Global Innovation Fund announces first investments of over £3million
The Global Innovation Fund is announcing today our eight inaugural investments at our London launch. At the fund, we invest in a range of social enterprises: for-profit firms, non-profit organisations, researchers and government agencies working to improve the lives and opportunities of millions of people in the developing world.
Our new investees demonstrate our bold mission and the broad range of social innovations we support. These first eight investments include:
- A £525,000 equity investment in Segovia, a software technology platform that radically improves the efficiency of aid by making it faster, cheaper, and more secure to transfer funds directly to vulnerable populations.
- A £160,000 convertible loan investment in SafeBoda, a start-up company that is reducing motorbike accident deaths and injuries in Uganda, through the creation of an Uber-like network of safe motorcycle taxi (“Boda”) drivers.
- £480,000 in grants to Young 1ove and Evidence Action to support the expansion and rigorous testing of a creative peer education approach to empower girls in secondary school in Botswana to reduce their risks of HIV/AIDS and unintended pregnancies.
- A £210,000 grant to Educate! to support the testing, expansion, and government adoption of a skills-based educational programme in Uganda and Rwanda. The program empowers young people to improve their incomes through an innovative curriculum of entrepreneurship training, mentorship, and business clubs.
- A £1.5 million grant to Development Media International to rigorously test the impact of a radio-based behaviour change campaign to encourage women in Burkina Faso to prevent unwanted pregnancies through the use of modern contraceptives.
- A £120,000 grant to Valid Nutrition to test a new food supplement in Malawi that can be made with local ingredients and which is intended to reduce the cost of combating acute malnutrition in children.
- A £150,000 convertible loan to PoaPower for a pilot in Kenya of a new business model that provides off-grid communities with affordable clean energy using an innovative ‘pay-as-you-go” model.
- A £155,000 grant to the Newborn Foundation to pilot in the Philippines and China a life-saving neonatal technology that screens newborn babies for infections like pneumonia and congenital heart defects - at less than 10% of the cost of traditional screening.
At the Global Innovation Fund, we bring a fresh perspective to foreign aid, marrying the best of the venture capital approach to investments with a strong commitment to measuring social impact. We offer flexible financing from £30,000 to £10 million including grants, loans and equity investments, and only consider innovations that are more cost effective, impactful and scalable than current solutions. Our investment approach is firmly grounded in rigorous evidence, partnering with academics, sector and regional experts and impact-testing organisations at all stages. This venture capital inspired, tiered funding model allows for sensible risk taking, with small bets on promising but unproven ideas, and only accelerates the level of investment when there is a credible case that it is working.
International Development Secretary Justine Greening commended the London-based Global Innovation Fund at its conception, recognising its role in positioning Britain as a global leader in supporting the growth of international development innovations:
“This new organisation means that the UK will play a key role in kick-starting a new era of innovative, cost-effective development which can help deliver a safer, more prosperous world.”
On the announcement of its first investees, Global Innovation Fund CEO Alix Zwane said:
“Through these inaugural investments, the Global Innovation Fund is demonstrating our audacious mission to back ambitious social innovations that scale to reach millions of the world’s poor. We look to support ground-breaking new ways to lift people out of poverty, improve the quality of their public services, and help them live healthy, productive lives. Our unique approach, supporting the best social innovators across all sectors and geographies, is responding to the demand for increased effectiveness and delivering impact right across the developing world.”
On the role the Global Innovation Fund is playing to support Young 1ove, Executive Director of the Botswana-based organisation Noam Angrist said:
“The Global Innovation Fund has enabled Young 1ove to build-up and nurture our path to scale. The Fund is investing in our organization as well as our programme, a rare and pivotal form of support. The support has so far enabled us to undergo our first external audit, bring on senior staff, and explore and prepare to run preliminary pilots in the region beyond Botswana. Similar to the Silicon Valley tech revolution, we aim to shake-up the development and social impact space through impact-focused social entrepreneurship. The Fund is investing in that model and our organizational growth.”