The United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has listed 5 African startups among the 11 businesses to receive financial aid from the UNICEF Innovation Fund. By terms, these selected companies will benefit from the seed investment provided by UNICEF, and will also gain access to support from UNICEF’s innovation team and networks.
The 11 startups were selected from South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, Tanzania, Chile, India, the Philippines, Pakistan, and Serbia.
These startups are to receive equity-free seed funding from the organisation’s fund for making use of frontier technology solutions to address complex challenges and to create fairer opportunities for children and young people. They will also gain access to support from UNICEF’s innovation team and networks.
Speaking on the judging process, the organisation noted that the cohort, listing the 5 startups, focused on solutions that bridged learning or connectivity gaps towards employability. It added that these initiatives have invested in tackling the fact that nearly four billion people remain unconnected to the internet and by extension digital products that could improve their lives.
On calling for entries, the fund received more than 350 submissions from over 60 countries. However, entries from 9 countries made it to the final 11 startups to address four “Global Breakthrough” areas: job-matching, remedial learning, remote learning and work, and digital connectivity.
On the list of the 5 African startups is Giraffe, a South African job-matching portal and Angaza Elimu, a Kenyan-based digital learning platform. Also on the list is VRapeutic, an Egyptian startup which develops Virtual Reality (VR) therapeutic solutions and interventions for children diagnosed with conditions like but not limited to dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, autism, and cerebral palsy. Agora, an Egyptian Edu-startup, which is a game-based guided learning app for children and augmented reality content creation platform and Inspired Ideas, a Tanzanian health assistant tool are also beneficiaries.
This fund comes at a time when businesses around the world are struggling to survive the severe impact of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. It is hoped that this latest UNICEF grant would help the 5 African startups to scale up, employ more hands and positively impact their economies.