Despite an increasing number of mobile products and services in emerging markets, for most start-ups reaching scale is still a challenge. The UK government-funded GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund works to overcome this challenge and bridge the gap between operators and local start-ups.  Based on previous successful engagements with GMSA, Coffey, A Tetra Tech Company, was selected to be the fund manager for this project.

By enabling strong partnerships between start-ups and operators, the Fund supports growth of commercially sustainable mobile products and services. This will help innovative start-ups to secure the funding and direction they require in order to bring their products and services to scale. In turn, mobile operators benefit by gaining access to the most promising ideas. Overall, the Fund enables the most impactful mobile solutions to be brought to the people and places that need them most, generating significant socio-economic impact.

Our team is responsible for setting up all processes, policies, and procedures related to the fund management of the program. Our work includes finalizing eligibility criteria, managing and providing input on the selection process, reviewing all pitches and proposals, coordinating the independent review panel; advising on legal, ethical, reputational and financial due diligence; managing fund disbursement, including monitoring; and communicating with all involved stakeholders.

Start-ups from almost all African countries and from selected Asian countries are eligible to apply to the Fund, which will run in several rounds.

The first stage of the selection process has been concluded. More than 400 applications have been received, demonstrating great appetite from African and Asian start-ups. Coffey and GSMA have invited the 30 best applicants to prepare full business cases as part of their proposal.  At the end of January 2017, an  independent review panel will select 10 to 12 start-ups to sponsor, and funds will be dispersed shortly thereafter.