FAQs – GSMA Innovation Fund for Climate Resilience and Adaptation 2.0

The GSMA Innovation Fund for Climate Resilience and Adaptation 2.0 supports innovative digital solutions with positive socio-economic and environmental impact in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs). We believe digital solutions have the power to sustainably reduce inequalities within our world by connecting everyone and everything to a better future.

The FAQs attempt to clarify some of the common questions applicants raise. However, to get the full overview of the Fund we recommend you read the Terms and Conditions (T&Cs).

Fund objectives

What is the objective of the Fund?

The objective of the Fund is to test innovative use-cases, partnerships and business models in selected geographies (see section 5 of the Terms and Conditions) to improve sustainability and scalability of digital enabled solutions that make a positive impact on low-income populations and those who are most vulnerable to current or future climate risks. The Fund will also strive to support solutions that contribute to climate resilience through activities that strengthen biodiversity.

For more details, please refer to theTerms and Conditions (T&Cs).

What is a ‘climate resilience and adaptation’ solution?

We define ‘climate resilience and adaptation solutions’ as solutions that build the capacities of individuals, communities or institutions to:

  • Adapt to multiple, long-term and future climate change risks;
  • Anticipate and reduce the impact of climate variability and extremes through preparedness and, planning; and/or
  • Absorb [i.e. face and manage] adverse conditions, emergencies or disasters.

What kind of climate resilience and adaptation solutions are you looking for?

Given the broad and far-reaching impact of climate change and biodiversity deterioration, we expect to see a diverse range of resilience and adaptation solutions from start-ups and small and growing enterprises in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) that use innovative digital technology, especially mobile, to create a more resilient future where communities can adapt to, anticipate and absorb climate shocks. A higher priority will be given to applications focusing on one or more of the following:

  • Digital solutions improving climate resilience and adaptation and focusing on vulnerable populations and ecosystems based in coastal areas, small islands, or urban settings.
  • Digital solutions tackling challenges posed by increasingly frequent extreme weather events such as extreme drought, flooding, high winds, wildfire and higher risks of land slips and erosion etc. (with the exclusion of early warning systems)
  • Digital solutions focused on:
    a. Nature-based solutions
    i. Regenerative agriculture
    ii. Sustainable forests, coastal areas and wetlands that strengthen biodiversity
  • b. Sustainable consumption and production
    i. Reduced food loss and waste
    ii. Sustainable fisheries that strengthen biodiversity
    iii. Air pollution management

Are climate change mitigation projects eligible?

While some resilience and adaptation solutions will have climate change mitigation benefits, projects with a sole and specific focus on only climate mitigation (reducing and avoiding emissions) are not eligible for the Fund.

What level of project maturity are you looking for?

Through the Fund GSMA aims to:

  • Test innovative user cases that can increase the capacity of low-income and vulnerable communities to adapt to, anticipate and/or absorb climate related shocks or stresses.
  • Develop approaches or business models that can be scaled or replicated in similar markets to build climate resilience and adaptation.

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

Will the fund support the development or 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 and previously used hardware components this may be considered on a case-by-case basis by GSMA. Applicants may be required to respond to additional GSMA due diligence requests, including disclosing relevant supply chains.

Refer to Section 3 of theTerms and Conditions (T&Cs).

What are the benefits of applying?

By submitting your application for the GSMA Innovation Fund, you may be awarded funding to test or scale your solution. In addition to the financial funding, you will attend and have access to:

