FAQs – GSMA Innovation Fund for Anticipatory Humanitarian Action

The GSMA Innovation Fund for Anticipatory Humanitarian Action (‘the Fund’) will provide grants and additional support to organisations that leverage digital technology, especially mobile, to deliver solutions that anticipate potential humanitarian impacts and enable effective early response. These FAQs attempt to clarify some of the common questions that arise. However, to access all the details regarding the Fund please consult the Terms and Conditions (T&Cs). 

What is the objective of the Fund?

The objective of the Fund is to test and generate insights from innovative use-cases, partnerships and business models across selected geographies, to improve the sustainability and scalability of digital-enabled solutions for those vulnerable to, or affected by, humanitarian crises. 

The grant projects must seek to demonstrate:  

  • How mobile-enabled technology can be innovatively applied to support communities to anticipate and prepare for crises   
  • How mobile-enabled technology can be used to make anticipatory action ‘smarter’ (by using feedback, learning and adapting to deliver a more targeted response)  
  • How anticipating crises through technology can inform more timely humanitarian responses  
  • How anticipatory humanitarian mobile-enabled solutions can be inclusive and widespread   

For more details, please refer to pages 1 and 2 of the T&Cs. 

What is an 'anticipatory action' solution?

We define ‘anticipatory action’ as solutions which: 

  • Prevent and minimise the impact of humanitarian crises;  
  • Improve preparedness for sudden-onset crises; 
  • Enable dignified and inclusive communication and assistance; and 
  • Anticipate incidence and impacts of crises and enable earlier and more effective responses. 

For a more detailed definition, please consult the ‘REAP Early Action Glossary of Terms: 2022 Edition’ publication (page 7)

What kind of anticipatory action solutions are you looking for?


Given the broad and far-reaching potential of anticipatory action, we expect to see a diverse range of solutions including but not limited to: 

  • Pre-Positioning and Early Deployment Activities  (for example, a mobile-enabled system that triggers the payment of support when a threshold of risk is passed, such as a mobile cash payments sent to families living in a flood plain when the river level passes 2 metre mark indicating a forthcoming flood) 
  • Early Action, preparedness & resilience-building focussing on communities vulnerable to and/or at risk from crises (for example, providing data generated by mobile to enable a real-time picture of the mobility and movement of people impacted by crises, helping decision makers plan interventions in advance by understanding and assessing scale and location of displaced people)  
  • Dissemination of Early Warning Messages, focussing on the adaptation of existing early warning systems that enhances inclusion of different groups (for example, ensuring that persons with disabilities are successfully reached and their needs are catered for when distributing an earthquake early warning message)  
  •  Systems that will enhance communication between organisations and affected communities, anticipating the increased demand and need for information (for example two-way communication channels between at-risk populations and humanitarian organisations so communities impacted can report damage caused by a tsunami and organisations can actively response in a timely manner)   

What level of project maturity are you looking for?

Through the Fund, the GSMA Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation aims to: 

  • Test innovative use-cases, partnerships and business models in selected geographies; and 
  •  generate and share insights and evidence from these innovations to benefit humanitarian and mobile industry stakeholders. 

The GSMA will assess all stages of product development, but preference will be given to projects/solutions that have already been successfully piloted and tested with users. 

Will the Fund support the development of prototyping of new hardware solutions

The Fund will not support the development or prototyping of any new hardware solutions. Where there is a proposal to use existing hardware solutions (e.g. weather monitoring equipment) as part of the project, applicants must be able to clearly demonstrate that all required approvals for wide scale importation and use of the hardware exist prior to grant execution.  In instances where there is assembly of completed pre-existing, previously used or off the shelf hardware components this may be considered on a case-by-case basis by the GSMA. Applicants will need to show that hardware components have been sufficiently tested, deployed in the field and/or rolled out to users with positive results. 

The GSMA will assess the following with regards to hardware viability: 

  • The stage of hardware development for the product/solution. 
  • Time it takes to fully complete hardware development from start to finish. 
  • Complexity of the product/hardware development. 
  • Procurement assessment: Evaluate potential supply chain challenges in acquiring hardware components. This includes availability of hardware components. 

If an innovation meets the eligibility criteria, but addressed food systems, will it be considered?



In countries where a humanitarian crisis has political implications, what are the expectations when it comes to working with local authorities?

If a project works closely with government or local authorities, we would look for a consistent and well-thought-out plan of engagement to be presented that demonstrates a means of managing complex relationships.

What project countries are ineligible for the Innovation Fund?


