Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator 2021 for Social Enterprises in Africa ($25,000 grant)

Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator 2021 for Social Enterprises in Africa ($25,000 grant)

Deadline: March 5, 2021

Ready to scale your innovation or enterprise? Apply for the Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator 2021. Duke University and UNICEF are looking for social entrepreneurs tackling the most challenging problems facing children globally. They are currently seeking six social enterprises working specifically on sanitation and hygiene issues in Africa.

The Accelerator, housed at Duke University, was established to help social entrepreneurs acquire the knowledge, tools, and networks necessary to improve the lives of children around the world.

Their goal is to increase the effectiveness, sustainability, and scale of impact of some of the most promising solutions to critical challenges facing the world’s children. Ultimately, the Accelerator supports UNICEF’s goal to give a fair chance in life to every child, everywhere, especially the most disadvantaged.


Over the course of the 2-year Accelerator, selected enterprises will receive:

  • $25,000 unrestricted, one-time grant.
  • Personalized coaching from social enterprise experts at Duke University and field experts from UNICEF.
  • Bespoke mentoring.
  • Customized capacity building curriculum.
  • Duke University student support.
  • Access to broad networks.

Accelerator Awardees should anticipate the following as part of their participation:

  • Participate in online communities and webinars.
  • Participate in regular calls for coaching, mentoring, and peer learning.
  • Participate in the week-long Duke-UNICEF Virtual Forum on Social Innovation, held twice yearly.
  • Develop a capacity-building plan for scaling their impact, with support from the Accelerator team.
  • Implement and track progress of a customized capacity-building plan, with support from the accelerator team and other mentors.
  • Report relevant program performance and financial data on a semi-annual basis.
  • Share insights, promising practices, lessons learned, and other expertize with other social enterprises participating in the accelerator.


The Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator is open to any impact enterprises, working in or across Africa, that meet the following criteria:

  • Is a nonprofit, hybrid, or for-profit social enterprise.
  • Has two founders/executives/senior leaders that can represent the enterprise over the course of the 2-year Accelerator and are comfortable working in English.
  • Has strong evidence of impact over at least 3 years and has a plan for how to use the Duke-UNICEF award to scale that impact in the next 3-5 years.
  • Deploys a promising sanitation and hygiene product and/or service, innovative supply chain model, business model, or other approach that has potential for widespread, sustainable impact.
  • Enterprise or enterprise innovation adheres to UNICEF Innovation Principles.
  • Active in any country, or multiple countries, in Africa.
  • Preference for social enterprises that have existing working relationship (formal or informal) with UNICEF or a UNICEF country office.
  • Preference for a diverse, gender-equitable team.


Think you are a good fit? Take the eligibility quiz to find out.

If you are eligible for the program, their team will send you the full application. Applications will be accepted on a rolling bases until 11:59pm ET on Friday, March 5, 2021.

Click here for the Quiz

For more information, visit Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator.