Accelerating Toward the SDGs, one Smart Start at a Time

Today, Bill and Melinda Gates awarded PSI’s flagship youth-powered sexual and reproductive health (SRH) program in Ethiopia, Adolescents 360’s Smart Start, the distinction of being one of three 2019 Accelerators.

The recognition – delivered during the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Goalkeepers event in NYC  – reinforces that to make contraception valuable and accessible for the hardest-to-reach consumers, now is the time to get bold, and to reimagine our approach with and for the young people we serve.

In Ethiopia, 1 in 2 girls will marry by the age of 18. 4 in 5 will have had their first baby by age 20 before they discuss desired family size and understand the financial implications of having a baby before they are ready.

Addressing this reality remains a priority.

Developed alongside Ethiopian young people within PSI’s Adolescents 360, Smart Start introduces targeted financial messaging to support rural girls aged 15-19 and their husbands to plan for the families, and lives, that they desire.

In the project’s next phase – and through an additional $12 million investment from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and PSI’s initial MaverickNext fellows – the government of Ethiopia will work to integrate Smart Start at scale within the nation’s Health Extension Program. Learnings and insights from Smart Start are also being applied in Northern Nigeria and Kenya with further investment from Gates Philanthropy Partners and a second group of MaverickNext fellows.

This is impact at scale.

Among our key highlights:

  • In the 19 months since implementation, more than 25,000 married girls aged 15-19 have voluntarily adopted modern contraception through Smart Start.
  • And by 2024, we’ll have reached 500,000 girls with contraception.
  • Smart Start proves that to build a better future for all, we must listen to girls – their dreams, their lives, and their choices.

Now is the time to invest in PSI’s youth-powered solutions like Smart Start. Are you with us?

To partner with Smart Start or to get more information, email SRH@psi.org.