Projects in the following countries are NOT eligible for funding: Afghanistan, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Myanmar, Nicaragua, North Korea, Syria, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Yemen. 

If an organisation is listed as a downstream partner on one application, can that organisation also submit an application as the lead organization in another application?



Who can and can't apply for funding?

Please refer to the T&Cs for the full details on the types of organisations the Fund is looking to support and the eligibility criteria for applying for funding. 

If you have been previously awarded a grant by the GSMA or Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) are you still eligible for this grant?

Yes, but with the following conditions: 

  • If you have previously received a grant from GSMA or FCDO, you will need to demonstrate the additionality of the requested funding compared to the previous one (e.g. in terms of new product development, new insight generation). 
  • GSMA grantees are eligible to apply for additional funding once they have successfully completed their existing grants. 

Is help available to assist with navigating national regulatory requirements that apply to our project?

Applicants must be fully compliant with relevant business licensing, taxation, employee, and other regulations in all applicable countries of grant project operation.

How do you define for-profit start-ups, small to medium enterprises and social enterprises?


For-profit start-ups, small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and social enterprises with up to 250 employees that have generated revenue from sales and have significant potential and ambition for growth. To be eligible, organisations must have active users and commercial revenue (users and revenue from any products or services offered by the organisation) in at least one eligible country (see T&Cs).   

Can non-profit organisations including NGOs, humanitarian agencies and social enteprises apply for funding?

Yes. Non-profit organisations including non-governmental organisations (NGOs) either international or local; humanitarian agencies and social enterprises can apply for funding. 

Please note however that the Fund does not allow any indirect costs as part of grants. In addition, a maximum of 10% grant funds can be allocated to direct overhead costs for funded projects. 

Can governments and government-owned or appointed agencies, United Nations (UN) agencies, universities or academic organisations apply for funding?

While the Fund highly encourages partnerships with these entities, they will not be directly eligible to apply or receive grant funding. 

Are enablers like incubators and accelerators eligible to apply?

No. Incubators and accelerators are not eligible to apply for funding. We welcome their support to recommend eligible start-ups in their current or past cohorts to apply directly.

Can Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) apply to the fund?

No. MNOs are not eligible to apply for funding.  Applications from eligible organisations working in partnership with MNOs are welcomed and encouraged.

Can a consortium apply to the fund?

 Applicants cannot apply as a consortium. Only one organisation can apply for funding and become a grantee. However, an applicant can have downstream partners – see the GSMA downstream partners’ policy – who have a role in the grant project implementation, and there is space on the application form to specify these partners.   

It is important that at the proposal stage the GSMA has full sight of all downstream partners to ensure that the applicant has (or plans to) appropriately procure, undertake satisfactory due diligence checks and properly contract them. This is because the GSMA is required to communicate full and accurate information about project delivery chains to its donors and ensure that an appropriate level of scrutiny and oversight is applied to all organisations in those delivery chains. 

Is there a requirement for how long an organisation should be registered as a legal entity prior to applying?

There is no requirement on how long the applicant needs to have been registered as a legal entity. The Fund will consider applications from organisations that are in early stages of operations so long as they are able meet all eligibility requirements listed in the Terms and Conditions document.  

How do we estimate how much impact we will have for the project?

Through the grant application process, applicants must ensure that their proposal clearly links to increased capacity to adapt and anticipate and respond to humanitarian crises, delivering outcomes for affected communities. 

We expect all applicants to be both realistic and honest when they disclose the market potential or number of people they plan to reach. You will be asked to demonstrate (within reason) how you estimated the impact number you submit and how you will measure them throughout the life of the grant. If there are significant discrepancies between the pitch and proposal stages (regarding impact numbers), it may result in the application being removed from the process.  

 During application, and before being awarded a grant, applicants will set and agree targets in collaboration with the GSMA, learning partners and the Fund Manager. 

What does it mean to ‘demonstrate the willingness and potential to form strategic partnerships with humanitarian organisations, mobile operators and/or technology organisations’?

The Fund is especially interested in understanding how you are currently working or have the potential to work with a mobile operator, or other relevant partners, in your market during and after the grant project. We encourage you to share details of your current or planned partner engagement in your application.  

What kinds of partnerships are encouraged, and what evidence should we provide for these partnerships? 

The Fund encourages applicants to have meaningful partnerships with relevant local stakeholders (e.g. community-based organisations) to deliver the project on the ground. Also, applications will need to be able to demonstrate the willingness and potential to form strategic partnerships with, humanitarian organisations, mobile operators and/or technology organisations.  

