In case you’d forgotten, the GSMA Innovation Fund for Mobile Internet Adoption and Digital Inclusion was launched in April 2020. This was about the time when COVID-19 lockdowns globally were taking shape.
The fund is aimed at supporting startups or small businesses based in Sub-Saharan Africa or Asia that are helping people get online for the first time using mobile internet. Also, the fund to support innovative solutions to increasing mobile internet adoption and use for those currently not using mobile internet services.
In a blog post, GSMA says that they received a total of 598 applications from start-ups and SMEs in 44 countries in response to the call for applications. Out of these, only nine grantees made it. These are:
- Africa 118 from Ethiopia | Digital marketing service provider for African SMEs
- Ensibuuko from Uganda | Technology solutions provider to community-based savings and loans organizations
- Knowledge Platform from Pakistan | Digital learning provider
- Navana Tech from India | Conversational AI provider for low-literate, vernacular speaking, mobile-first internet users
- ScholarX from Nigeria | Digital learning provider
- The Orenda Project from Pakistan | Digital learning provider
- Vceela from Pakistan | Online platform for artisans in Pakistan
- WidEnergy Africa Ltd from Zambia | One-stop shop for community energy, water and connectivity
- Zonful Energy from Zimbabwe | Pay-As-You-Go solar energy systems provider
GSMA will be working with the grantees over the next 18 months, supporting them to realise their full socio-economic and commercial potential through:
- Promoting partnerships between mobile operators and grantees to increase the reach of mobile internet to new first time users;
- Providing technical assistance on topics such as digital skills training, how to reach more female customers, addressing handset affordability etc.;
- Providing tools, templates and specialist advisory support to help improve the offering and evidence outcome;
- Support with scalability and sustainability planning; and
- Opportunities to promote and showcase the work.