharing with other entrepreneurs through the ygap Re-Accelerator Program is helping us to think and revise the way we do business, and the ygap team is consistently checking up on us which keeps us motivated. ygap has helped us to stay afloat through the advice they shared.

How do you see these outcomes improving your venture over the next 6-12 months? 

The business has made links, meaning that new relationships have been ignited and we will maintain them and grow from them as we become better and bigger. We aim to build and grow a strong database of skilled farmers. As our standards have improved through the challenges of COVID-19, we hope to draw in new customers. 


What does the future of your venture look like post COVID-19? 

It looks bright and promising 


What are the key ingredients for successfully overcoming challenges?

Never give up on your dreams, and when one thing is not working try something new using the same resources or additional resources to make things work. Pivot your business, there is always a way out. 


What is your advice to other entrepreneurs in regards to adapting/coping during a pandemic

Never give up in trying times, when things are getting tough it is a training for one to be innovative and think more on how to improve. Challenge your mind and your spirit to give better solutions. Focus on the prize and close the ears to noise called challenges. Remember that tough times don’t last but tough people do. 


On a scale of 1-10, where 1 is unlikely and 10 is very likely, how likely would you be to recommend other early-stage impact entrepreneurs to look to ygap for support to help grow their ventures? 

10 = very likely. I will recommend other entrepreneurs’ startups to ygap because they will learn how to find the roots of why they are doing their business. The discovery of why they do what they do  will help them to derive a good strategy and move their business forward while impacting their communities.

Sibocali is a ygap South Africa alumni, and recently completed the ygap Re-Accelerator Program, designed to support ventures through the effects of COVID-19.

Introducing the ygap First Gens 2020 Cohort

ygap First Gens welcomes a new cohort to its first virtual accelerator program

Australia’s first compostable straw, a social enterprise cafe, a storytelling agency, an online marketplace for social enterprises are among the twelve ventures that have been selected for the ygap First Gens 2020 program.

The First Gens program supports the most ambitious, game-changing impact ventures led by migrants and refugees that are improving the lives of people living in disadvantage in Australia. 

The internationally acclaimed program comprises of a five-day intensive virtual program to fast track the ventures, access to mentorship and tailored support from ygap’s extensive network of technical and entrepreneurial mentors, access to pro-bono professional service providers including Hall & Wilcox and Pinnacle Health, small grants and up to $50,000 in funding for the most promising, viable ventures.

While our ventures face challenges that have been intensified as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, ygap First Gens will continue to back our ventures by providing a supportive community, sharing resources and opportunities so together, we can survive the challenges that lie ahead of us and work towards creating a better world for all. 

“We are so excited to be welcoming a new cohort to the First Gens program. It’s such a privilege during these times to be able to fulfil our promise and commitment to continue supporting diverse founders across the Australian ecosystem. We are looking forward to working with these amazing founders to grow their businesses and maximise their social impact in the communities they serve.” – Adelide Mutinda, First Gens Program Manager

For more information, please contact: Kim Nguyen (First Gens program coordinator) at

Meet the new cohort:

The ygap and Polished Man story

The ygap and Polished Man story

Polished Man is in its seventh year now. Many people know that the campaign is run by ygap, but not many people know why. Read on to find out.

How did Polished Man start?

Polished Man is a fundraising and awareness campaign that has been run by ygap since 2014. The idea for Polished Man came about when ygap Co-Founder and former CEO, Elliot Costello, travelled to Cambodia in 2013 with one of the Polished Man beneficiary partners, Hagar International. After spending time with a young girl named Thea, who painted his fingernails blue and drew a heart on his palm, Elliot learned that Thea was in Hagar’s care due to the long term abuse she had suffered at the hands of the director of the orphanage where she had once lived. 

Thea’s story stuck with Elliot, and upon returning home the concept for Polished Man began to form; a campaign that asked people to paint a nail blue for the month of October, sparking conversations and raising funds for trauma prevention and trauma recovery for children around the world. The one painted nail represents the one billion children that experience some form of violence every year, and the campaign is named in acknowledgement that men both perpetrate and experience high levels of violence, and are less likely to seek help to recover. 

Polished Man is about changing the narrative and breaking the cycle of violence, by encouraging everyone to paint a nail, have difficult discussions about what is usually a taboo subject, and raise much needed funds to help end violence against children.

What is the relationship between ygap and Polished Man?

In 2014, when Polished Man began, ygap was primarily a fundraising organisation that supported beneficiary partners to implement projects for local change, rather than running its own. In 2016, ygap merged with Spark*, an international organisation that had created programs to back local change in communities around the world. These two organizations blended together their respective strengths, creating an entity that excelled at both fundraising and running programs with the purpose of ending poverty. 

