GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund 2018 for Startups in Asia Pacific and Africa

GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund 2018 for Startups in Asia Pacific and Africa

Deadline: April 15, 2018

Round 3 of the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund is now open. For the third round, the Fund will be supporting start-ups willing to work with mobile operators. The fund is sector-agnostic and open to post-revenue start-ups using mobile to solve local challenges in Asia-Pacific and Africa.

The GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund provides selected start-ups in Africa and Asia Pacific with equity-free funding, technical assistance, and the opportunity to partner with mobile operators in their markets to help scale their products and services into sustainable businesses with positive socio-economic impact. The Ecosystem Accelerator programme is supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Australian Government, the GSMA and its members.

The objectives of the Fund are to:

  • Establish partnerships between mobile operators and start-ups in order to increase the reach of innovative mobile services to low-income citizens.
  • Test business models with the greatest potential for growth and impact in Asia-Pacific and Africa.
  • Provide lessons and examples on the ways in which mobile is driving positive socio-economic change.


The three types of projects the Fund is interested in are:

  • Type 1 – Launch of new product or service; a project where a brand-new value proposition is developed and launched.
  • Type 2 – Expansion into a new market; a project which launches an existing product/service into a new market.
  • Type 3 – Scaling-up an existing product; a project to extend the reach/customer base of an existing product/service in the same market it was originally launched in.

Applicants are expected to submit and justify their requirements for the project to be funded, as well their reasons for the funding amount requested:

  • The amount can be between GBP100,000 and GBP250,000 (AUD180,000 and AUD450,000).
  • The funding requires a certain level of matching from the applicant (see 7).
  • The duration of the project can be between 9 and 12 months


The support package includes:

  • Grant funding (see 6 & 7) between GBP100,000 and GBP250,000 (AUD180,000 and AUD450,000).
  • Mentoring on the use of mobile technology.
  • Facilitation of relationships with mobile operators.
  • Bootcamp (a programme of expert-led sessions and targeted networking) and regular offline clinics led by subject-matter experts.

Beyond this support, the selected start-ups will also benefit from enhanced visibility through the programme’s insight publications, learnings through exchange with other portfolio start-ups and networking opportunities with the programme’s stakeholders.


The Fund is sector-agnostic and open to post-revenue start-ups using mobile technology to solve local challenges and who are registered and operating in Asia-Pacific and Africa (see 3). Available grants will fund projects for 9 to 12 months.

To be eligible to apply, start-ups must meet the following criteria:

  • Use or be planning to use mobile technology strategically.
  • Have clear and measurable socio-economic impact, in particular: targeting low-income citizens, rural populations, women and/or youth (see 4).
  • Have the potential and appetite to form strategic partnerships with mobile operators.
  • Have active users and revenue in at least one market.
  • Be registered and operating in the country of project implementation. The start-up must also be registered in the country where they will receive the grant money (if not the same as the implementation country). Be fully compliant with relevant business licensing, taxation, employee and other regulations in all countries of operation.
  • Be compliant with all applicable laws including upholding/adhering to fundamental human rights, UK Modern Slavery Acts, Gender Equality Act, Child Protection Policies and all international labour standards.
  • Have 50% matching funding for the total grant amount

During the selection process, they will also ensure start-ups have:

  • Adequate financial systems to report regularly to the Fund and, if required, undergo an external audit.
  • Adequate internal human resource capability to implement the proposed project within the planned timeframe.

They particular encourage the following start-ups to apply (see infographic):

  • Start-ups that can demonstrate how they will advance the SDGs, for example, working on Education and Youth, Job Creation, Public Services, Smart Cities or the growth of local Micro Small and Medium Enterprises.
  • Female founders, and start-ups with good representation of women at all levels of the organisation.
  • Local founders supporting local talent.
  • Start-ups that are using the following mobile technologies: Internet of things, USSD, SMS, IVR, Big Data Analytics and Mobile Money etc.

Eligible Countries

The Fund is open to projects from start-ups registered and operating in Africa and Asia-Pacific.

Africa: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo Dem Rep., Congo Rep., Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Swaziland, São Tomé and Principe, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Asia: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam. Pacific: Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.


For additional details please watch our video below, review the pitch questions before applying, and refer to the Terms & Conditions. For any further questions, please contact [email protected].

Click here to apply now.

For more information, visit GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund.