The Safe YOU journey began in 2018 when the Enterprise Incubator Foundation, a technology business incubator and IT development agency, won the World Bank Group and Sexual Violence Initiative ‘Development Marketplace for Innovation in GBV Prevention and Response’ award for Geeks against GBV project. Following this the winners, a women-led team, researched and designed the concept of the Safe YOU application.
“After weeks of technical development, translations, and design we successfully launched the app, giving our Georgian partners a segregated database to manage their content–including forum posts, and support service providers which, each country manages by a locally licensed partner,” explains social entrepreneur Mariam Torosyan, project team leader that developed the mobile solution, and Founder/CEO of the Impact Innovations Institute (IMIN) which launched Safe YOU in 2020.
Torosyan is proud to be managing a team of four women, ages 22-32. With a background in Human Rights Law and Anthropology, she is a Lecturer of Healthcare Law at Armenia’s Yerevan State Medical University.
Launching amidst a pandemic, and months prior to the 44-day war with neighboring Azerbaijan, challenged funding and promotion of the app in Armenia. The app already has over 500 users in Armenia–ages 20 to 35–and seven consultants. Torosyan has established cooperation with the World Bank and UNICEF and is supported by UNFPA and EU offices of Armenia. Safe YOU plans to target adolescent girls and increase its user base in Armenia to over 100,000 by early next year.
Launched in Armenia in May 2020, Safe YOU scaled to Georgia in July with Union Sapari as its first implementing partner. Amidst the pandemic that spiked GBV incidents, the app was a timely resolve–and now has 5,000 active users and 17 consultants in Georgia.
Users can simply download the free app with verification linked to their cellphone number, last name, and a nickname. Internet connectivity is needed, but Safe YOU covers SMS message costs.
The app’s ‘safe space’ allows anonymous engagement in peer-to-peer discussions and Forums; and users can seek consultations, ask questions, or get urgent help from fully vetted and verified professionals as psychologists, doctors, and lawyers–in curated forums. NGOs can also endorse consultants or use the mobile app to apply to become consultants.
Current negotiations between Safe YOU and several governmental and non-governmental organizations in the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa will potentially lead to the launch of the app in over five countries this year–and an additional 10 in 2022.
“We believe this app will also help the recently displaced Armenian women in the post-war crisis, and women in other countries where we hope to expand and scale this solution,” says Torosyan.