Application Deadline: July 2, 2021


About the GSMA Innovation Fund

The GSMA Innovation Fund for Digital Urban Services (“the Fund”) supports innovations to build urban resilience through delivering essential urban services to the underserved.

The Fund will provide grants and additional support (see Section 5) to small and growing enterprises that leverage digital technology, especially mobile, to deliver urban services with socio-economic and environmental/climate impact in one of the following verticals:

  1. Energy
  2. Water
  3. Sanitation
  4. Plastics and Waste Management

The objective of the Fund is to extract insights from business models to inform the improvement of essential urban services delivery across energy, water, sanitation, plastics and waste management. Grants will be utilised to test digital innovations, enable scale, and provide essential services to underserved populations across all four sectors. The grant projects must seek to demonstrate:

  • How innovative digital technology, including mobile, can support delivery of urban services to underserved populations;
  • What business models and partnerships are required for innovative digital solutions to be adopted at scale;
  • What are the social, commercial and environmental/climate impacts delivering urban services to underserved populations; and
  • What role mobile operators and other technology companies can play in these business models, and how they can make their role commercially sustainable.

Grants will NOT be awarded to the following organisations, although partnerships with these entities as part of the application are strongly encouraged:

  • Governments, government-owned agencies (or appointed government agencies);
  • Mobile Network Operators;
  • University or academic organisations; and
  • Start-up accelerators and incubators.

The duration of the grant-funded projects can be between 15 and 18 months.

GSMA Innovation Fund Eligibility

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.

GSMA Innovation Fund

During the selection process, we will also ensure eligible applicants have/are:

  • Adequate financial systems, to report regularly to the Fund, providing evidence of expenditure of grant funds and match funds and undergo an external audit. In addition, shortlisted applicants will be required to produce unqualified audited financial accounts as a condition for funding.
  • Adequate internal human resource capability to implement the proposed project and comply with the Fund’s reporting requirements within the planned time frame.
  • Applicants may need to demonstrate how they are compliant with all applicable laws and regulations across markets of operations.
  • Compliant with fundamental Human Rights Laws, the UK Modern Slavery Act and Gender Equality Act, Child Protection Policies.
  • Compliant with GSMA Safeguarding Policy (on Children and Vulnerable Adults) in all implementation markets.
  • Adhere to the principals of the EU General Data Protection Regulation data privacy (GDPR).

We particularly encourage the following applicants to apply:

  • Female founders, and applicants with good representation of women at all levels of the organisation.
  • Local entrepreneurs, and applicants with good representation of local talent at all levels of the organisation. 
  • Applicants who proactively demonstrate their solution disproportionately and actively reaches more female users. 
  • Applicants who have a clear understanding of the environmental/climate impact of their operations and have proactively taken steps to set targets to reduce or systematically measure these impacts.


Click Here to Apply