Entrepreneurs working in development space are being called to access a part of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Innovation Fund to fund their businesses. The newly established Innovation Fund (IF) by UNICEF is a “non-thematic, pooled fund which has been specifically designed to finance early stage, open-source technology that can benefit children,” the agency said on its website.
“The IF has been designed to fund open source solutions from early-stage technology startups. This funding can go either to UNICEF Country Offices or to private sector companies in UNICEF programme countries. The Fund also invests in early-stage “knowledge products” – operations research that is published in the public domain and supports investment strategies and decisions,” the agency said.
The core motivation of the Innovation Fund, according to UNICEF, is to identify “clusters” or portfolios of initiatives around emerging technology – “so that UNICEF can both shape markets and also learn about and guide these technologies to benefit children.
“We invest in solutions that can impact the lives of the most vulnerable children. We find these solutions clustered around $100 billion industries in frontier technology spaces, such as: blockchain, UAVs, virtual and augmented reality, 3D printing, machine learning, quantum computing, genetic engineering, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, nano-satellites and human dynamics.”
This is an opportunity for Nigerian entrepreneurs who are working on the aforementioned thematic areas, seeking for investments in these three portfolios that UNICEF focuses on – a youth engagement, infrastructure and real time information – which the Fund has since raised $11.2 million for.
“Financial and technological support from UNICEF’s Venture Fund is available for companies that can show a strong founding team and a clear path to improving the lives of children. If you’ve got a start-up registered in one of UNICEF’s programme countries (see complete list here) and have a working, open source prototype (hardware or software) showing promising results, the UNICEF Innovation Fund is looking for you,” UNICEF added on its website.
UNICEF said it is seeking for open-source projects that have already been started that show “some positive indicators” but need funding “to take it to a level where it can really attract additional investment and funding by generating real data.”
The agency added that startups needing “a small amount of money” to get their “prototype to the stage where the company has proof that the solution works for other people” are welcome.
“The UNICEF Innovation Fund can help with these kinds of investments upto $90,000 to support the acceleration of your company’s work. The next stage after that proof would be going for more funding (this could be private sector investment or grant-funding, or other; depending on the type of technology and solution,” the agency added.