Make-IT in Africa unveils Challenge Fund for Innovation Hubs

The tech entrepreneurship initiative ‘ Make-IT in Africa, ‘ initiated by GIZ, calls for innovation hubs and other intermediaries to provide funding for the African startups with creative, market-oriented and sector-specific initiatives. The proposed program would help in the accomplishment of the Sustainable Development Goals. Selected innovation hubs will be funded to execute the initiative by up to € 100,000.

Objectives for the Partners in Acceleration: Challenge Fund for Innovation Hubs

GIZ aims to promote local innovation powered by digital start-ups, facilitated either by a single organization that leverages local networks or by at least two ecosystem players. Innovation hubs should apply with projects that lead to local innovation, approaches that innovate existing systems, leapfrog solutions, and take incubation and acceleration work to new levels. “Outside the box”-thinking and approaches are encouraged.

For Make-IT in Africa, It is essential that the program or elements of the programme contribute to what already exists in the relevant market. It is important for the proposal to clearly explain how the program provides added value to the overall support process for start-ups.

What the Challenge Fund for Innovation Hubs offers

  • Funding to finance projects up the following amounts:
    • Rwanda: one grant, up to 100,000 Euro
    • Ghana: one grant, up to 50,000 Euro
    • Kenya: one grant, up to 100,000 Euro for a project with an agri-tech focus
    • Nigeria: one grant, up to 50,000 Euro
  • Use of the VC4A platform and communication channels for the entrepreneur recruitment campaign, free of charge for selected ESO’s
  • Capacity building for selected teams through webinars and virtual masterclasses
  • Use of various self-learning online resources like Africa Cloud ( or VC4A Startup Academy ( and the GIZ Make-IT handbook “Partners in Acceleration” as resources and support around creating a blended learning model (mix of online and offline) as part of your program
  • International visibility through joining the partner network of Make-IT in Africa and access to international networks of corporates, investors, international organizations active in the African startup ecosystem
  • Start-ups part of program get preferred access to exposure trips and matchmaking facility of Make-IT in Africa
  • Funding might be used to train the organization’s staff

Eligibility criteria

  • The lead applicant based in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria or Rwanda
  • Officially registered NGO or foundation; for-profit company need to partner with a not-for-profit organization
  • At least two years of business activities and audited accounts
  • At least one finalized acceleration program implemented
  • At least 20 supported start-ups to date
  • Minimum of 3 team members, including founder team, program manager and accounting
  • Have access to space to host training and co-working
  • Programme implemented between May and October 2020
  • The program approach is new and innovative, adding important components to existing approaches/programs
  • Activities have not started yet.
  • Grant can be used to co-fund a new activity
  • Grant needs to be used to develop a program or part of a program that would not exist without the funding
  • The activity needs to be not for profit; actual costs will be reimbursed
  • Trainers need to have at least 3 years in training and 5 years of experience in linking start-ups with markets and/or investors

The program should:

  • Have a sector/topic focus
  • Have a specific target group e.g. female entrepreneurs, start-ups from rural areas, etc.
  • Aim at supporting start-ups running operations preparing them for growth (yet, before closing a Series-A round of funding)
  • Aim at start-ups with a business model aimed and/or clearly contributing to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals
  • Offer a new component and/or approach, strengthening acceleration offerings to a new target group, add innovative elements to existing programs – overall, create and test innovative offerings for startups
  • The program should aim at supporting 10-15 companies
  • Be around 3 months in length
  • Preferably, if it is offered by at least two partners, one of which is a not-for-profit organization, the other one a private sector company, a sector organization or (international or local) governmental organization. If only one organization offers the program, it should leverage existing local networks

For more information about this program click here.