Elizabeth Godo | Palladium - May 20 2020
COVID-19 Innovation Challenge in Tanzania

Source: HDIF

The world is united as it confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Human Development Innovation Fund (HDIF), a UKAid-funded program in Tanzania, is launching a COVID-19 Response Challenge that aims to find, support, and amplify innovative, market-ready solutions that address the effects of the pandemic.

The challenge offers a platform to local innovators, including the opportunity to pitch to potential supporting partners, a cash award of up to TZA 30 million (USD 13,000), and up to 3 months of advisory support from the HDIF team.

The UN anticipates that COVID-19 will have a devastating impact on Tanzania’s economy, the incomes of businesses and individuals, and the government’s ability to provide social and economic services. “This impact is going to be exacerbated for vulnerable women and youth, such as those in the informal sector, rural communities, people living with disability and marginalised urban dwellers,” says Joseph Manirakiza, HDIF Country Director.

“Like many countries, we’ve seen a lot of enterprising individuals coming up with local, innovative solutions to contribute to the fight,” explains Rabia Nustrat, HDIF Project Manager. “From behaviour change to supporting social distancing, hand washing hygiene, and supply chain solutions, to more sophisticated technological innovations such as 3D printing of PPE, we’re looking to provide a platform for the very best of these innovators.”

HDIF’s goal is to improve the lives of Tanzanians by funding sustainable solutions for improving the quality and impact of basic services. The program funds new ideas from pilot and scale up, connects innovators to other sources of financing, and enables governments, funders, and the private sector to innovate together. Since 2013, HDIF has invested over £23.5 million into these projects.

According to Manirakiza, Tanzania’s innovation ecosystem has seen immense growth over the years, and now includes Data Labs, Arts Spaces, incubators, accelerators, and technology hubs – in both Dar es Salaam and spread across the country.

“There are so many innovative ideas that can benefit from this kind of platform, and we’re very excited to see what gets submitted,” he says. “We’ve been in this ecosystem for quite a while, but we can’t pretend to know all that there is. This is another avenue for us to uncover more and expand our support and impact.”

The COVID-19 Response Challenge is looking for viable solutions that have already been piloted in Tanzania, with the capacity to be deployed immediately. Submissions should address the impacts of COVID-19 on health; education; water, sanitation and hygiene; or early childhood development.

According to Nustrat, this challenge is the first of several that HDIF will be running, most of them co-designed with partners who have expressed interest in using a platform like this one to identify innovations to support in their areas of interest. “We will be using this challenge as a test case for more to come.”

The Human Development Innovation Fund (HDIF) is a UKAid-funded program managed by Palladium in partnership with KPMG and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS).