GSMA Innovation Fund for Digital Urban Services in 2021 (Win £250,000)

The GSMA is accepting applications for the GSMA Innovation Fund for GSMA Innovation Fund for Digital Urban Services in 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.

Two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, with most urban growth concentrated in Africa and Asia. This poses challenges to basic service provision as city authorities and urban service providers struggle to meet the demands of rapidly growing populations.

To build on the success of the previous rounds of the GSMA Innovation Fund, a new round will open for applications in May 2021 to scale digital solutions that provide essential urban services to underserved populations from low- and middle-income countries in Africa, South Asia, and South East Asia. Grants and additional support are provided to start-ups, small to medium enterprises, or social enterprises that leverage digital technology, especially mobile, to deliver urban services with socio-economic, commercial, and environmental/climate impact.

Worth of Award

  • 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.
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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
  • Commit to providing 25% to 50% matching funding depending on the total grant amount requested.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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How to Apply

  • You can apply online on their website
  • Make sure to register for their webinar Wednesday, 2 June (10:00 – 11:00 UTC+1). In this webinar, they will share additional information about the GSMA Innovation Fund and will provide you with guidance to help you complete your application.

Deadline: The deadline for submitting your project is July 2, 2021.


Click here for more details and to apply