GSMA’s Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation Fund: Grantee portfolio 2017-2022

We are delighted to publish the ‘GSMA Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation Fund Portfolio 2017 – 2022’, a report detailing each of the exciting and impactful projects to have received funding and support from the M4H Innovation Fund* since its inception in 2017.

When we started planning to provide innovation funding to help catalyse mobile-enabled solutions to humanitarian challenges, back in 2016 with the support of the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), we weren’t sure exactly what we would find. 688 applications later, 22 teams have leveraged over £6 million in GSMA funding and the technical support of the M4H programme to implement, iterate, learn and scale their solutions in over 27 countries globally. To date more than three million people have benefitted from these solutions and this number continues to grow as organisations further roll-out, replicate and mainstream their innovations. Further testament to the potential of these innovations; recipients of GSMA M4H grants have leveraged an additional £9 million in follow-on funding and investments.

Support has been provided to highly technical solutions, as well as to those repurposing existing technologies. Social enterprises have utilised grant funding to scale up their activities and impact, and INGOs have built the case internally to mainstream digital solutions. Projects have improved access to essential services in refugee camp settings, increased availability of critical protection information in complex environments, and developed services aimed at building resilience and coping capacities. Whilst this means that the portfolio includes a breadth of solutions, they are united in their core aim; to leverage mobile-enabled solutions to address humanitarian challenges, and improve the lives of individuals impacted by these crises.

In addition to the direct impact that these solutions have, the lessons and evidence that they generate are of critical importance to the wider humanitarian and technology sectors, providing insights into the ways in which organisations can and are utilising mobile and digital technologies to transform humanitarian action. Insights from the portfolio help to answer the key questions of the M4H programme, by identifying sustainable business models, testing new forms of partnership between the humanitarian and private sector, and providing a growing understanding of how to best support pathways to scale for mobile-enabled solutions.

Within the report you will find a summary of each of the grant projects, as they were conceptualised at their launch. Further information about the impact, pivots, key lessons and future plans for scaling of these projects are being published as they become available, and can be found on the GSMA M4H resource page. Robust monitoring and evaluation studies run alongside each grant project, the outputs of which will also be made available. Our ask to you is that where projects are of particular interest to you or your organisation, you to reach out to the innovators to engage, learn, collaborate, and provide support. It is through these actions that we will maximise the full potential of these innovations. Details of how to reach individual projects can be found on the GSMA Innovation Fund grantee portfolio.   

Myself and colleagues on the GSMA M4H programme, past and present, thank the organisations, teams, individuals and communities who have worked to develop and implement these mobile-enabled solutions. They have shown great perseverance in the face of challenges, not least the COVID-19 pandemic, and we look forward to continuing to watch as their journey’s to scale and replication continue. Where we can, we also look forward to continuing to provide support and guidance, and importantly to disseminating evidence of impact and insights for the benefit of the wider sector. 

As the scale of humanitarian need increases, innovative solutions, innovative partnerships and innovative thinking will increasingly be needed to meet this growing demand. We hope that solutions within the M4H portfolio demonstrate what is possible, and provide the foundation for future efforts to tackle humanitarian challenges.  

* The mission of the GSMA Mobile for Humanitarian (M4H) Innovation programme is to accelerate the delivery and impact of humanitarian assistance enabled by mobile and digital technology. Central to achieving this goal is the M4H Innovation Fund, which with the support and partnership of the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO – UKaid) provides catalytic funding and technical support to innovative solutions aiming to address challenges faced during humanitarian emergencies; from sudden-onset disasters to protracted-emergencies and forced displacement.

This initiative is currently funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), and supported by the GSMA and its members.
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