2021 Duke-Unicef Innovation Accelerator for Social Enterprise in Africa

Deadline: March 5, 2021.

UNICEF has a 70-year history of innovating for children. They believe that new approaches, partnerships, and technologies that support realizing children’s rights are critical to improving their lives. For them, innovation is about taking emerging approaches and tools, and testing how they can be applied across contexts. If successful, they scale them to positively impact children and young people around the world.


The Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator is open to any impact enterprises, working in or across Africa, that meet the following criteria:

  • Is a nonprofit, hybrid, or for-profit social enterprise
  • Has two founders/executives/senior leaders that can represent the enterprise over the course of the 2-year Accelerator and are comfortable working in English
  • Has strong evidence of impact over at least 3 years and has a plan for how to use the Duke-UNICEF award to scale that impact in the next 3-5 years
  • Deploys a promising sanitation and hygiene product and/or service, innovative supply chain model, business model, or other approach that has potential for widespread, sustainable impact
  • Enterprise or enterprise innovation adheres to UNICEF Innovation Principles
  • Active in any country, or multiple countries, in Africa
  • Preference for social enterprises that have existing working relationship (formal or informal) with UNICEF or a UNICEF country office
  • Preference for a diverse, gender-equitable team


Over the course of the 2-year Accelerator, selected enterprises will receive:

  • $25,000 unrestricted, one-time grant
  • Personalized coaching from social enterprise experts at Duke University and field experts from UNICEF
  • Bespoke mentoring
  • Customized capacity building curriculum
  • Duke University student support
  • Access to our broad networks

Accelerator Awardees should anticipate the following as part of their participation:

  • Participate in online communities and webinars
  • Participate in regular calls for coaching, mentoring, and peer learning
  • Participate in the week-long Duke-UNICEF Virtual Forum on Social Innovation, held twice yearly
  • Develop a capacity-building plan for scaling their impact, with support from the Accelerator team
  • Implement and track progress of a customized capacity-building plan, with support from the accelerator team and other mentors
  • Report relevant program performance and financial data on a semi-annual basis
  • Share insights, promising practices, lessons learned, and other expertize with other social enterprises participating in the accelerator


Think you are a good fit? Take their eligibility quiz to find out.

If you are eligible for the program, their team will send you the full application. Applications will be accepted on a rolling bases until 11:59pm ET on Friday, March 5, 2021. 


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