The Global Innovation Fund

We accept applications on a continuous basis, with no deadlines or ’rounds’ of funding. In addition to this open application window, we actively seek out investments. Our review process is highly selective and rigorous, and less than 10% of applicants are invited to submit full proposals.

The stages of your application

After having read and agreed to the important information surrounding our application process you will be ready to apply and redirected to our online portal. The initial application involves two parts.

First, you fill out an online application form with general information about your request for funding. Second, you upload a short description of your innovation, which will be provided after completion of the online form. If you are interested in applying for funding please make your way through the following steps in order to start your application:

  1. Understanding the application process
  2. What type and amount of funding should I apply for?
  3. Am I a good fit for the Global Innovation Fund?
  4. What we do not fund
  5. Start an application

Funding Agreement

Once an application has been conditionally approved by a Decision Panel, the fund will undertake financial and legal due diligence, as well as resolve any outstanding technical and social issues. As long as no compliance issues arise, we will negotiate a funding agreement with the applicant.

This part of the process will vary for different types of capital. For grants, there will be a grant agreement which may include milestones. For loans, the interest rate offered and conditions of the loan will be part of the agreement. For equity, there will be a valuation process and an investment agreement.

Amount of Funding

We use a staged funding approach at the Global Innovation Fund. The more evidence you have of the effectiveness of your innovation, and the larger its scale, the larger our potential investment.

Please take a minute to read through this page before you apply to know what stage is appropriate for you. We take into account three main factors when determining your stage: level of development of the innovation, number of beneficiaries and the level of evidence.

The fund has caps at each stage – we can take small bets on pilots, whereas we are able to invest millions in innovations that have already proven their viability and are ready to scale. The fund also employs a different level of due diligence at each stage – we have a streamlined process for pilots, whereas we conduct in-depth due diligence over an extended period of time for scale-stage support.

  • Pilot: Your innovation is still in an early phase. You are testing core assumptions around operational, social and financial viability. The maximum we can fund per pilot is $230,000 USD.
  • Test and Transition: Your innovation has completed initial testing and is now transitioning to larger scale. You have some information on your operational, social and financial viability. You want to solidify this before you scale. The maximum we can fund per intervention is $2.3 million, although the average investment size is smaller.
  • Scale: Your innovation has solid operational, social and financial viability. You have strong evidence that my innovation improves the lives of those living on less than $5 PPP per day. Now you want to replicate your innovation in new countries and context, reaching millions of people. The maximum we can fund per innovation is $15 million, although the average investment size is much smaller.

After reading this section, please do your best to classify yourself into one of the three stages. However, it will not be deal-breaking if you mis-classify yourself – we are happy to work with the most competitive candidates to better understand what stage your innovation is at after you submit your initial application.

What type of support should I apply for?

  • If you are a for-profit company, or have a market route to scale, it is likely more appropriate for you to apply for equity or debt. The fund may give grants to for-profit companies in the cases where there is a large social impact and there is a clear case that we are not crowding-out private capital. Additionally, we are open to providing grants to for-profit companies to fund rigorous evidence generation around the impact of your model on people living on less than $5 PPP per day.
  • If you are a non-profit, and have a public-sector or hybrid path to scale, a grant is likely to be most appropriate. To secure a grant, however, you need to demonstrate that your innovation has the potential to be a cost-effective way to solve the given development challenge.

At the fund, we believe social innovation can come from anyone, anywhere. But that doesn’t mean that all development projects are a good fit for GIF. We have very specific criteria and our investment process is highly selective and rigorous. The following section is intended to help prospective applicants understand our investment criteria before choosing whether or not to apply.

The fund welcomes innovations that address any major development challenge in any developing country:

  • Organisation type: Anyone may apply, including social enterprises, for-profit companies, non-profit organisations, government agencies, international organisations, and researchers in any country.
  • Sector: we are open to funding innovations in any sector as long as you can show that your innovation improves the lives of those living on less than $5 PPP per day, especially less than $2 PPP per day
  • Location: we fund innovations implemented in developing countries

While the fund welcomes applications from anyone, anywhere; all applications are assessed against our four investment criteria though a highly selective, rigorous process:


Innovation and Impact

Our first criterion asks whether your intervention will meaningfully improve the lives of those living on less than $5 PPP per day. We ask three questions:

  • Does your innovation have the potential to deliver substantially greater results per dollar than standard development practice?
  • What is your evidence of impact to back this claim?
  • Will your current request substantially strengthen or test your case for impact?
  • Do you reach our target market?

