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New GSMA Fund Targets African Startups Tackling Urban Challenges

he fund seeks to scale digital solutions providing essential urban services with equity-free grants between $140,000 - $350,000.

Following the success of three years’ worth of focused funds, the GSMA announces its latest Innovation Fund for Digital Urban Services, eyeing African, South Asian, and Southeast Asian startups that are addressing the urgent challenges in rapidly expanding urban populations.

Within a wider long-term global trend of consistent rapid urbanisation, the majority of urban growth is largely taking place in densely-populated African and Asian regions. With this in mind, the GSMA fund seeks to spotlight startups addressing the critical challenges in basic service provisions, as city authorities struggle to meet the demands of rapidly growing urban populations in the Global South. Successful applicants will receive an equity-free grant between $140,000 - $350,000 to scale projects over a 15-18 month period.

In seeking to ensure a central environmental focus, the GSMA Innovation fund also invites startups bringing digital solutions for plastic and waste management, water, renewable energy, and sanitation sectors to apply.

Furthermore, the fund aims to scale digital solutions providing the essential urban services part and parcel of streamlining Africa and Asia’s urbanisation processes. As a result, grants and additional support will be provided to startups, SMEs, and social enterprises that bolster digital technology--specifically mobile--to deliver urban services with a targeted socio-economic, commercial, and environmental impact.