Mobile for Development Utilities Innovation Fund (GBP300,000)

Application Deadline: September 3, 2017:

What is the Mobile for Development (M4D) Utilities Innovation Fund?

The M4D Utilities Innovation Fund, supported by the UK Government and the Scaling Off-Grid Energy Grand Challenge for Development, aims to test and scale the use of mobile to improve or increase access to energy, water and sanitation services.

The Innovation Fund was launched in June 2013. In two phases of funding, grants have been competitively awarded to 34 organisations across four continents, amounting to 6 million GBP. A catalogue of past and current grantees can be found here.

To date, M4D Utilities estimates the trials have impacted over 2.5 million direct beneficiaries in underserved populations around the world. The grants awarded since 2013 have led to an additional $174 million raised by grantees from the private sector, showcasing the proof of concept for mobile-enabled utility services.

What is the Objective of the Fund?

The objective of the Innovation Fund is to extract insights from the trial and scaling of these innovative models to inform three key questions for growing the sector:

How can mobile support utility services?
For a mobile-enabled solution to be adopted at scale, what building blocks are needed
What are the social and commercial impacts of delivering community services to underserved mobile subscribers?

The Innovation Fund is open to:

Mobile operators
Technology solutions providers
Energy, water, or sanitation services providers, including:
Decentralised service providers
Urban and peri-urban utilities, and
NGOs trialling business model approaches
who propose to implement innovative products or services that include the use of one or more mobile channel(s) as a significant element of the delivery model.

Strong preference will be given to applicants that are NOT implementing pay-as-you-go energy services in East Africa.

Please note the scope of our fund:

Geography: We accept applications from Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia only, excluding the following countries: Algeria, Botswana, Gabon, Libya, Namibia, South Africa, Tunisia, Malaysia and Thailand.
Sector: Energy, Water and Sanitation grants only will be considered. For Sanitation, we do not consider solid waste collection and management proposals.

What are the M4D Utilities Mobile Channels?

Please refer to the infographic for a description of the mobile channels. The list below gives some examples of what is considered a mobile channel and what is not.

1. Mobile Payments

What it is: mobile money services offered by mobile operators, premium SMS or mobile airtime based payments.
What it isn’t: mobile banking, online banking, mobile money services not offered by mobile operators

2. Machine to Machine Connectivity

What it is: Smart metering, monitoring of utility systems, remote control of services based on GSM and cellular technologies
What it isn’t: connectivity solutions using unlicensed spectrum (e.g. LoRa, Zigbee)

3. Mobile Infrastructure

What it is: Telecom tower acting as the anchor load for the energy service company, that also supplies energy to surrounding communities via a microgrid / energy hub model
What it isn’t: Just powering the telecom tower with renewable energy

4. Sales, Distribution and Branding

What it is: MNOs’ sales and distribution channels and their recognisable and trusted brand can be leveraged to market and sell products/services.
What it isn’t: the use of the mobile money agent network for regular mobile money services on its own is not considered sales and distribution

5. Mobile Services

What it is: Voice, SMS, USSD, mobile apps used to report service delivery status, improve field operations, optimize supply chains, or provide customer support for instance.

6.Mobile Operator Customer Data:

What it is: Leveraging MNO customer data, with customer and mobile operator consent, improve targeted marketing, access to finance, etc.


Visit the official homepage here to apply here.

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