Does your innovation test, challenge, or improve on business as usual?

Simply put, the Global Innovation Fund must fund innovation. Your innovation could be a new business model, technology, distribution system, financing mechanism, etc. Whatever the type of innovation, you need to explain how your innovation can make it easier, faster, less costly or otherwise more feasible to tackle an important development challenge.  For example, does your business model allow you have a bigger impact on behaviour than alternatives? Is your technology cheaper? Does your financing mechanism allow you to reach a poorer income segment?

Do you have evidence of impact?

The fund is committed to supporting the acceleration and transition to scale of innovations that are backed by rigorous evidence. To that end, we will ask to see quantitative evidence that your innovation improves on business as usual. Often, but not always, this evidence may be generated via a rigorous randomized controlled trial or quantitative assessments that use other strategies to identify the causal impact of your approach relative to a comparable control group.

Our expectations of the level of evidence you have to support your innovation increase with organisational stage. Later stage organisations, at larger scale, requesting larger amounts of funding are required to have more robust evidence of impact. See “what we expect at each stage” for more detail.

Do you reach our target market?

The fund supports innovations that benefit people living on less than the equivalent of $5 PPP* per day in developing countries, and we are especially interested in innovations that impact people living on less than $2 PPP per day. We expect innovators to have some understanding of who their customers / beneficiaries are to show that they fall within our target market.

*PPP = purchasing power parity. PPP prices are different from market prices. Please see the World Bank website for an explanation of these poverty lines, and information on how to calculate incomes in PPP terms.


Measuring success and sharing lessons learned

We support innovators who are committed to evaluating their own success, with plans to collect data and feedback to help inform decisions. This includes operational monitoring and evaluation, as well as impact evaluation. Innovators from learning organizations that make data driven decisions are a good fit for the fund.

We also want to see an openness to sharing relevant lessons with our team and external partners, especially if this is necessary to foster scale.


Potential to Scale

The fund’s goal is to scale innovative solutions to development challenges that are backed by rigorous evidence. We only fund innovations with the potential to scale to reach millions of people living on less than $5 PPP a day.

Our staged funding approach allows us to support innovations at different stages on their path to scale, from small scale field pilots to scaling a proven intervention to a whole new country.

If you are applying at the pilot stage, please make sure to explain how the innovation you are working on could scale and grow. We are interested in funding pilot projects that reach 1,000 people in the next 12 months, so long as the model has the potential to scale to reach millions of people in the long run. If your innovation is only ever designed to reach a few thousand people in a specific context, you are a not a good fit for GIF even at the pilot stage.

Your organisation does not have to scale the innovation directly

While in some cases, your organisation may be able to scale an innovation directly to reach millions of people, we also expect many innovations to scale through partnerships (such as with government or philanthropic organisations or other firms). In assessing the potential of an applicant’s intervention to scale, we evaluate its operational, financial and social viability at scale. Even applicants not currently at scale should be ready to explore who would likely implement and pay for the innovation at scale.


Team

We look for innovators with the relevant expertise and capabilities to achieve success.We also like to see that your team has clear roles, responsibilities, and time commitments needed to be successful. Teams should be able to demonstrate strong knowledge of the problems they are addressing and what approaches are likely to work in the local environment surrounding their innovation (e.g. operational, geographical, political, or social context). It is especially important that teams demonstrate the ability to identify and respond to risks and changes that are likely to arise as growth is achieved. We also look for the team’s ability to engage effectively with partners in government, private sector, and/or community leaders as needed.

At earlier stages of development, teams must demonstrate a strong commitment to drive the innovation forward, with openness and ability to pivot or adjust their strategies as needed. At later stages of development, teams should demonstrate that they have the management, operational, and evaluation capabilities needed to test and scale up the innovation.

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