Innovations to Empower Women and Girls

Positioning to Scale: Joint Innovation Challenge - 2022

The Innovation Challenge

UNFPA, in partnership with WIPO and ITU, will implement this joint Challenge. The partners will select up to 10 winning proposals from the applying Companies, and provide grants of up to $60,000 per award to position to scale. After the selection of awardees, winning Companies will sign a 9-month contract during which the awardees will fully develop and start implementing their plans to transition to scale, and will receive technical assistance in the focus areas, including intellectual property (IP) management and business modeling. WIPO will provide IP management support tailored to each of the awardees. This will include lectures, mentorship, and interactive workshops, and will be based on WIPO’s IP diagnostic and IP analytic tools. ITU will provide the boot camp for winners, support mentorship, and support scale-up using its ecosystem development, initiatives sustainability, and scale-up frameworks.


In case of a satisfactory result from the evaluation process, the UNFPA-WIPO-ITU Joint Innovation Challenge intends to award the proposals that have obtained the top 10 highest scores. The awards will be made through their appointed representatives and consist of:

  1. An invitation to participate in a virtual boot camp to further refine their plans and their milestones in the project design plan (e.g., market-entry, deployment, impact traction).

  2. Seed funding up to USD 60,000 USD, provided in two tranches, to position to scale their proposed solution, by the project design plan agreed upon with organizers during the boot camp, including a sound budget and a work plan with clear milestones and budget allocation. The second tranche of the award will be given based on demonstrated progress of implementation and achievement of milestones. The awards will be provided by UNFPA subject to the terms and conditions of the funding agreement signed between UNFPA and each awardee Company. A template of the contract can be found here.

  3. Mentorship and training support through the end of December 2022.

Eligibility Criteria

The following criteria will be used in assessing the eligibility of proposals submitted for consideration:

  • The Company must be registered as a company/organization in a UNFPA program country.
  • At the time of application, the Company, including any JV/Consortium members and any of its members, is not under procurement prohibitions derived from the Compendium of United Nations Security Council Sanctions Lists and has not been suspended, debarred, sanctioned, or otherwise identified as ineligible by any UN Organization or the World Bank Group.
  • The innovation must be implemented in the UNFPA program country in which the Company is registered.
  • The proposed innovation should be contributing to one of the following challenges: ending unmet need for family planning, ending preventable maternal deaths, or ending gender-based violence and harmful practices (see descriptions here).
  • The Company must have already tested a prototype, proof of concept, and have a minimum viable product (MVP) that has been piloted and is ready to be positioned to scale. The MVP must belong to the submitting organization.
  • The innovative solution must have a viable pathway to scale and sustainability via the market or public sector (definition as per UN Innovation Toolkit: driving adoption beyond the initial pilot’s target population).
  • There must be either no similar solution to the one being proposed, or the proposed solution delivers more development impact per dollar, or is more cost-effective, than other ways of achieving the same objectives. There must be evidence to support this claim.
  • Proposals must offer innovative solutions that promote the empowerment of women and girls, focusing on ending unmet needs for family planning, preventable maternal deaths, or gender-based violence.

In addition to the eligibility criteria, priority will be given to solutions submitted by women-led enterprises. However, this call is open for all social enterprises working on solutions that address issues within the focus areas (ending unmet need for family planning, ending preventable maternal deaths, and ending gender-based violence and harmful practices).

Only one submission per applying Company is permitted. All submissions must be made in the English language only. Applying Companies will be required to submit proof of their legal registration and proof of initial customers using their solution.

Steps to apply

  1. Register on the UNFPA Ideas Bank
  2. Submit your Expression of Interest (EOI)
  3. Long-listed applicants invited to respond to Request for Proposal (RFP)
  4. Short-listed applicants invited to pitch event
  5. 10 awardees announced
  6. 10 awardees sign contracts, attend boot camp, and implement their plans


April 15, 2022
Organizer UNFPA
Website Visit website
Targets Africa, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Northern Europe
Sectors Sector agnostic
SDG (3)
10. Reduced Inequality, 5. Gender Equality, 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth