Apply: Mobile for Development Utilities Innovation Fund – GBP 3.3 Million In Grants

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 Fund is open to supporting organizations from, and operating in Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia.

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 trailing 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.

The two phase grants

Seed Grant (Up to GBP 150,000 in funding):  the specific objective of the Seed Grant is to support the trial of products/services that use mobile to enable sustainable access to energy, water or sanitation.

Market Validation Grant (Up to GBP 300,000 in funding): the specific objective of the Market Validation Grant is to support partnerships with mobile network operators OR utility service providers to support scaling or replication of an existing service that increases or improves access to sustainable energy, water, and sanitation services to underserved customers. The service will already have demonstrated early success and have active users in at least one market.

DEADLINE:  September 3, 2017   Register here

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, optimise 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.
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