2021 GSMA Innovation Fund for Digital Urban Services

Deadline: July 2, 2021.

The GSMA is looking for start-ups, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and social enterprises in Africa, South or South East Asia. These organisations should be leveraging digital technology to deliver urban services with socio-economic, commercial and environmental impact in the following sectors:

  • Plastic and Waste Management;
  • Water;
  • Energy; and
  • Sanitation.


To be eligible to apply, applicants must meet the following criteria:
• Have active users and commercial revenue (revenue generated from any products or services offered by the organisation) in at least one eligible low- or middle-income market (see Section 3).
• Commit to providing 25% to 50% matching funding depending on the total grant amount requested (see Section 7).
• Ensure the proposed grant project is implemented in an urban area as defined by the World Bank.
• Be an entity registered and operating in the country of project implementation (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 3).
• Be fully compliant with relevant business licensing, taxation, employee and other regulations in all applicable countries of grant project operation.
• Be registered and have a bank account in the country where they will receive the grant money (if not the same as the project implementation country).
• To be eligible, applicants must be an eligible entity (as set out in section 1) and 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.
• Only one organisation can apply for funding and become a grantee. An applicant can have downstream partners who have a role in the project as per the GSMA’s Downstream Partner Guidelines. In case government entities are grant project partners, they cannot be a sub-recipient of the grant.


The support package includes:
• Grant funding: Successful projects for The GSMA Innovation Fund for Digital Urban Services will receive an equity-free grant of between £100,000 and £250,000 to scale their innovation over a 15- to 18-month period
• 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 or usability testing.
• Knowledge, expertise or best practices on the application of digital tools for improving lives of low-income households in urban settings.
• Learning exchange opportunities with other grantees and networking opportunities with the GSMA Digital Utilities and ClimateTech programmes’ networks.
• Monitoring and evaluation technical assistance to evidence socio-economic impact.
• Facilitation of relationships with mobile operators and public sector organisations, where relevant.
• Opportunity to increase grantee visibility and profile to potential investors and partners through profiling in GSMA publications, social media, and participation in industry-leading MWC events held annually in Barcelona, Los Angeles and Shanghai, as well as the Mobile 360 Series of regional conferences.


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