Does the grant funding have to be used for a project targeting just one country or can it be used for a project across an entire region?

The Fund is open to applications with projects focusing on one single market or across multiple markets (where eligibility criteria is met for each market).  

N.B. Applications for projects in multiple markets will need to demonstrate that the projects can be effectively managed and completed within 15-18 months. If there are concerns about the feasibility of managing multiple markets, applicants may be advised to prioritise one market.   

The applicant must apply for funding for a project in one or more of the eligible countries (as set out in the T&Cs).  

How should we decide the grant amount we are asking for during the pitch stage?

We require applicants to be realistic and honest with grant requests as you will have to demonstrate how you will spend the money efficiently. The amount requested should correlate with what you need to deliver the solution you want the GSMA to fund (the project). Grant funding will not be used for costs that do not have a direct link to the project you are pitching.   

 If a project progresses from the pitch stage to the proposal stage, both the project and financial proposal will be scrutinised to ensure the applicant can justify the spending of grant funding requested and ensuring value for money for donors. In the majority of cases, where you have clearly justified the amount, the Fund Panel will approve the amount requested, but this is not always the case.  

If we apply for £100,000 at the pitch stage, is this the amount that we will receive from the Fund if we are awarded a grant or could the amount we receive be lower?


Applicants that are shortlisted at the pitch stage will be invited to submit a full proposal with a budget. The budget and activities will be reviewed to ensure all spend is commensurate with the objectives of the Fund and demonstrate good use of donor funds.  

Is matched funding mandatory and what counts as a match funding contribution? 

Yes, match funding contribution is mandatory, as this demonstrates interest and trust from the wider investor community. Requirements include: 

  • Yes, match funding contribution is mandatory, as this demonstrates interest and trust from the wider investor community. Requirements include:  
  • Applicants must provide a match funding contribution of at least 25% of requested grant amount between £100,000 to £150,000.  
  • Applicants must provide a match funding contribution of at least 50% of requested grant amount between £150,001 to £250,000.  
  • Match funding contributions must be used towards the proposed project and spent in full during the 15-to-18-month project cycle.  
  • Match funding contributions can be made ‘in-cash’ and/or ‘in-kind’. In-kind (vs in-cash) match funding is limited to 50% of the total required match amount.   
  • Matching contribution cannot be from existing funding from FCDO.  
  • For more details and examples of what constitutes ‘in-cash’ or ‘in-kind’, please refer to the T&Cs.  

Acceptance of match funding is subject to approval by the Fund. 

Does the specific partner that will be contributing to the match funding have to be decided and secured before pitch submission? Or can that be confirmed later?

If a project proceeds to the proposal stage, the applicant will be required to provide evidence that the match funding contribution has been secured or will be secured, through proof of revenues for internal sourcing and/or proof of external sourcing, prior to the Fund Panel. Failure to provide this evidence may mean the proposal will not be presented to the Fund Panel. Please refer to the T&Cs for examples of evidence. 

What are 'in kind' match contributions?

Please see page 7 of the Terms and Conditions document for a definition and examples of in-kind contributions.  

To what degree does match funding need to be confirmed at the proposal stage?

When projects are being shortlisted and reviewed by the fund panel in May 2023, match funding must be more than a potential additional source of funding for the project, it must be confirmed. Therefore, any potential match funding listed in the pitch proposal must be confirmed once the full proposal is submitted. 

What is the timeline of the fund, following the closing date?

Shortlisted applicants will be informed if they are progressing to the full proposal stage by 27th February 2023. They will then have until 12th May 2023 to submit their full proposal with support from the GSMA. They will undergo a due diligence assessment and, potentially, a field visit from the GSMA. A fund panel will decide which projects to award grants to in June 2023 and from there, contracts will be exchanged with successful applicants (grantees). Grantees will be publicly announced in October 2023 at which time projects will also commence.

Can I edit my application once it has been submitted?

Applications cannot be edited once they have been submitted. Applications cannot be submitted after the deadline of 23.59 GMT on 19th January 2023 and any drafts including personal details will be deleted after this time.  

Can I submit more than one application for projects?


Multiple submissions for the same project are not permitted. In cases where this occurs, the first submission will be reviewed if it is eligible and all duplicate submissions will be deemed ineligible and not reviewed.  

Can I speak with someone personally if I still have questions?

For any enquiries or questions, you can email GSMAIF@gsma.com. Please expect a response within 2-3 working days. Questions received after 17th January 2023 will not be answered.