UN Women/UNDP Open Innovation Challenge and Call for Youth Led Social Entrepreneurship Solutions in Africa 2018 (Up to $10,000)

UN Women/UNDP Open Innovation Challenge and Call for Youth Led Social Entrepreneurship Solutions in Africa 2018 (Up to $10,000)

Deadline: September 18, 2018

Applications are open for UN Women/UNDP Open Innovation Challenge and Call for Youth Led Social Entrepreneurship Solutions Addressing Development Challenges Facing Youth in Africa 2018. Are you an African youth with the passion to help Africa progress but struggle to find the support you need to turn your idea into reality? Here is an opportunity for you to be at the center of Africa’s development & attainment of the SDGs.

In efforts to support innovative youth entrepreneurs and facilitate knowledge management and exchange, UN Women, in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will host the Africa Youth Conference 2018 on 23 – 25 October 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya. The conference, under the theme of “Unleashing the Potential of Youth in Africa – Prioritizing Investment in Youth Development in the Post-2015 Agenda”, will offer a platform for young people and key stakeholders to showcase their work, share ideas, experiences and innovative approaches for effectively addressing youth challenges in Africa, with a special focus on addressing the challenges facing women and girls.

Are you an African youth entrepreneur passionate about the continent with an innovative solution? Then, read on – we have an opportunity for you!

The SDG Challenge

Within the Africa Youth Conference 2018, UN Women partners with the UNDP to conduct a challenge and award grant financing to help African youth entrepreneurs to develop and implement their innovative solutions that address SDG challenges in their communities, especially those targeted at bridging the gender gap in their countries.

The grants follow the Open Innovation Challenge of “YAS! Youth for Africa and SDGs”, which UNDP implements in partnership with Accenture. YAS! is a portal-platform for Africa’s youth entrepreneurial ecosystem. It supports the development and growth of youth entrepreneurship in Africa by creating a marketplace for eco-system players, namely investors, large corporates and governments.

This Challenge invites African youth entrepreneurs to step forward to help realise the Goals of Africa: They call on young people, especially women and girls, to present them with their innovations for SDG attainment in their communities and countries across Africa. Areas of particular relevance for this Challenge include youth access to sustainable livelihoods, youth engagement in governance / political participation, leadership and decision making, as well as youth action in preventing violence and other harmful practices against young women and girls.

Prizes and Benefits

Winning entries will receive funding to develop, validate and scale innovative ideas. The grants will be awarded to entrepreneurs who would like to test their innovative solutions or grow existing ventures, as per the following categories:

  • Idea Stage: 5,000 USD (seed grants)
  • Growth Stage: 10,000 USD (scale grants)

The innovators selected for the funds will be acknowledged and presented with awards during the Africa Youth Conference in October 2018. In selected cases, UNDP and Accenture will also provide business development support to winning innovators, including access to mentors and capacity building to implement their solutions.

From the applications, UN Women, in collaboration with UNDP, will also identify additional youth entrepreneurs that have particularly innovative solutions to also invite them to the Africa Youth Conference, where their ventures will be profiled and exhibited. So, even if you do not make it for the grants, you could still secure yourself a trip to Kenya to exchange with other youth innovators on your solutions to support the attainment of the SDGs!

Are you up to this challenge? It’s an opportunity to be at the centre of Africa’s development and to help improve life for all in your community, your country, in Africa … and potentially even globally!


You are eligible for the Challenge if you answer “yes” to all of the following questions

  • Are you African, aged between 15 and 35 years?
  • Do you have an innovative, replicable, scalable idea that could transform your community, country… or even Africa?
  • Would you like to contribute towards the attainment of the SDGs and therein especially gender-related targets and indicators of SDG 1 (poverty), SDG 5 (gender equality and empowerment of women and girls), SDG 8 (decent employment) and SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure)?
  • Do you have the passion to help Africa progress – but struggle to find the support you need to turn your idea into reality?

If you are between 15 and 18 years old, you can still apply for the Challenge and stand a chance to be profiled and recognized at the Africa Youth Conference as an outstanding innovator. Grants, however, can only be awarded to entrepreneurs with a minimum age of 18 years.

Selection Criteria

Key factors that are being considered are whether the proposed solution:

  • Is inclusive and has great potential for impact (e.g., reduces poverty for the most disadvantaged especially women and girls).
  • Is sustainable (e.g., provides a long-term solution, is gender balanced and sensitive, is environmentally sustainable, climate smart, financially sustainable, etc.).
  • Is transformative, innovative and can be scaled up easily.
  • Is replicable in other environments and can be replicated across more African countries than that of the applicant.
  • Is broadly accepted and widely accessible to all targeted beneficiaries and/or potential users especially women and girls.
  • Is available for sharing.
  • Builds on technologies or methodologies that are adaptable to various contexts for the benefit of all population including women and girls.


To apply for the Challenge and stand a chance to win grant funding to pursue your entrepreneurship venture and / or profile your innovative idea/solution, fill and submit the form below.

Please fill out this form, save it and e-mail it to: [email protected] and [email protected].

For more information, visit UNDP Innovation Challenge.