The UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency, UNFPA, has announced the ten winners of its first ever Joint Innovation Challenge; a cutting edge competition to provide funding for social enterprises with innovative solutions that advance the empowerment of women and girls worldwide.
The challenge was financed by UNFPA’s Equalizer Accelerator Fund, and implemented in cooperation with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the International Trade Centre.
Entrants were given the incentive of a cash prize which would allow them to expand their ideas from the test stage, to full production, for the potential benefit of millions around the world.
The challenge received further funding from the Governments of Luxembourg, Finland, and Denmark. Launched in 2021, UNFPA’s Fund provides equity-free investments in social enterprises that are led or co-led by women, and can show evidence of the impact they will have.
Key to progress
Dr. Natalia Kanem, UNFPA’s Executive Director said, in relation to the competition that “creative thinking and innovative solutions are key to accelerate progress for women and girls around the world.”
The 2022 challenge is awarding ten women-helmed organizations hailing from five different regions globally.
Initially, a panel of experts received 300 submissions from 61 countries. After 20 finalists pitched their innovative ideas to the panel, the eventual 10 winners then signed nine-month contracts with UNFPA and will be receiving an equity-free investment of $60,000.
The funding will allow winning organizations to transition away from the pilot stage, and begin manufacturing at scale.
UNFPA and its partners will also support the social enterprises with targeted mentorship, training opportunities, interactive workshops, and unique access to the global UN network.
The winning ideas varied in function, but were united in ingenuity, said the agency. Examples of winning designs ranged from a portable diagnostic system for pre-eclampsia, to a board game that disseminates information on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
See below for the full list of winners from around the world:
Foundation Paniamor, Costa Rica
Foundation Paniamor as developed a novel digital toolkit for adolescent girls to help prevent and respond to online violence.
GerHub reaches women and girls in remote areas with information and sexual and reproductive health services through mobile clinics and telemedicine.
The Global Pre-Eclampsia Initiative, Uganda
A portable diagnostic system that helps pregnant women with early detection, timely referral, and effective management of pre-eclampsia – a life-threatening hypertensive disorder causing up to 10 per cent of pregnancy-related deaths in Africa.
Hillspring Diagnostics, Nigeria
A revolutionary method for detecting ectopic pregnancy, a condition which can have dangerous consequences including death of the mother and baby, if not diagnosed and treated in time.
Impact Innovations Institute, Armenia
The SafeYou app, is a unique digital solution that provides women and girls with security functions to protect them against violence, and offers tools for survivors.
An immersive augmented reality experience that aims to stop gender-based violence by introducing users to simulations based on women’s real-life experiences.
Tirando X Colombia, based in Colombia
An AI-enhanced chatbot that provides adolescent girls with quality sexual and reproductive health information and services, helping to end the cycle of poverty generated by many teenage pregnancies.
A one-stop family health and wellbeing platform that provides access to family planning, reproductive health information, and services for young women and new mothers.
Urukundo Initiative, Rwanda
Urukundo Life Skills Board Game is the first ever licensed low-tech educational game in Rwanda that disseminates information on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Women in Entrepreneurship and Technology (WETECH), Cameroon
A community hub and women’s innovation centre, that offers a digital tool that connects survivors and persons at risk of gender-based violence via a secure and confidential messaging platform.