As Polished Man grew alongside the newly merged ygap, the campaign continued to help fund beneficiary partners in the area of trauma recovery, however, the team determined that to truly end violence against children there must be a focus on trauma prevention. In recognition that supporting impact enterprises can be a lever for poverty alleviation as well as creating an environment where children are less likely to experience violence, funds from Polished Man were channeled to ygap’s programs as the key strategy for prevention; helping people lift themselves out of poverty and disadvantage in communities around the world and at the same time, building environments where violence against children was less likely. Seven years on, Polished Man continues to be a campaign fully run and funded by ygap.

How does ending violence against children fit with ygap’s vision? 

ygap’s vision is a world without poverty, and we work to achieve this through backing local change – supporting local impact ventures that use the power of social entrepreneurship to provide opportunities for people to lift themselves out of poverty and disadvantage; as well as backing local partners whose work improves the overall enabling environment for these impact ventures through systems level change. 

Why focus on social entrepreneurship? Sustainable Development Goal number eight, Decent Work and Economic Growth, underlines that ‘sustained and inclusive economic growth can drive progress, create decent jobs for all and improve living standards’. Backing local change in emerging markets, through supporting locally led impact ventures, is the key lever that ygap uses to work toward a world without poverty. However, poverty is not the only issue that this approach helps to solve. 

The World Health Organisation identifies Income and Economic Strengthening as one of the key levers of their INSPIRE model; seven strategies to prevent violence against children. In the same way that economic independence means that people who have their basic needs met are more able to flourish and provide for their families, it also means that children are more likely to live in happier and safer homes and communities, and are less likely to experience violence.

How are violence and poverty entwined? 

Half the world’s children experienced violence in the last year alone. Witnessing or experiencing violence as a child can have an adverse effect on people’s psychological and physical health into their adult lives, including low self-esteem, self-harm, difficulty forming relationships, depression, homelessness, drug and alcohol dependency; further barriers for people to get ahead in life or lift themselves out of poverty, no matter what opportunities they might have access to. Ventures supported through ygap not only increase opportunities for the people to access things like job creation, job security and better health and education; they are also creating a stronger socially enabling environment for their communities to progress. 

Through its programs, ygap is addressing inequality through income and economic strengthening, creating an environment where people are more able to participate in their community, break cycles of violence, and lift themselves and their families out of poverty and disadvantage.

Why does Polished Man fund ygap’s work? 

Funds raised through Polished Man are channeled towards trauma prevention and trauma recovery, with a focus on prevention because we want to help end the cycle of violence rather than just treat it. 

85% of funds raised are channeled into trauma prevention; programs run through ygap that support impact ventures across Kenya, South Africa, Bangladesh, the Pacific Islands and Australia, to help people lift themselves out of poverty or disadvantage, breaking the cycle of violence through income and economic strengthening, a key pillar of the WHO model for strategies to prevent violence against children. 

While prevention is the only way to truly end violence, we are not there yet. In recognition of the one billion children who have already experienced violence in the last year alone, Polished Man contributes 15% of funds raised through the campaign to trauma recovery programs run through world-class organisations Hagar, SAMSN, the Australian Childhood Foundation and the New York Centre for Children.

To find out more about Polished Man, or to sign up to this year’s campaign, head to

Venture Recovery Stories: Robofun

Venture Recovery Stories: Robofun

Transitioning to online learning has been both challenging and rewarding for Robofun

Robofun designs and runs tailored workshops to inspire and attract primary school girls to participate in STEM and familiarise young boys to work with girls in the lab. The programs offered cover coding, robotics and 3D design at multiple levels. In light of COVID-19, Robofun was able to reimagine its services to the online world by running virtual classes during the school holidays.

Lina Qasem, founder and managing director of Robofun said, “We’ve had to improvise in order to ensure our classes continue to run. This required us to pivot our business model to allow for 100% online remote and interactive learning. While it was very challenging to execute in such a short period of time, the feedback has been great, and we know parents needed this service.”

The ygap First Gens team spoke with 2018 First Gens alumni  and founder of Robofun, Lina Qasem about some of the challenges and opportunities arising from the pandemic, how ygap has supported Robofun through the re-accelerator and Robofun’s vision for a world beyond COVID-19. 


What are some of the challenges you have faced during COVID-19, in general as an entrepreneur and as a business?

As a business, we previously had lots of partnerships with places such as libraries,  schools, museums etc. However, as a result of the pandemic, many of these places closed and we were unable to run our workshops in person.

As an entrepreneur, it can be challenging trying to run a business from home whilst looking after a family and I experienced many pressures as a result of that. I had to change our business model completely and this was hard. However, with the support of my team, I was able to figure out the priorities for Robofun and focus on our online workshops and to postpone our partnerships to ensure our online workshops are successful.


How has your business changed or evolved due to COVID-19?

Robofun has quickly pivoted by moving our physical workshops to an online format. We couldn’t do the robotix classes in person so we had to pivot online and find the best software to simulate our robotix classes.

Some parents weren’t comfortable or familiar with registering their kids to participate online. However, after 1-2 months, our classes became full as parents became used to online learning and registered their kids to participate in our workshops. 

We changed the format by offering our partner schools and libraries with different options for online classes with various prices to make it flexible for them. As we understand that it is a challenging time for many businesses, we also began offering promotional discounts for our partners to access our workshops. For example, if you buy two classes, you get one free. 

Additionally for parents, we also offer one- off classes so they don’t have to purchase or register for bulk classes.


In your own opinion, what is the most significant change that took place with your venture in the past 3 or 6 months?

I’m happy because the most significant change to Robofun is that now we are offering classes globally. We have children from Japan, children from the United Arab  Emirates and from different states around Australia. Before, we used to only offer classes to Melbourne, now we can offer our program to everyone.


Why was this particular change the most significant to you?

This change is most significant because it will increase our impact to reach more girls around the world to learn and engage with STEM. Most kids who have registered are girls. This is great because we have access to a bigger market and most children who participated in our workshops have provided positive feedback.
When we reach more kids and increase our impact, this will help us to run more workshops and hire more people to run them and increase employment opportunities.

What role has ygap played in those changes and / or what are some outcomes your venture has achieved as a result of being supported by ygap and/or participating in the re-accelerator?

ygap has been so supportive and with their immediate help, we were able to go through this journey confidently. In the beginning, when we’re juggling different things, it’s good to have someone to hold you accountable, to let you know that we’re on the right track and to provide reassurance.  During the re-accelerator, for the financial session, it helped me a lot and I  found it useful because it showed me how I can minimise costs and increase my impact without spending more money. I also found the marketing session useful to promote our online classes and show to our audience that we’re still operating.

The re-accelerator helped us to not feel alone and helped us to see other ventures are going through a challenging time too. We felt supported. 


How do you see these outcomes improving your venture over the next 6-12 months?

These outcomes can help my venture in going ahead confidently, knowing there is a supportive team who I can rely on for any help. The next six months are uncertain, however, I know that we’ve gone through the worst and now, it’ll be easier to get through it with a supportive team and supportive coaches to ask for help. 


What does the future of your venture look like post COVID-19?

Robofun will keep offering our classes globally. We will keep running online classes and hopefully it’ll be the first option for anyone who is interested in learning about STEM. 


What are the key ingredients for successfully overcoming challenges?

Consistency, perseverance, keep trying and keep going until it works and being willing to ask for help. Also, believe in yourself and if you have this passion towards your venture, you will be able to overcome challenges, and keep focused. To keep focused, you need to stay motivated and find what keeps you motivated.


What is your advice to other entrepreneurs in regards to adapting/coping during a pandemic?

Just ask for help and stay motivated. Motivation will keep you going and wanting to give back to the community. Also look after yourself so you can give back to the community.

How likely are you to recommend other early-stage impact entrepreneurs to look to programs like the one ygap has run for support to help grow their ventures? Also why?

I can confidently recommend such a program, because ygap has been really helpful and has a supportive community to help you to keep moving forward and develop the confidence to know what you’re doing and go on the right track.

Robofun is making STEAM education accessible and fun. For more information, check here:

Robofun is a ygap First Gens alumni, and recently completed the ygap Re-Accelerator Program, designed to support ventures through the effects of COVID-19.

Call for Nation

ygap Bangladesh Supports Government Entrepreneurship Initiative

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

– Martin Luther King, Jr. 

As Bangladesh grips into fighting the catastrophic impacts of the Coronavirus, the crisis has led the Country and its People to battle the pandemic collectively as a Nation. In April 2020, The ICT Ministry of the Bangladesh Government launched their initiative “Call for Nation” in partnership with YGAP Bangladesh as the knowledge partner, to promote and support ideas and business solutions from talented and innovative entrepreneurs to address the challenges ensued from Covid-19. The initiative was inaugurated by the honourable Minister of State for Information and Communication Technology Division of Bangladesh, Mr. Zunaid Ahmed Palak.