  • The GSMA Innovation Fund Bootcamp (a programme of expert-led sessions and targeted networking) and regular online clinics including sessions on product or service improvement, for example, supporting human-centred design, mobile network operator engagement or usability testing.
  • Knowledge, expertise or best practices on the application of digital tools for improving the lives of those most vulnerable and affected by the effects of climate change.
  • Learning exchange opportunities with other grantees and networking opportunities with the GSMA climate programmes’ networks including
    eAdaptation Research Alliance (ARA).
  • Monitoring, evaluation and learning technical assistance to evidence socio-economic impact. For example, the GSMA Innovation Fund and its Learning Partners will support you to develop a Theory of Change that will help you summarize the social impact you intend to achieve and serves as a logic test, helping you figure out if your inputs or actions are sufficient to will result in the change you wish to occur are hoping to create. When applying for funding from impact investors, international donors, and grant funds, the roadmap is a key tool for explaining your business concept and its value to society.
  • Facilitation of partnerships with mobile operators, public sector organisations and investors, where relevant.
  • Financial reporting support throughout the duration of the grant, via the Fund Manager.
  • Opportunity to increase visibility and profile to potential investors and partners through profiling in GSMA publications, social media, and participation in industry leading MWC.


Who can and can’t apply for funding?

The Terms and Conditions for this funding round identifies the objectives of the Fund, the types of organisations the Fund is looking to support, and the eligibility criteria for applying for funding. They are available here.

If you have been previously awarded a grant by the GSMA, FCDO and/or SIDA are you still eligible for this grant?

Grantees that have successfully completed their grant from the GSMA are eligible to apply. However, preference will be given to applicants (organisations) that have not received prior UKAid or Sida grant funding through the GSMA. Applicants that have received grant funding from the GSMA Innovation Fund in the past will need to strongly demonstrate the additionality of the new grant funding.

How do you define a start-up and Small and Growing Enterprise?

Small and growing enterprises refers to commercially viable start-ups, small to medium enterprises and social enterprises with up to 250 employees that have significant potential, and ambition, for growth. To be eligible, applicants will need to demonstrate that a majority of their income is derived from commercial activities. Early-stage companies who have not reached this threshold will need to demonstrate a reliable path to sustainability via commercial activities that generate revenue to be considered.

Can Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) apply for funding?

No. Non-Governmental Organisations are not eligible to apply for funding.

Can governments and government-owned or appointed 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. The Fund aims to support innovative small and growing businesses that are willing and able to work with MNOs, rather than providing support directly to MNOs. Note, 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. An applicant can have downstream partners. who have a role in the grant project. Download the GSMA Downstream Partner Guidelines in the application portal.

It is important that at the proposal stage the GSMA has full sight of all downstream partners to ensure that the Lead 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.

Can we apply if we do not have a registered organisation in the country of project implementation?

This question also applies to if you are enquiring if you don’t have a registered organisation in the country of project implementation, but are willing to do so if we get funding: 

Applicants must be an existing entity registered and operating in the country of project implementation at the time of application (whether domestic or foreign-owned or a joint venture). In cases where responsibility for service delivery lies with a downstream partner, rather than the applicant, for example service delivery by a local government, it may be acceptable for the applicant to be registered in a country other than that of project implementation (see geographic specific restrictions in section 5 of the terms and conditions).

Is there a requirement for how long a start-up should have been 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 as long as they are able meet all eligibility requirements, including been able to demonstrate that they are/have:

  • Registered as a legal entity and have a bank account capable of receiving GBP payments in the country where they will receive the grant money.
  • Active users and revenue in at least one eligible lower or middle-income market (see geographic specific requirements in section 5 of the T&Cs.
  • Able to provide unqualified audited financial accounts as a condition for funding.

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

The Fund aims to have the maximum impact on low-income and vulnerable communities, as well as environmental/climate impact (including biodiversity when relevant). However, 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 panel stages (regarding impact numbers), it may result in the application being removed from the process.


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

Applicants do not need an existing partnership with a mobile operator to be eligible to apply for funding. However, all applicants must demonstrate the value proposition of their business model for mobile operators and other technology companies and how a partnership with these companies in the short or long run could help scale their business model

The Fund encourages partnerships with mobile operators, other technology organisations, as well as other public and private ecosystem players including governments, government-owned agencies (or appointed agencies), universities or academic institutions, start-up accelerators and incubators.

