innovation | ethics | impact

“SDG money: Exploring institutional fundraising pathways for innovation”

As part of Google’s SDG accelerator, Karen and Ophelie from Mindset-PCS facilitated a session**, on May 19, on “SDG innovation money: Exploring institutional fundraising pathways”, for 11 amazing start-ups.

* * *

The humanitarian and development sector is not an impenetrable fortress for start-ups as many may think.

It offers (maybe hides?) a multitude of funding opportunities that may not be obvious to entrepreneurs who are often more familiar with traditional innovation funding mechanisms.

In this session, we explored three concrete pathways to obtain innovation funding from institutional donors and (inter)governmental agencies: 1) grant-making; 2) direct partnerships (bilateral and triangular partnerships); and 3) the UN procurement system.

Below is a sneak pick of top recommendations that were highlighted during the session for each route.

Direct partnerships with SDG actors:

  1. 1. Don’t get discouraged by the pessimistic talk. There are some success stories out there (see for instance Hala Systems that joined the session).
  2. 2. First analyze the global trends (sectors, geographic and funding trends) to understand where you fit!
  3. 3. Map the actors, analyze their vision, priorities and budget streams.
  4. 4. Then, plug the pieces together (it is a strategy game after all!) and identify your value proposition and your ‘entry point’ accordingly.
  5. 5. Highlight a logical continuum when presenting your solution (i.e. a link between actual needs, your value proposition and impact).
  6. 6. Know the context, bring in local partners, to gain more weight.
  7. 7. ‘Reassure’ the entities by talking their language and demonstrate you understand localization, ethics, sustainability, etc.
  8. 8. Evidence that the solution and the overall approach fit the SDG actors’ criteria.
  9. 9. Get your compliance ready.

Grant making:

  1. 1. Determine whether to make a bid.
  2. 2. Language of proposals – Understand the terms.
  3. 3. Proof of efficacy and proof of impact.
  4. 4. Evidence of situational need -> your value proposition -> your team’s unique aptitude. 
  5. 5. At seed level: Pilots.   At scale level: Scaling out and scaling up. 
  6. 6. Don’t pitch. Relate.
  7. 7. Relationship with local communities and partnerships. 
  8. 8. Budget: Showcase value for money.
  9. 9. Proofread and perfect.

** Many thanks to Google SDG accelerator’s team for organizing the sessions, to Karen Bernstein and Ophelie Namiech from Mindset-PCS for facilitating and presenting, and to the incredible speakers who joined and share their inspiring and motivating experience and recommendations: Chris Houston from Humanitarian Grand Challenge, Arielle Kitio from CASTY, William Elong from AlgoDrone, Stephen Honan & Saghar Hamidzade from HalaSystems, and Xavier Michon from the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).

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