YGAP Bangladesh played a crucial role to aid the Government to bring this idea to execute the initiative successfully. YGAP Bangladesh co-designed the selection process of the applications as well as developed the selection criterion based on which the top finalists would be selected. We also co-designed the coaching sessions for the top finalists and were advisors to the Government for the Jury Selections where we advised and provided our expert opinions on which industry leaders would be appropriate to take on the role of a Jury Member in accordance to the categories of applications. We also co-designed and set the KPIs for both Coaches and Jurors to ensure progress from both sides.

The program was executed entirely digitally in multiple phases. A total of 680 start-up applications were pre-screened to shortlist the top 70 applicants using the selection criterions: Viability of Business, Potential for Impact and Alignment, Scalability, Team and Innovative Approach. These 70 applicants were then provided 1:1 coaching from 18 handpicked coaches by the Government which included Mr. Erad Kawsar, Country Director of YGAP Bangladesh. Following the coaching sessions, we conducted a deep-analysis of the start-ups and aided the second screening for the selection where the top 20 finalists were selected for their Live Pitch sessions on Facebook. Subsequently, we provided coaching to the 5 of the top 20 finalists who are working to respond to social and industrial needs in Risk Management, Healthcare, Employment Creation and Communication sectors. Our one-on-one coaching with the top 5 finalists revolved around supporting the entrepreneurs to strengthen their business model to ensure sustainability and their presentation skills for their live pitch sessions online.

We further aided the judges to make informed decisions through our data metrics and expert opinions of the start-ups who had applied to select a winner from each of the 6 categories, which are:

  • Socioeconomically disadvantaged population – Total 102 Applications

Winner: Shujog – a virtual operational network which strengthens the existing Relief Management system to support the disadvantaged marginalised population.

  • Business operation & production – Total 82 Applications

Winner: Landknock – A low-cost digital grocery management platform for the micro and small retailers to enable them to sell online.

  • Health care equipment & treatment – Total 158 Applications

Winner: PAPR – A low cost PAPR system (Powered air-purifying respirators) which provides maximum protection against virus, bacteria and contaminated environments to its users.

  • Access to information – Total 133 Applications

Winner: Nirapod – An online monitoring and management system to aid the Government of Bangladesh to monitor home-quarantined patients. They also have a supporting app for people who are in home-quarantine to inform the authority that they are following their quarantine as advised.

  • Mental Health – 39 Applications

Winner: Moner Bondhu – A digital mental healthcare and well-being platform, providing counselling, conducting workshops and group sessions, conducting research projects and raising awareness through online content, radio show, TV show and campaigns. They were also part of YGAP Bangladesh’s UNDP Youth Co:Lab 2.0 Mentorship program where we supported them to strengthen their business from multiple dimensions to ensure scalability and survivability.

  • Open ideas – 86 Applications

Winner: Long Distance Disinfection Services – Using Remotely Piloted Vehicles (Ground Robots and Drones), LDDS provides disinfection in locked down areas to provide rapid/continuous disinfection. 


To scale and develop their business, as the winners, they received:

  1. Seed funding/Funds to scale up
  2. Support to avail resources required to successfully build their products/services
  3. Bridging with other large-scale enterprises/entrepreneurs
  4. Opportunity to showcase their winning solutions on Oracle Cloud Platform in Oracle Event/Seminar.

The winner with the most impactful business will also receive further mentorship support from YGAP Bangladesh.

These heroes are now helping the Government fight the pandemic and protect the Nation’s people from the deadly pandemic. We salute these heroes for their resilience and dedication to help their Country.


“The best thing I did was to choose the right heroes”

– Warren Buffet, CEO, Berkshire Hathaway

– Written by ygap Bangladesh Country Director, Erad Kawsar, and ygap Bangladesh Program Manager Mehrab bin Tarek

Staying Aligned - ygap's approach to impact measurement

Staying Aligned - ygap's approach to impact measurement

Impact measurement takes on many forms, shapes and sizes. This is how we approach ours.

Who we are

ygap is an international development organisation that supports early-stage social impact ventures with locally-led solutions to local problems. We believe in the power of entrepreneurship as an effective and sustainable way to provide opportunities for people to lift themselves out of poverty and disadvantage. We find, accelerate and support the growth of impact ventures led by local entrepreneurs who deeply understand the unique challenges of their communities and are best placed to develop solutions. We currently support ventures across Africa, South Asia, the Pacific Islands and Australia. ygap has offices and local teams that lead our programs in each area that we work.

ygap’s Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning (MEL) journey started from the very beginning.

Since the first cohort of ventures we supported back in 2013, we have sought to answer the question – How do we know that our program is achieving what we want it to – to empower local entrepreneurs in emerging markets to strengthen their early-stage businesses and set themselves up for the best chance to grow and succeed?

Over the years we have done surveys, engaged in conversations with our entrepreneurs and monitored specific indicators to help us build the case for our accelerator program model. We have sought to refine and adapt our support according to the needs of our entrepreneurs.

Three key elements of ygap’s approach to MEL

The first, is that we are SDG-aligned. By supporting early-stage impact ventures, we are directly contributing to Goal 1: No Poverty and  Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth. We also contribute to Goal 5: Gender Equality through empowering female-entrepreneurs in our yher programs and ensuring that our wider ygap program is accessible to all genders.



The second element is considering what is ygap-direct impact. These are the outputs of our program that we have direct control over.  This is quantified through metrics such as how many programs we’ve run, how many ventures we’ve supported, and where these ventures are located. We also track a number of indicators which help give us an idea of the intermediate outcomes of the support we provide these ventures, including their survival rate up to two years post-program, as well as their growth in revenue, job creation, and beneficiary reach. Although there is no exact science to determine just how big a part our program played in these indicators, we record the operational aspects of our programmatic intervention such as the growth in knowledge and skills, the number of hours of 1:1 support provided, significant connections brokered, and funding distributed to support our claim for attribution.

The third aspect of our MEL approach is monitoring the effects that the ventures we support have on the communities they work with, up to two years post-program. We recognise that the ventures we work with are the ones who are doing the important work in inciting local change, whether it is by providing STEM education to young girls or training small-holder farmers to increase their crop yields. We track the SDGs that participating ventures align with, which all contribute to SDG 1: No poverty as we recognise that the causes of poverty are multi-faceted.

In collecting this data we ask ventures to measure, to the best of their ability, the number of people that have been impacted by their work. As all our ventures are working towards SDG 1: No Poverty, these beneficiaries comprise an overall estimation of the number of people who have an opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty through the 552 ventures working towards this goal. 

Our ventures’ impact focus areas: See the number of ventures focused on a particular SDG under each icon. Each venture aligns with at least one SDG and all are contributing to the greater goal of SDG 1: No poverty

Guiding principles for Impact measurement

In developing an impact measurement framework in response to these three interlocked perspectives of understanding impact at ygap, we keep the following considerations in mind:

Simplicity – We recognise that we are a lean organisation, working with early-stage ventures who are also running lean. This often means the resources available for data collection and reporting are limited. Therefore, we want to make sure that the data we are asking of ourselves and of our ventures are the most pertinent metrics that will help us understand growth patterns and program effectiveness. Where possible, we want to be asking for the minimum amount of data in order to avoid reporting fatigue and creating extra burden on our portfolio ventures. This is especially relevant in times of crisis as ventures are already stretched.

Global trends – In order to aggregate an amount of data across all our programs to see some global patterns and overall trends of ygap at large, we need some level of uniformity in the MEL frameworks created across programs. For the resiliency programs we are running in light of COVID-19, the main indicators include the rate of venture survival during and after our support program and whether the impacts to revenue and staff are minimised or maintained.

Venture-specific success – Aside from tracking overall ygap trends, specific programs may identify and monitor custom metrics based on the needs they’re seeing in their ventures. A cohort of ventures may be at very different stages of their start-up journey, and we recognise that what success means for one venture could look very different to the next, and therefore what is successful support is also different. Always trying to improve, we are trialling this type of tailored, venture-specific MEL framework with our ygap South African Re-Accelerator Program, after our South African team identified the ventures they were working with had varying needs of support, with some needing to create better processes within their operations, and others requiring advice on how to access the right type of funding for their business pivot. We will be taking on more of a story-telling approach with our evaluation, drawing from monitoring techniques such as Most Significant Change.

External and internal communications – Lastly, we differentiate between what data we share with stakeholders and the wider public in order to showcase the work we do with our ventures, and what data is for our own internal use, to evaluate the effectiveness of our programs, identify changes we need to make, learn and ultimately improve as an organisation. 

Putting these principles into practice, this is the organisational MEL Framework we’ve put in place to evaluate the effectiveness of our COVID-19 Resiliency Programs:

Our approach to MEL has come a long way and the journey will continue on for time to come. An effective MEL strategy is an evolving art that needs to be adapted with every program and involve stakeholders as much as possible. We are learning heaps along the way and look forward to sharing with you what insights we find through our Re-Accelerator Programs.

– Hedda Ngan, Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning (MEL) Officer, ygap