Partnerships with governments, government-owned agencies (or appointed agencies) and other institutions will need to be evidenced if the application proceeds to proposal stage. Organisations piloting with government clients must have an MoU that demonstrates political will and capacity to commit to the project, prior to the final submission of the proposal to the fund panel (see section 11 of T&Cs for a timeline), although this can be in progress during the application process.

Organisations selling a service to a government during the grant must have a commercial agreement prior to final submission of the proposal to the fund panel, although this can be in progress during the application process. 


Does the grant funding have to be used for a project targeting just one country or can it be used for a project across multiple eligible markets?

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 18 months. If there are concerns about the feasibility of managing multiple markets, applicants may be advised to prioritise one market.

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

Grant amount and match funding contribution

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 require to deliver the solution you want the GSMA to fund (the project) and your capacity to manage those funds. Grant funding will not be used for costs that do not have a direct link to the project you’re pitching. For more information on how grant funds can be utilised and visibility on the guidelines that will be used for the GSMA Innovation Fund Stage 2 – Proposal and Budget Development, please download the GSMA Innovation Fund Guidelines for Using Grant Funds in the application portal.

Will the amount we apply for at the pitch stage be the amount received 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. If a project progresses from the pitch stage to the proposal stage, both the project and financial proposal will be thoroughly reviewed 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.

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

Yes, match funding contribution is mandatory. The Fund requires a match funding contribution from the applicant in order to demonstrate interest and trust from the wider investor community.

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

  • Applicants must provide 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’ and can be provided by the Lead Applicant themselves or a third-party. For more details and examples of what constitutes ‘in cash’ or ‘in kind’, please refer to theT&Cs..
  • Matching contribution cannot be from existing funding from UKAid/Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) or The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)

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

If a project proceeds to the proposal stage, the Lead 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 (see section 11 of T&Cs for a timeline).

Failure to provide this evidence may mean the proposal will not be presented to the Fund Panel. Please refer to theT&Cs for examples of evidence.

Application process

How do I submit my application?

To submit your solution, visit gsma.com/ClimateFund and fill out the application form.

Please note your final submission will need to be submitted through the formal application portal. Pdf documents will not be reviewed or accepted.

Can I edit my application once it has been submitted?

You can edit your application at any time until you hit submit by logging into the application portal. Applications cannot be edited once they have been submitted. You will receive a confirmation email once you have submitted in full.

Applications cannot be submitted after the deadline on Tuesday,16 May 2023 at 23:59 UTC+1 (UK time). Any applications in draft form 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, but all duplicate submissions will be deemed ineligible and not reviewed.

Applications for different projects from the same organisation are allowed, although we do not encourage this approach. You must demonstrate and consider how you spend your own resources through this process and if you are able to support the application of more than one proposal.

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

While we are unable to address all individual questions, The GSMA Innovation Fund for Climate Resilience and Adaptation will be hosting a webinar session to address frequently asked questions. Please check the website for up-to-date webinar details.

Since this is a fully competitive process, we keep applicants details anonymous, and you will have the option to ask questions anonymously online. Finally, for urgent enquiries you can email [email protected]. Please expect a response within 2-3 working days.

Questions received after Friday, 12 May 2023 will not be answered.

How will winners/grantees be selected?

All applications will be reviewed members of the team, who will assess the merits of each pitch, as well as screening them against our Fund eligibility criteria outlined in the Terms and Conditions.

An independent panel of experts (‘Fund Panel’) will evaluate and appraise proposals based on the submitted material as well as recommendations from the GSMA and the Fund Manager. We expect the final decision from the Fund Panel to be made in October 2023.

If my application is unsuccessful, am I able to receive feedback?

Due to the high volume of interest and pitches we receive, we are unable to provide feedback to applicants who have been unsuccessful in initial pitch stage of the application process.

However, we will be able to provide feedback to any applicants who are unsuccessful after having been invited to submit a full proposal (see section 11 for details on application process in T&Cs).