What are Global Innovation Funds?

Global Innovation

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The Global Innovation Fund or GIF is a charitable social-first investment fund whose mission is to find, fund, and scale-up cost-effective, evidence-based innovations that have the potential to measurably improve the lives of millions of people living in unsustainable conditions in developing countries.

GIF was established by the UK government as well as the US government as an independent force to invest in innovation without the constraints faced by the government aid agencies.

The Global Innovation Funds is a nonprofit fund that has its headquarters in London and is global in breadth and scope that is open to the best approaches to solve any major development problem in low or lower-middle-income countries. Seeking solutions that can scale up commercially, through the private sector, public sector or a combination of both in order to achieve widespread adoption.

It is funded by DFID (UK), the Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade DFAT (Australia), DST (South Africa), the United States Agency for International Development or USAID (USA) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency SIDA (Sweden). To this date, these partners have pledged an amount of over 125 million euros for the next five years.

GIF deploys grants, debt investments and equity in order to support a range of innovators across the globe to accelerate innovation, development, rigorous testing and scaling of evidence-based and market-tested innovations.

In a short while, it has developed a portfolio of over 40 risk capital investments and grants in sectors including domestic resource mobilisation, agriculture, early child development and education, family planning, health and nutrition, skills and youth. Over 80% of GIF’s current investments are in the commonwealth.

Type of Funding

The Global Innovation Funds believe that innovative solutions can come from any and many different types of organisations, be it private sector or public sector, for-profit or non-profit. In order to accelerate the process, GIF provides a range of financing types, that includes loans, convertible debt, grants, and equity investments. The applicants are expected to present a clear motivation and request for the type of financing they are applying for.

In the case of a non-profit organisation, and their innovation does not involve generating revenue from users or customers, a grant is most appropriate. However, GIF has the flexibility to provide blended financial assistance depending on the funding needs.

The Global Innovation Fund is forbidden from providing grant finances to organisations for purely commercial or profit-making activities. In case the funding is setting up or growing a commercial business, it is advisable to apply for debt or equity. However, for-profit entities can apply for grant funding if their output is benefitting the public in general.

Application procedure

In order to apply for funding from The Global Innovation Funds, the organisations have to go through the following steps:

  • Understanding the criteria

Before applying, the organisation must read through the guidelines on ‘What we fund’ and the types and stages of funding available. Solutions can come up from anywhere, however, GIF have precise requirements and are unable to fund work that does not meet these criteria

  • Initial application

After their work fits with the GIF criteria, the next step is to complete a short application stating the innovation and how it meets the criteria and what can be achieved with the funding

  • Follow-on call

In order to know more about the innovation and how GIF can support the organisation, a member of their investment team will arrange a follow-on call

  • Full application and due diligence

In the event the GIF agrees to progress to due diligence, they will request a full application including information about the organisation’s team, budget and plans. Due diligence will include interviews with the team, other stakeholders, calls with referees, etc

  • Decision panel

Upon satisfactory completion of the due diligence, GIF will convene a decision panel composed of senior leadership at the fund and external experts.

  • Funding agreement

Decision panel approval is conditional upon satisfactory completion of final financial and legal compliance, and negotiation of a funding agreement.

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