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By Mary Roach

MECS Awards First Round of Innovation Fund Grants

MECS Awards First Round of Innovation Fund Grants

It is our pleasure to announce the 1st Round recipients of the MECS Innovation Grant Fund.

Earlier this year we launched the GSMA’s MECS Innovation Grant Fund with the support of the UK Government. Our goal, to award  £2.4M in grants to organisations trialling and developing innovations that improve access to energy and water to underserved communities by leveraging mobile technology and infrastructure.

We have been overwhelmed with the response to our calls for applications, receiving a total of 200 concept notes from across the globe. The positive response to the MECS Innovation Grant Fund indicates the growing acceptance of the role that mobile technology can play as an enabler to sustainable community services and infrastructure and signals the need for more risk capital to develop commercially viable models.

MECS Innovation Fund Grantees:

Development Workshop Angola and SeeSaw – Angola

Development Workshop Angola, in partnership with SeeSaw, will trial a suite of mobile enabled tools to evaluate the effectiveness of peri-urban water delivery for the Luanda Water Company (EPAL). The seed grant will test the use of mobile technology to report service delivery issues in informal settlements and whether the suggested business model of field level generated data is valuable enough that local organisations self-finance the system beyond the pilot stage.

M-KOPA – Kenya

M-KOPA, in partnership with Safaricom, will introduce a new pay-as-you-go solar product to the Kenyan market targeted at small entrepreneurs. The market validation grant tests whether the repayment behaviours of the target customers are strong enough to support further credit-based energy financing for SMEs.

Mobisol – Rwanda

Mobisol, in partnership with MTN Rwanda, will test the introduction of prepaid solar home systems into a new market, Rwanda, using MTN Mobile Money for the repayment of monthly instalments. The market validation grant seeks to trial the acceptance of prepaid solar products by entrepreneurs in Rwanda, who base their business case on the productive use of these products. The impact on mobile money adoption and airtime usage will also be monitored.

Portland State and Living Water International – Rwanda

Portland State University, working in partnership with Living Water International (LWI), and with support from MTN Rwanda and the Government of Rwanda will conduct a national level roll out of Machine-to-Machine enabled cellular reporting sensors on LWI managed hand pumps. The seed grant will study if sensors are able to improve the cost effectiveness of delivering water through reducing operational downtime across hand pump programs.

Upcoming Webinars: Sector Trends

We will be hosting a series of webinars to share our insights from the pool of concept notes we received in early December. Please register your interest in attending the webinar by emailing us at and we will get back to you with more details.

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