GSMA Innovation Fund Bootcamp 2023

In October 2023, the GSMA Innovation Fund hosted a series of workshops that provided a platform for cross-learning, gaining insights through thematic workshops and networking with each other and different funding organisations. The 1.5-day bootcamp was also an opportunity for current grantees to meet alumni and the GSMA team to learn more about how we support them during and after the grant period.

This year’s bootcamp was attended by start-ups and non-profit organisations from our ClimateTech, AssistiveTech and Humanitarian Innovation cohorts.

Aquarech, ATEC, BENAA, CoAmana, Crop2Cash, GeoKrishi, Hello Tractor, Lersha

Assistive Tech
Signs Media Kenya Limited
Humanitarian Action
ActionAid, BiS, Naxa, People in Need, Rumsan, Synnefa, TAHMO, Tearfund  

Read here for more information about our latest Humanitarian Round.

Building Synergies

Once the attendees had the chance to introduce themselves and share their highlights and success stories, there was a session on building synergies with mobile operators. There are several obstacles to forging partnerships with mobile operators, such as the time it takes from an initial meeting to securing a partnership, a general lack of formal processes, and the inability to gather information.

Start-up founders Michael Ogundare (CEO and founder of Crop2Cash in Nigeria) and Luke Muleka (MD and founder of Signs Media in Kenya) shared their experiences in partnering with mobile operators, specifically regarding integration of their apps within mobile operator super-apps. Michael shared that he was able to meet MTN at MWC Kigali in 2022, and they were able to integrate their Crop2Cash app into MTN’s Ayoba app within 2 months which is a remarkable turnaround, while  Luke shared that M-PESA enabled wallets was Signs Media’s first collaboration, and that it was a challenge to address security features, which required a redesign.

In September 2023, Signs Media and Safaricom announced the launch of the sign language interpretation mini app assistALL on Safaricom’s M-PESA app. This exciting development means that the assistALL app will now be accessible to over 31 million Safaricom M-PESA subscribers. This workshop covered the wide range of partnerships that can be created, and there was an interactive session to help grantees identify exactly what they need from mobile operators, and what it is they have to offer mobile operators.

Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation

For the latest cohort of Humanitarian grantees, we had an introductory session highlighting  the work of the Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation (M4H) team. The focus was on our humanitarian objectives, core principles and areas of support that the team can offer grantees throughout funding cycle.
An additional session provided the new grantee cohort a walkthrough of our Monitoring and Evaluation (MEL) objectives and processes. The session ran through how our team will help support to co-develop MEL frameworks and provide guidance and technical assistance during project implementation.

Climate resilience and adaptation

The carbon credits session provided a deep dive into the accreditation process, breaking down the voluntary carbon markets and accreditation/Carbon Asset development process. Conducted by a carbon markets expert, this session was key in equipping the grantees with information they need to venture into the carbon markets and credits space as an additional source of revenue.

Following that was a session on investing in Climate resilience and adaptation, which brought together key stakeholders from the finance sector and climate resilience and adaptation organisations, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA) and MasterCard. The session focused on exploring opportunities for collaboration and partnership (in terms of financing and technical assistance) with the various organisations, the need for creating an enabling environment to support climate resilience start-ups, funding trends and necessary adjustments by start-ups to qualify for funding in the changing times. The session provided the opportunity to connect attendees to key stakeholders and prepare them to engage with multilateral and commercial financial institutions for additional financing.

Financial Reporting 101

This session was an overview of the compliance guidelines related to grant management, including financial management and relevant safeguarding topics. For this year’s session, we focused on tips for effective grant management, and it included a deep dive into fraud detection and prevention. While compliance may seem painful, it is essential, and this session helped our grantees demystify compliance.

Investor networking

The final session of the bootcamp was an investor speed dating session that brought together social enterprises, non-profit organisations, investors, funders and regulators to build meaningful connections. The objective of the session was to connect stakeholders who can learn and add value to each other. The innovation fund grantees (both for profit and non-profit) had the opportunity to pitch their solutions to the investors and funders and get valuable feedback, insights and connections to funding opportunities.

A special thank you to the over 20 investors and funders who joined us. This included: the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Village Capital, the Rwanda Innovation Fund, Madica, Angaza Capital, UNDP, and others.


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