Youth-led Innovation Challenge for Social Impact, Egypt

Supporting locally led innovations to address socio-economic challenges


Locally-led innovative action has the potential to address numerous socio-economic challenges including those related to Covid-19, unemployment, high energy costs, limited agricultural development, technological constraints, etc.

Are you motivated to address the crisis in creative ways that can help your immediate community, customers, suppliers and business model?

If yes, then please apply to the Youth-led Innovation Challenge for Social Impact.

Have you built, created or thought of innovative solutions to various socio-economic challenges affecting your community, then we want to hear from you? Whether you are an impact driven startup or SME in Egypt, you can apply to the Youth-led Innovation Challenge and receive support for your ideas. Read on for more information!

The Work in Progress! Alliance is an initiative that seeks to enable young people from diverse backgrounds to generate sustainable living wages and create optimism about their future in Egypt, Nigeria and Somalia. Sponsored by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Alliance consists of Oxfam Novib, Venture Capital for Africa, Butterfly Works and a number of national partners in our project countries.

The Social Impact Innovation Challenge is a competition that Oxfam is launching in Egypt, Nigeria and Somalia. It will provide two €10,000 awards in each country.

Additionally, the winners of the Challenge will be eligible for technical support from our partners including the possibility of mentorship from Innovation Challenge participants in the other project countries. The award is meant to assist each winner develop, implement and put in full operation an innovative solution to help alleviate their community or business from the impact of the Coronavirus or other socio-economic challenges.

Through this innovation challenge, The Work in Progress! project aims to support and learn from youth-initiated innovative action that addresses a common challenge across all three project countries. Successful project experiences and lessons learned will be shared through the Work in Progress! and Oxfam networks.

Selection process

This Innovation Challenge is for young people, startups and small businesses registered in Egypt, Nigeria and Somaliland. Candidates will apply online by completing an application form (below), elaborating plans for the innovation project, presenting a proof of concept and budget. A panel of judges will review and score all applications and invite the best applicants to pitch their ideas and proposals through a virtual presentation. The panel will then select two winners (per country).


  • The deadline for applications is 2 October, 2020(extended by 1 week).
  • Applicants will be invited to present their pitches via a video link after the shortlisting is done by the judges.
  • Winners will be notified shortly thereafter, following which grant contracts will be processed.
  • The innovation projects will be implemented from October 2020 – February 2021.

Eligibility criteria

  • The principal applicant (owner or founder of the enterprise) must be under 35 years of age.
  • Preference will be given to female-led innovators and to Work in Progress! project participants (former and current).
  • In case of a startup or SME, the applicant must be a registered company in Egypt, Nigeria or Somaliland.
  • The applicant confirms that the individual or company is not in any way involved in activities such as arms, tobacco, alcohol and gambling industries, registered in so-called tax-havens, or involved in environmental or human rights abuses or corruption.
  • The proposed innovation project can be implemented in the period of Oct 2020 – Feb 2021.

Assessment criteria 

  1. Creative and innovative solution (25%): The project idea clearly demonstrates a new or innovative approach to tackling social issues affecting communities we live in. The project identifies a specific challenge and applies a creative, social or technical solution that is not widely being applied elsewhere. The idea does not have to be original, but it should be creative (a fresh take on an old idea can be worth as much as a brand new idea). The impact focus on youth and women is important.
  2. Viability of proposal (25%): The proposed project is described clearly and is relevant to addressing the problem or need identified. It is viable and feasible to implement the project in a short time frame. The budget is realistic considering the proposed activities and time frame. The applicant’s own contribution (financial or material) will be considered a plus.
  3. Strength of team / entrepreneur (25%): The team has the qualifications and experience to implement the project successfully. Motivation and ideas are clearly communicated. The team has unquestionable integrity. Having women on the team is considered a plus.
  4. Potential for sustainability (25%): The ability to recreate the innovation/approach is crucial to helping other affected regions or communities. The innovative proposal should, therefore, be potentially replicable or scalable either through effective demonstration or documentation. In the case of applications by business enterprises, the innovation should show a clear business model with a realistic growth strategy.

Non-eligible costs

  • Purchasing and rent/leasing of land or buildings/facilities;
  • Bank charges, cost of guarantees and similar charges;
  • Overhead costs such as office supplies, support staff, management;
  • Value and registration costs of intellectual property rights.

Apply now

We are accepting applications from eligible startups and SMEs with a fully developed idea/concept addressing the above-mentioned challenges. Please register and fill in the applicable form below.

I’m applying as a startup or SME


October 2, 2020
Program dates Oct 15, 2020 - Feb 15, 2021
OrganizerWork in Progress! Alliance
Targets Egypt, Nigeria, Somalia
Sectors Sector agnostic