Etienne Salborn - Founder of SINA (Social Innovation Academy)


Learning through experience and encouraging a plurality of outcomes amongst students is something that both SINA and ThoughtBox have in common, empowering students to think for themselves. The need to find new solutions rather than learning information is behind our students’ focus and unlearning is a focus that unites the work that we are doing and the ethos embedded in ThoughtBox’s practice. 

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German by blood and Ugandan by heart, Etienne Salborn is a changemaker. After founding Jangu e.V. in 2007 focusing on an educational support of orphans, he went a step further and started the Social Innovation Academy (SINA) in 2013 - a self-organized eco-system transforming disadvantaged youth into social entrepreneurs.

The Social Innovation Academy (SINA) educates disadvantaged youth in Uganda to become job creators and social entrepreneurs with the ability to turn challenges into solutions.

A self-organized and “freesponsible” approach lets the scholars learn the skills needed for their own enterprises by taking up responsibilities within SINA. Scholars start to understand and value their past as a strength, rather than a subject of shame, and unleash their potentials to create social enterprises with positive impact on the environment and society.

Many independent social enterprises have emerged since the foundation of SINA, and the model of learning and creation has spread into the nearby Nakivale Refugee Settlement.

Through a process of self-organization and with very little running costs, refugees within this camp are creating their own jobs and dignified futures by themselves. More teams are currently bringing the SINA model into their refugee communities, amongst them the world's largest refugee camp “Bidi Bidi”, currently home to over 300,000 people.