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GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund for Start-ups in Africa and Asia Pacific 2018

The GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund provides selected start-ups in Africa and Asia Pacific with equity-free funding, technical assistance, and the opportunity to partner with mobile operators in their markets to help scale their products and services into sustainable businesses with positive socio-economic impact.

Application Deadline: 15th April 2018 at 11.59pm GMT.

Eligible Countries: Countries in Africa and Asia Pacific

  • Africa: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Dem Rep., Congo Rep., Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Swaziland, São Tomé and Principe, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
  • Asia: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam.
  • Pacific: Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.

About the Award: For the third round, the Fund will be supporting start-ups willing to work with mobile operators. The fund is sector-agnostic and open to post-revenue start-ups using mobile to solve local challenges in Asia-Pacific and Africa.

The funding will be in the form of a grant which should be used for a specific project. The Fund will therefore not be taking any equity against the funding; it will however closely oversee the monetary usage of the grant and only disburse funding based on milestones achievements. Incremental fund payments will be dependent on the start-up delivering proof that mutually-agreed milestones/targets have been completed/achieved.

The three types of projects the Fund is interested in are:

  • Type 1 – Launch of new product or service; a project where a brand-new value proposition is developed and launched.
  • Type 2 – Expansion into a new market; a project which launches an existing product/service into a new market.
  • Type 3 – Scaling-up an existing product; a project to extend the reach/customer base of an existing product/service in the same market it was originally launched in.

Applicants are expected to submit and justify their requirements for the project to be funded, as well their reasons for the funding amount requested

Type: Entrepreneurship

Eligibility: To be eligible to apply, start-ups must meet the following criteria:

  • Use or be planning to use mobile technology strategically.
  • Have clear and measurable socio-economic impact, in particular: targeting low-income citizens, rural populations, women and/or youth.
  • Have the potential and appetite to form strategic partnerships with mobile operators.
  • Have active users and revenue in at least one market.
  • Be registered and operating in the country of project implementation. The start-up must also be registered in the country where they will receive the grant money (if not the same as the implementation country). Be fully compliant with relevant business licensing, taxation, employee and other regulations in all countries of operation.
  • Be compliant with all applicable laws including upholding/adhering to fundamental human rights, UK Modern Slavery Acts, Gender Equality Act, Child Protection Policies (here) and all international labour standards.
  • Have 50% matching funding for the total grant amount

During the selection process, we will also ensure start-ups have:

  • Adequate financial systems to report regularly to the Fund and, if required, undergo an external audit.
  • Adequate internal human resource capability to implement the proposed project within the planned timeframe.

We particular encourage the following start-ups to apply (see infographic):

  • Start-ups that can demonstrate how they will advance the SDGs, for example, working on Education and Youth, Job Creation, Public Services, Smart Cities or the growth of local Micro Small and Medium Enterprises.
  • Female founders, and start-ups with good representation of women at all levels of the organisation.
  • Local founders supporting local talent.
  • Start-ups that are using the following mobile technologies: Internet of things, USSD, SMS, IVR, Big Data Analytics and Mobile Money etc.


  • Through the grant application process, applicants will be asked to identify, clarify and demonstrate how they are positively contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • During application and before being awarded a grant, start-ups will set and agree measurable socioeconomic targets for the grant-funded project. Examples include: number of beneficiaries reached by the product or service, jobs created or unlocked income, hours of teaching delivered etc.
  • Throughout the life of the grant, start-ups must demonstrate, report and verify they are promoting sustainable development outcomes in their community, market and/or region.
    These measures will also be tracked for up to 2 years after the end of the grant

Number of Awards: Not specified

Value of Award: The support package includes:

  • Grant funding (see 6 & 7) between GBP100,000 and GBP250,000 (AUD180,000 and AUD450,000).
  • Mentoring on the use of mobile technology.
  • Facilitation of relationships with mobile operators.
  • Bootcamp (a programme of expert-led sessions and targeted networking) and regular offline clinics led by subject-matter experts.

Beyond this support, the selected start-ups will also benefit from enhanced visibility through the programme’s insight publications, learnings through exchange with other portfolio start-ups and networking opportunities with the programme’s stakeholders

If selected, applicants must be committed to:

  • Sharing project data with the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator programme. All data will be treated confidentially, unless agreed otherwise between the start-up and the programme.
  • Reporting regularly on socio-economic impact and commercial performance through mutually agreed KPIs
  • Participating in lesson learning and experience sharing activities for internal and public audiences.
  • Travelling to GSMA or other key events where relevant. Part of the funding given shall be allocated to specifically cover these travel expenses.
  • Participating in DFID, DFAT or other donors’ annual review process.
  • Providing demo material of the product or service to the GSMA (expenses can be covered).

Duration of Program: Available grants will fund projects for 9 to 12 months.

How to Apply: Apply Here

Visit the Program Webpage for Details

Award Providers: The Ecosystem Accelerator programme is supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Australian Government, the GSMA and its members.

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