Supporting Young Entrepreneurs: UNDP, EPFL, Orange and SAP Open Nominations


Geneva, Switzerland, May 27, 2020// – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Orange and SAP launch the second edition of the Growth Stage Impact Ventures (GSIV) for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) initiative; aimed at identifying and showcasing mature impact ventures in emerging countries with the catalytic potential to drive both large impact and yield sustainable profit.

The top 12 nominated entrepreneurs will be invited to pitch their products and solutions at the SDG Finance Geneva Summit, scheduled to take place in the first quarter of 2021 during the Building Bridges Week and will get support to access strategic partners to scale up their venture.

The 2020 the Call for Nominations only accepts Post Series A impact ventures providing products and services which reduce inequalities (with particular attention to gender inequalities) by providing solutions that empower people at the bottom of the pyramid to access to quality health, affordable and clean energy, and by reducing and recovering waste.

Only ventures with headquarters, primary workforce and service provision or product market in developing countries can be eligible for the selection.

“We are delighted to support UNDP in its focus  on impact ventures that address the SDGs. Contrary to the multitude of awards and competitions targeting early stage start-ups, companies invited to GSIV have the potential to bring about rapid and positive change at scale, targeting in particular the bottom of the pyramid,” said Julia Binder, Project Leader of EPFL Tech4Impact.

UNDP calls for third parties (accelerators, impact funds, family offices, international organizations, etc.) to nominate from their own pipelines, up to 3 entrepreneurs which meet the eligibility criteria. Self nomination is not be accepted. The call will remain open till July 15th.

“The GSIV is a fantastic vehicle to identify top entrepreneurs with solid business models and impact track records from across the developing world. Finalists demonstrate the business case for the SDGs, even in the most difficult contexts and in sectors that are traditionally publicly funded.

In a post Covid19 world in which investments decrease, supporting innovative entrepreneurs from developing countries is a priority”, noted Sarah Bel, Manager of UNDP SDG Finance Geneva Summit.

A first screening of nominees will be carried out by EPFL  to shortlist  the top 20 enterprises. Finalists will then be reviewed by technical experts, investors and UN officials to select the top 12 finalists, who will attend the SDG Finance Geneva Summit, in 2021.

In 2019, 76 third-parties submitted 119 proposals from 40 developing countries. Eighty-five percent of the nominated ventures had raised at least half a million dollars at the time of nomination, and closed their Series A.

All 12 finalists were mid-sized, with an average of up to 50 employees, annual revenue of over US$3 million, and with a cumulative impact on more than 15 million lives through their products and services. Full profiles are available here.

“As a corporate venture capital investor, it has been very exciting to be part of this selection process that puts the spotlight on active ventures which deliver social and environmental impact across their countries. The quality of the applications in 2019 is a great sign of hope with regard to this new generation of entrepreneurs”, added Gregoire de Padirac, Investment Manager, Orange Digital Ventures.

Each venture will be invited to attend a a preparatory workshop and to participate in the SDG Finance Geneva Summit, where they will have the opportunity to pitch to potential partners including investors, large corporates and international organizations.

The GSIV selection takes place within the framework of the SDG Finance Geneva Summit. The broader objective of the summit is to promote SDG aligned investments, showcasing emerging market examples of businesses that do well by doing good.

By bringing together the unique ecosystem of development professionals, investors, development finance institutions, academia and entrepreneurs, UNDP aims to catalyze a shift of capital from mainstream finance to impact investing with a focus on addressing the SDGs.

African Eye Report