The newly branded Mobile for Development Utilities programme, builds on the early success of the first phase of the programme under the Mobile Enabled Community Services (MECS) banner, through which £2.4M in grants were awarded across Sub-Saharan Africa and Developing Asia.

With the support of the UK Government, the Mobile for Development Utilities Innovation Fund will provide up to an additional £3.2M in grants. The specific objectives of the Innovation fund are to:

  • Accelerate efforts using mobile technology to enable improved or increased access to energy, water and/or sanitation services for underserved communities
  • Identify innovative business models that can support mobile innovations for energy, water and sanitation services
  • Generate knowledge about the application of mobile enabled services which can be shared with the development community and mobile industry
  • Stimulate productive partnerships between mobile operators/tower companies and energy providers, water providers, sanitation service providers, utilities, NGOs, entrepreneurs and academics to achieve these objectives at scale


Seed Grants:

  • to support the research and development of early stage innovations using mobile to support access to sustainable energy and water provision
  • up to £150k in funding, 25% of total project cost matched by grantee, with the potential for staged funding if necessary

Market Validation Grants:

  • to support partnerships between mobile network operators and/or tower companies with community service providers to trial at scale promising mobile technologies and business models that have the potential to increase or improve access to water or energy services to underserved communities
  • up to £300k in funding, 50% of total project cost matched by grantee

Utilities Partnership Grants:

  • to support partnerships between a solution provider/innovator and a utility and/or a government agency to develop and trial promising models that use mobile to increase or improve access to energy, water and sanitation services to underserved communities in urban or peri-urban areas
  • up to £200k in funding, 50% of total project cost matched by grantee

Application Process

  • A two stage process starting with the submission of a concept note. Successful candidates will then be asked to submit a full application. Please review the ‘Documents’ section below to select the correct documentation required for your application.
  • Funding decisions are made on a competitive, deadline-driven basis by an independent assessment panel. Only the best applications will receive funding
  • Technical assistance (TA) provided at the discretion of the Mobile for Development Utilities Programme to support the development of applications, and implementation of projects. The type and extent of TA will be agreed between the applicant and the Mobile for Development Utilities Team at the application stage

Important dates:

First Round:

  • Concept notes due December 7th, 2014
  • For successful organisations that pass through to the 2nd stage, decisions on funding are expected in April 2015

2nd Round:

  • Concept notes due March 29th, 2015. 
  • For successful organisations that pass through to the 2nd stage, decisions on funding are expected in July 2015

3rd Round: pending available funds

Please note that the deadline for submission of Concept Notes for the 2nd round of the Mobile for Development Utilities Innovation Fund has now passed.


Seed Grant Term Sheet – 20141029

Market Validation Term Sheet – 20141029

Utility Partnership Term Sheet – 20141029

Seed Grant Concept Note Form – 20141029

Market Validation Concept Note Form – 20141029

Utility Partnership Concept Note Form – 20141029

Frequently Asked Questions about the Innovation Fund Grants – 20141029

Concept Note Clinics

The GSMA Mobile for Development Utilities team can provide you feedback on your concept note prior to the due date. To schedule a 30-minute “Concept Note Clinic” please email us at

Some applicants will want us to review their draft concept notes others will want to discuss the pros and cons of the ideas they are considering to put forward. We will do our best to provide feedback on:

  • The eligibility of the idea
  • Where an idea can be strengthened

Below is a list of actions you should take prior to our meeting to get the most out of the feedback:

  • Review the Term Sheets of the Grants and FAQ we have posted on this page
  • Ensure that you clearly articulate the following:
    • The use of mobile (ie mobile channel)
    • The use and added value of the grant funds : what can you do because of this funding that you couldn’t do before
    • What is innovative about this concept note
    • Why you can’t get commercial funding for this concept

For further information please contact

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