Humanitarian Innovation Challenge to Solve Problems through Digital Innovation in Africa

Deadline: 11 October 2019

The African Union, Humanitarian Affairs, Refugees and Displaced Persons Division of the Department of Political Affairs, is organizing an “Humanitarian Innovation Challenge” to identify five promising digital technology-based ideas which tackle forced displacement or other humanitarian challenges in Africa.

The challenge is part of the activities of AU’s theme of the Year 2019: The Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa. The innovations are also expected to tackle other aspects of humanitarian challenges including man-made/natural disasters in Africa e.g. conflicts, famine, droughts, floods, epidemics, etc.

The top five (5) innovators will be invited to a three day-long Prototype Lab in Nairobi (Kenya) in mid-November where they will receive professional coaching/mentorship and support to bring their idea to the next level. The event will close with a pitching sessions where the individual /team with the most convincing concept will receive 20.000 EUR to develop their idea into an innovative digital product, service or tool in an intensive accelerator phase.

The accelerator phase of the project will take place in the winners’ country or region in 2020.

Benefits
The five selected teams will receive the following support:

  • Invitation to a three-day Prototype Lab in Nairobi, Kenya (including flights, accommodation, visa, insurance, participation in the Prototype Lab for up to three persons per team).
  • During the Prototype Lab the teams will get support in further developing their ideas/solutions regarding business model refinement, visual prototyping, User-Centered Design, pitching and other areas. Besides, experienced coaches and experts will provide inspiring inputs and facilitate the workshop through Design Thinking methods and will help prepare the teams pitches.
  • Networking with AU representatives, experts from the Humanitarian sector and with the other participating teams
  • The team with the most convincing idea/solution (based on the final pitch to a jury at the end of the Prototype Lab) then will receive additional support through:
  • An Accelerator Programme for the development of the idea/solution into a functioning digital implementable prototype. During the (up to) three months long accelerator phase, the winning team will win support worth 20.000 EUR. This will include tailored coaching based on their specific needs from experienced coaches and consultants (e.g. IT development, data science/security, web design, business development, marketing, legal, etc.). The Accelerator Programme will take place in the geographical region of the winning team, as close as possible to where the team is based.
  • Recognition Award by the AU
  • Presentation of the idea/solution at a High-Level AU Events in 2019 and 2020

Eligibility Criteria

  • The background of the team can be non-profit or for-profit organisation, or just a group of friends
  • Each team should already have some experience in developing digital solutions and must include at least one IT specialist/developer potentially able to develop the core product
  • The members of the team must be African nationals and residents
  • The team should be available to come to Nairobi/Kenya on November 20-22nd 2019 and to develop their idea into a product, service or tool during the Accelerator Programme in the timeframe between January 2020 to March 2020

What ideas are they looking for?

  • The idea should be digital technology driven (and based on the Principles of Digital Development and be linked to the innovative use of (Big) Data and/or citizens engagement/participation
  • The idea should provide a solution for a pressing humanitarian problem related to forced displacement or man-made/natural disasters in Africa
  • It should be feasible to develop this idea into an implementable digital prototype in the timeframe between January 2020 to March 2020 – and to pilot it in a small context with real users afterwards

Selection Criteria
The five teams admitted to the Protoype Lab will be selected on the basis of their submission from an open call using the following selection criteria:

  • How relevant is the problem that the idea/solution is tackling?
  • What is the long-term potential of the idea in terms of positive impact for its beneficiaries (e.g. refugees, returnees and IDPs or others)?
  • How innovative is the idea to solve the problem?
  • How convincing are the proposed key partners?
  • How convincing is the plan for long-term sustainability?
  • How skilled and experienced is the team?
  • How well does the team/idea fit into the support the Humanitarian Innovation Challenge can offer?
  • The AU strongly encourages diversity/balance in terms of age, gender, language and geography.

How to Apply

  • Applications must be submitted at the address given on the website.
  • Eligible Countries: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the, Cote d’Ivorie, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
  • For more information, please visit https://au.int/en/humanitarianInnovationChallenge

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