The GSMA Innovation Fund for Humanitarian Challenges is open for applications

We are pleased to announce the launch of the GSMA Innovation Fund for Humanitarian Challenges. As global humanitarian needs continue to rise, the Fund will leverage our proven innovation fund model to provide grants as well as additional non-financial and technical support to for-profit small and growing enterprises, including start-ups, that leverage mobile and digital technology to pilot and scale solutions that address humanitarian challenges in low- and middle-income countries. The specific objective of this new Fund is to test innovative use cases, partnerships, and business models that can improve access to sustainable digital-enabled solutions for those who are affected by – or vulnerable to – humanitarian challenges.  

With over 350 million people worldwide requiring humanitarian assistance – a number that is set to continue growing – now, more than ever, we are seeing the catalytic impact that funding localised innovation can have in helping support the development of solutions to local humanitarian challenges. Indeed, research has shown that innovations can be scalable and more sustainable in the long run when designed by those affected by the humanitarian challenges they themselves face.   

While the GSMA’s humanitarian-focused innovation funds to date have supported primarily non-profit and non-government organisation’s innovations, we believe that a focus on for-profit small and growing enterprises for this Fund will allow us to support a new range of humanitarian innovations; leverage the GSMA’s unique expertise in enabling public-private partnerships; and generate and share insights and evidence from these innovations to benefit crisis-affected communities, the humanitarian sector, and digital and mobile industry stakeholders.  

Thanks to our long-standing partnership with the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), selected organisations will be eligible to a full support package including grant funding of up to £250,000; tailored technical assistance; facilitation of relationships with mobile operators and public sector organisations; peer learning sessions; and opportunities to increase their visibility to potential investors and partners through GSMA’s events, publications, and online presence. For a full view of eligibility criteria, package components and application process, please read our Terms and Conditions.  

The Fund is particularly interested in solutions that use digital technology, especially mobile, which:   

  • Prevent and minimise the impact of humanitarian crises through preparedness and early warning. This can be for challenges such as natural hazards or drivers of food insecurity such as extreme weather or droughts.  
  • Improve preparedness and response to humanitarian challenges using emerging tech-enabled solutions including AI. 
  • Respond to the needs of crisis-affected populations, including internally displaced persons and refugees, through access to humanitarian assistance, services, and life-saving information.  
  • Are existing innovations that can be adapted or replicated in a new context to respond to a humanitarian challenge.   

We look forward to receiving your applications and working with the organisations to be selected through our rigorous selection process. For more information about the Fund requirements and application process, please click here.   

Professor Charlotte Watts, Chief Scientific Adviser and Director for Research and Evidence at the FCDO said: we look forward to supporting a new cohort of innovators who are committed to addressing difficult humanitarian challenges. Through our partnership with the GSMA we have supported a number of innovative solutions to development challenges. I am confident that this latest round will produce innovative models and technologies that can build greater resilience to and enable swifter action in response to the many crises that the world faces today.”

This initiative is currently funded by UK International Development from the UK government and is supported by the GSMA and its members.
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