Saskia Rotshuizen

Innovations Against Poverty: an overview of the winning ventures!

East Asia and Pacific
Sub-Saharan Africa
11. Jan 2018

Challenge fund programs such as the Innovations Against Poverty Fund are a fantastic way to discover innovative and scalable solutions to societal challenges. Curious about which ventures made it to the IAP final selection? Check out some of them below! For the full round-up, see the program portfolio.


The winning innovations in the WASH category address a wide spectrum of WASH challenges at the BoP. WE Venture (Cambodia) focuses on providing safe drinking water in rural areas via micro-enterprises, leveraging low-cost pipe water supply technology. Desert Rose (Ethiopia) is approaching the access to safe water challenge from a different angle: by embedding the ideation process in the local community, Desert Rose developed innovative water filters designed in Ethiopia for Ethiopians.

Finally, the venture Live Clean Initiatives (Zambia) envisions a sustainable model for offering access to clean and affordable public toilet and shower facilities in peri-urban areas of Zambia. These three selected WASH ventures offer tremendous potential for growth and replication of solutions in neighbouring markets.


With booming internet connectivity and increasing mobile phone penetrations in all emerging markets, some exciting ICT solutions are becoming part of the IAP portfolio. Upgrading on the mobile wallet, Chap Chap Africa Limited (Uganda) developed a phone-based application allowing extreme poor to pay bills, save money and get paid. Such a tool offers great potential for financial inclusion of low-income groups.

From another angle MEDEEM (Zambia) leverages ICT to formalize private land ownership, thereby protecting the source of income of thousands of individuals at the BoP. As these initiatives illustrate we have not yet seen the end of innovation when it comes to ICT solutions in inclusive business.


While internet and phone connectivity in emerging markets are growing rapidly, the same cannot be said for other infrastructure such as access to energy. Among the IAP ventures we observe new business models around existing innovations (such as the efficient cook-stoves of Eco-Group Limited, Uganda), but also novel ways to deliver energy at the last mile. For example, Innovati resources (Zambia) envisions a mobile solar powered kiosk. Via this kiosk - available on a rental or ownership mode - the community can access alternative energy solutions. Not only is this solution promoting renewable sources of energy, it also stimulates local entrepreneurship.

Overlapping with the increasingly dynamic sector of inclusive recycling, Dreamlight Waste Collection and Recycling (Ethiopia) is turning waste into various forms of energy, such as bottled biogas, fuel briquette and organic compost products. The waste-to-energy trend is a welcome growth in many emerging markets.

 Agriculture & Foods

As expected, IAP received the most applications from the Agriculture & Food sector, which also generates the most livelihoods in the target countries.  As noted by Global Evaluator Geertje Otten " we notice an increase in models that leverage franchisees for extension". Lyly Food Industry (Cambodia) reveals a move in a similar direction by developing a network of smallholder vegetable and fruit growers as suppliers, thereby developing a truly inclusive value chain.

In Ethiopia, Dowin Technology created a Custom Hiring Centre where smallholder farmers can rent professional farming machinery at an affordable rate. Using an 'uberization' model, Dowin Technology leverages existing assets in the surroundings, essentially enabling individual owners to share their equipment. The application of an ICT approach in a relatively traditional sector results in a strong innovation.

Finally, presenting a first glimpse into what the future will be like, EntoAfrica (Uganda) farms insects to be turned into nutritious food products, starting with crickets. Insects have repeatedly been hailed as a sustainable future source of protein, and ventures such as EntoAfrica are trailblazing the way.

Congratulations to all winning ventures!

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