The Global Innovation Fund, or GIF, is social impact-first investment vehicle that works with mission-aligned development agencies, philanthropy, and other funders to find and fund evidence-based innovations with the potential to positively impact the lives of millions of the world’s poorest people. They play a distinct role alongside existing development assistance by taking smart risks public agencies cannot using a range of financial instruments to achieve our mission. They help guide entrepreneurs through their journey to scale using a venture-style staged funding approach where more speculative ideas receive smaller amount of support and increased funding follows successful testing and achievement of proof points.
Often, entrepreneurs’ good ideas fail to generate their full potential social benefit because there is a mismatch between the kind of capital they need and the kind of capital available to these high-risk investments. At GIF, we help bridge this “pioneer gap” by providing grant, debt and equity financing to help the most promising entrepreneurs test, adapt, and improve their business model and innovations so they can attract commercial capital, or scale through public sector channels, and reach millions of people throughout the developing world.
GIF is supported by government development agencies such as the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Global Affairs Canada, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Swedish International Development Agency, as well as two Dutch foundations: Sint Antonius Stichting Projecten and Dioraphte. The Omidyar Network supported our launch, and we have co-financing partnerships with South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology and the Indian Rural Electrification Corporation, and launched a corporate fund anchored by Unilever in 2018 which has since been joined by Anglo American.
GIF has a staged funding approach, whereby the amount of funding available is tiered according to the level of maturity of your innovation and the activities proposed. The three tiers are:
- Pilot – the innovation is at an early stage but you have a credible plan for how it can be developed and tested in a real-world setting. Funding of up to USD 230,000 is available to test core assumptions around operational, social, and financial viability.
- Test and transition – the innovation has already shown promise of success at a small scale, and you have some information on your operational, social, and financial viability which you want to solidify before you scale. Funding of up to USD 2.3 million is available to support further growth and generate additional evidence on whether the innovation can achieve social impact and market viability, for commercial innovations.
- Scale – the innovation has a strong evidence base and logistically credible plan for scaling to reach millions of people. Funding of up to USD 15 million is available to expand the reach of innovations with a view to reaching millions of people in the long term if successful.
In the event you are invited to submit a full application, the GIF team can advise on the most appropriate stage of funding for your proposal. More information on GIFs tiered approach can be found on the Stage of Funding section of the GIF website.
- Any type of organisation may apply.
- This includes social enterprises, for-profit companies, non-profit organisations, government agencies, international organisations, and research institutions in any country.
- It is recommended that individual innovators, entrepreneurs or researchers apply through an affiliated organisation.
- One can apply for GIF funding through a simple application form on the GIF website, but please carefully review the guidance before deciding whether to invest time in preparing an application.
- Start by reviewing What they Fund and What they Don’t Fund to gauge whether there is an initial match between your funding needs and GIFs investment thesis and criteria.
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