Funding Opportunities for Businesses: The ITU Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge

Funding Opportunities for African Businesses


1. The ITU Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge

In order to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19, the international Telecommunication Union (ITU) and United Nation for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) have organized an innovation challenge to identify, recognize and support the development of digital communities accelerating digital transformation for life after the pandemic.

The challenge is open to governments, NGOs, private sector and start-ups, research institutions, academic and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).

The digital solutions should address curbing the transmission of the virus, mitigating the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic and improved recovery.

Winners will receive seed funding of $25k, additional fund-raising and resource mobilization support from UNOSSC through a crowdfunding window via For more information, visit Deadline for application is July 31, 2021


2. SAP’s Young Graduate Programme, Nigeria

Young Nigerian graduates in fields related to Business Administration, Management Information Systems and Industrial Engineering  that obtained their qualifications (BA/BSc/ HND) within the last three years and also passed with strong GPA are invited to participate in  Young Professionals Programme organized by SAP (Systems Applications and Products in data processing). The three-month programme is designed to give recent graduates the certifications and soft skills needed to become SAP Associate Consultants. Interested applicants must be unemployed or underemployed and be fluent in English. To apply, visit


3. IBM Code Global Challenge for Developers Worldwide.

Developers and problem solvers around the world are invited to participate in the Call for Code Global Challenge. The aim is to develop solutions addressing specific problems created by climate change. Areas of interest are: Clean water& sanitation, Zero hunger and Responsible production & green consumption.   For a solution to be considered, it must use one or more IBM Cloud services or IBM Systems. Deployment of sponsor or affiliated APIs and open source libraries is also allowed.

Interested applicants are expected to form teams of at least five participants, each member not less than 18 years. There is also the University Challenge that allows students to also participate.

Funding opportunities

All winners will be invited to the Call for Code Global Award Announcement and support from the Linnux Foundation. $200,000 will equally distributed amongst them while $35,000 will be shared by the runners-up. For the University Challenge, each member of the winning team will receive a share out of $10,000 and also an opportunity for an interview for a potential role in IBM. For more information, visit Deadline for application is July 31, 2021


4. DAAD Helmut-Schmidt- Programme (Master’s Scholarships for Public Policy and Good Governance)

Highly qualified first degree holders (with or without experience) in the fields of law, political science, economics and administration from developing countries nursing the ambition to take leadership roles in their home countries are invited to apply for DAAD Helmut-Schmidt-  Programme (Master’s Scholarships  for Public Policy and Good Governance).

The fully funded programme aims to prepare them for their future endeavours in terms of social and economic development of their home countries.

To be eligible, an applicant must have graduated within the last eight years.  Selected applicants will benefit: study and research grant worth up to €861 per month for master’s degree courses at German tertiary institutions, health insurance cover in Germany, travel allowance between Germany and the developing countries in question, rent subsidies and family supplement

For information on the application procedure, visit Deadline for application is July 31, 2021

Also Read: Funding Opportunities for Businesses: International Breweries Foundation Kickstart Enterpreneurship Programme 2021

5. The GSMA Innovation Fund for Digital and Urban Services

Start-ups, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Social Enterprises making use of digital technology to deliver urban services in their communities are called to participate in the GSMA Innovation Fund for Digital Urban Services.  Areas of interest are: plastic and waste management, water, energy and sanitation. Chosen innovations will receive grants in the range of £100,000 – £250,000 to enhance their development. To apply, visit Deadline for application is July 2, 2021.


6. Africa’s Business Heroes Competition

African social entrepreneurs who are impacting positively on their communities are called to participate in Africa’ Business Heroes Competition founded by Jack Ma. The purpose of the competition is to spot and grant support to the next generation of African sociopreneurs in their quest for a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future. Ten finalists will compete for a share of $1.5 million. Other benefits are: global recognition, networking, mentorship and training. To apply, visit Application opens from June 7 to November 30, 2021.


7. GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize 2021.

African agriprenuers needing support for the growth of their businesses can participate in the GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize 2021. The competition is organized by Generation Africa, a partnership initiative with a vision to strengthen the ecosystem for youth entrepreneurs in the agri-food sector across the continent. A male and female entrepreneur with the most scalable and innovative business ventures will receive $50,000 each and will also have the chance to attend the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF). Other benefits are mentorship and networking. For more information, visit Deadline for application is June 14, 2021


Funding opportunities

8. XPRIZE Carbon Removal Competition

Start-ups and innovators, high school students , university groups, small to midsize companies, community-based organizations, families and individuals  that can create and demonstrate solutions (hybrid, engineered or natural) which can help in the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or oceans   and isolate it durably and comfortably are called to participate in Elon Musk sponsored XPRIZE Carbon Removal Competition. The initiative aims at fighting climate change and rebalancing the Earth’s carbon cycle.

Interested teams must bring about solutions which at the initial stage can pull at least 1000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year and be scalable to gigatons per year in the future. The competition will last for four years. The winning team will receive $50m while $30m will be distributed amongst three runners-up.

Team registration begins on the 22nd of April, 2021. For more information, visit

Also Read: Funding Opportunities for Businesses: GSMA Innovation Fund for Digital and Urban Services

9. Milken-Motsepe Innovation Prize for Agri-tech Solutions

Innovators with agri-tech solutions which are able to increase economic value to farmers are called to participate in Milken-Motsepe Innovation Prize Programme 2021

The competition focuses on accelerating progress in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1 and 2: no poverty, no hunger. There are two competition rounds: (1) Design round where teams will submit their design and business model (2) Finalist round where teams will develop their prototypes and conduct field tests on small and medium-sized farms in Africa.

All participating teams will receive a 12-week experiential learning program courtesy of Stanford Center for Professional Development. Upon completion, a certificate will be issued. There will also be mentoring from industry experts and pitch/feedback sessions

Winning teams will receive $1m grand prize with $1m additional prizes.

They will also have access to: investors, data analysis and networking opportunities. For more information, visit Deadline for application is December 8, 2021


10. Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation 2022

African innovators that have developed or in the process of developing new technological innovations addressing development needs or challenges affecting their respective countries can apply for Africa Prize for Innovation organized by Royal Academy of Engineering. The developers of selected innovations will receive comprehensive and tailored business training, sector-specific engineering mentoring, communications support, pitching opportunities and also networking access. There will be a competition amongst the trained and mentored candidates with the winner receiving £25,000 and three runners-up receiving £10,000 each. Deadline for application is 20th July, 2021. For more information, visit


Funding opportunities


Social entrepreneurs from anywhere in the world, of any age, and any background who can distribute proven poverty interventions are called to apply for the latest version of D-Prize Challenge. Organizers of this programme are exclusively interested in ventures that will scale distribution of an already proven intervention in the developing world. Areas of interest are: Health access, Clean water, Education, Agriculture, Livelihoods, Energy Public Services and Custom. Both profit and non-profit organizations can apply. All winners will be awarded up to $20,000.  For more information on application process, visit Deadline for application is June 27, 2021



To support agribusinesses and SMEs, the Federal Government of Nigeria has developed the Agri-Business/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme.  Fields of interest: Agriculture & Agro-allied processing; Art & Entertainment; Automobile Services; Fashion and Dressmaking; Catering & Event Management; Courier & Delivery Services; Creative Industry; Apparels and Textiles; I.C.T 10. Cottage Industry; Media; Publishing; Telecommunications; Hospitality; Health Services; Welding & Fabrication; Animal Husbandry; Cosmetics, Beauty and Makeup Artistry; Electrical and Electronics; POP and Tiling; and Carpentry. Successful applicants will get trained, apply for a loan, receive funds and get business support services to adequate make sales. For more information, visit

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