Global Innovation Fund Financing

Global Innovation Fund

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Grant amount: US $50,000 - US $15,000,000

Deadline: Rolling

Applicant type: Organizations Postdoctoral Researcher Unaffiliated Researcher Research Scientist Faculty

Funding uses: Project / Program, Education / Outreach

Location of project: Afghanistan; Albania; Algeria; Angola; Argentina Show all

Location of residency: Anywhere in the world

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The Global Innovation Fund invests in social innovations that aim to improve the lives and opportunities of millions of people in the developing world.

Through our grants and risk capital, we support breakthrough solutions to global development challenges from social enterprises, for-profit firms, non-profit organisations, researchers, and government agencies.


At GIF, we invest in a range of innovations with strong potential for social impact at a large scale. We define ‘innovation’ broadly to include new business models, policy practices, technologies, behavioural insights, or ways of delivering products and services that benefit the poor in developing countries -- any solution that has potential to address an important development problem more effectively than existing approaches.

Across our portfolio, we support innovators who are committed to using and generating rigorous evidence about what works. We offer financing from USD $50,000 to $15 million, with the largest funding amounts reserved for innovations that can demonstrate evidence of success and that have potential to spread across multiple developing countries.

We are serious about scaling up successes and following through with transformative ideas until they realise their impact potential. We are willing to take informed risks as needed to invest in the best ideas early on – and we will continue to support ideas that have proven success in achieving social impact. We expect our most successful innovations will eventually scale up to reach millions of people in developing countries with support from the private sector, developing country governments, donors or philanthropy.

We provide a flexible range of financing options tailored to the needs of each innovator. In addition to funding, we provide other resources including technical assistance and access to our global network of innovators, experts, and funders. We aim to connect successful innovators with partners and follow-on funding to support their growth.

Stages of Funding

A stage is defined by how far an innovation is in its development and by the level of evidence that supports its potential for success. The Fund expects that applicants will be able to demonstrate greater evidence of effectiveness in order to get higher amounts of funding from GIF.

* Please note that this is the maximum amount considered at this stage, most of our investments are significantly smaller than this. 

Pilot (up to $230,000 USD)*

At the Pilot stage, the fund provides seed capital to support the startup and field-testing of innovations. The goal of this stage is to refine the basic concept or business model and establish the viability of an innovation at a small scale through testing in real world contexts. This stage could include initial research and development, introducing an innovation to target customers, assessing user demand and willingness to pay, or documenting social outcomes and costs of spreading the innovation.

At the fund, we value any relevant evidence or research findings that demonstrate why the innovation is needed, such as evidence of customer demand or interest in the innovation, however, we do not expect that strong evidence already exists to prove the value of the innovation. At the Pilot stage, detailed operational plans are not necessary but teams should develop clear metrics to judge success.

Test & Transition (up to $2.3million USD)*

At the Test & Transition stage, the fund supports innovations that have already demonstrated success at a small scale. This stage is for innovators who require support for continued growth and for assessing the likelihood that the innovation can achieve social impact and/or market viability at a larger scale. During this transition period, innovators may require funding to test new business models or to make operational refinements.

During this stage, innovation teams should propose an appropriate strategy to track and rigorously assess social impacts, cost-effectiveness, operational feasibility, and/or commercial viability if relevant. For solutions that will require significant public resources to transition to scale, this stage typically includes rigorous testing of social impact and cost-effectiveness, often through randomised experiments. Funds can also be used to build paths to sustainability and scale.

Scaling Up (up to $15million USD)*

At the Scaling Up stage, the fund supports the expansion of innovations that have already demonstrated a strong track record of social impact and effectiveness. This category of funding helps innovators transition successful approaches to a large scale, usually with the goal of eventually achieving widespread adoption throughout one or more developing countries. Activities at this stage could include addressing operational challenges for scaling up; working with partners who will help scale the project beyond our support (e.g. investors, existing large commercial firms, developing country governments, etc.); adapting and expanding innovations to different contexts/geographies; or assessing ways to drive cost-effectiveness as the scale continues to increase.

For innovations with scaling up pathways that require sustained long-term public or philanthropic support, rigorous evidence of social impact and cost-effectiveness relative to alternative approaches is required at this stage. Innovations scaling up through commercialisation should be able to demonstrate that their innovation has passed a market test, meaning that revenues exceed costs and/or the innovation has attracted further growth capital from the market.

Types of Financing

At the fund, we believe that innovation can come from many different types of organisations - whether private sector or public sector, for-profit or non-profit. To that end, the fund offers a range of financing types, including grants, loans (including convertible debt), and equity investments.

The fund expects applicants to present a clear rationale for the type of financing they apply for. We would normally expect for-profit companies with a commercial pathway to scale to apply for debt or equity. For-profit institutions requesting grants must give compelling rationale on why they are requesting grants rather than risk capital such as equity or debt, e.g. why the innovation can be considered as a public good that benefits society, or why grants are appropriate for this stage or specific use of funding. For The fund’s largest commercial investments, equity will only be offered on comparable terms with other investors (on a 'pari passu' basis)

If you are a non-profit, and have a public-sector or hybrid path to scale, a grant is likely to be most appropriate. To secure a grant, however, you need to demonstrate that your innovation has the potential to be a cost-effective way to solve the given development challenge.

More information for applicants on financing types and amounts can be found here.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • GIF supports teams from social enterprises, for-profit companies, non-profit organizations, government agencies, international organisations, and researchers across all relevant sectors and doing work based in any eligible country in the developing world.
  • The fund welcomes innovations that address any major development challenge in any developing country:
    • Organisation type: Anyone may apply, including social enterprises, for-profit companies, non-profit organisations, government agencies, international organisations, and researchers in any country.
    • Sector: we are open to funding innovations in any sector as long as you can show that your innovation improves the lives of those living on less than $5 PPP per day, especially less than $2 PPP per day
    • Location: we fund innovations implemented in developing countries
  • GIF supports social innovations in any of the sectors listed below or any other sector relevant to international development:
    • Agriculture
    • Disaster Relief/Humanitarian Assistance
    • Education and Training
    • Employment / Livelihoods
    • Energy
    • Environment
    • Financial Inclusion
    • Gender Equality
    • Governance
    • Health
    • Industry and Trade
    • Information and Communications
    • Social Protection
    • Transport and Infrastructure
    • Water, Sanitation and Hygiene


  • While the fund welcomes applications from anyone, anywhere; all applications are assessed against our four investment criteria though a highly selective, rigorous process:
    • Innovation and Impact
    • Measuring success and sharing lessons learned​
    • Potential to Scale
    • Team


  • GIF does not typically fund the following types of projects: 
    • Traditional development projects or approaches that are similar to current practices (e.g. building schools, drilling wells, or delivering other goods and services to the poor through commonly used methods)
    • Innovations that are applicable to very specific, narrow contexts and/or lack potential to have meaningful social impacts on a large scale (e.g. potential to reach millions of people)
    • Basic scientific research (e.g. laboratory research)
    • Plans to expand private businesses in developing countries without demonstrable potential to achieve significant social impacts (e.g. reducing poverty)
    • Religious activities (e.g., building a church).
      • Note: Religious organizations conducting activities with broader development goals are welcome to apply, however.