Five African startups are among 11 companies using frontier technology solutions to address complex challenges and create fairer opportunities for children and young people selected to receive equity-free seed funding from UNICEF’s Innovation Fund.
The latest cohort of the grant-based UNICEF Innovation Fund focused on solutions that bridge learning or connectivity gaps towards employability, tackling the fact that nearly four billion people remain unconnected to the internet and by extension digital products that could improve their lives.
After launching a call for applications issued around skills and connectivity for youth, the fund received over 350 submissions from more than 60 countries, and has now selected 11 startups from nine countries to address four “Global Breakthrough” areas: job-matching, remedial learning, remote learning and work, and digital connectivity.
They include five from Africa, two of which are Egyptian, namely VRapeutic, which develops personalised VR content for children diagnosed with ADHD and autism; and Agora for Education and Development, a game-based guided learning app for children and augmented reality content creation platform.
The rest of the African startups selected for the cohort are South African job-matching portal Giraffe, Kenyan digital learning platform Angaza Elimu, and Tanzanian health assistant tool Inspired Ideas. The rest of the cohort is made up of companies from Chile, India, the Philippines, Pakistan, and Serbia.
The selected companies will benefit from the seed investment provided by UNICEF, and will also gain access to support from UNICEF’s innovation team and networks.
With UNICEF’s support, Giraffe plans to develop a jobseeker content portal to enable young people to upskill themselves and increase their employability. The educational content will be based on Giraffe’s extensive labour market data that shows what skills are in demand for which there is insufficient supply.
“We are truly honoured to be working with UNICEF to evolve our job matching platform as we move into our next stage of growth. The education and employment of the youth – especially in Africa – are critical to ensure inclusive growth, reduce poverty and inequality, and pave the way towards a world that is more just for all,” said chief executive officer (CEO) Anish Shivdasani.