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UNHCR Innovation Service: Refugee-led Innovation Fund 2023- Applications close

June 30

The Refugee-led Innovation Fund is open to applications from refugee-led organizations in all countries. Applications close 30 June 2023 at 23:59. UNHCR colleagues seeking support for innovative ideas should explore our Funds focusing on datadigital, and environment and climate action innovation.

Vision and objective

The Refugee-led Innovation Fund champions the creativity of all displaced and stateless people. It aims to reshape their participation in the delivery of humanitarian work by ensuring they take center stage in the decisions affecting their lives, leading the identification of needs and the design of innovative solutions.

The Fund provides holistic support – combining financial resources, mentoring, and other expertise – directly to refugee-led organizations, to enable them to design and deliver new interventions that have a lasting positive impact on their communities.

About the Fund

Organizations led by displaced and stateless people make remarkable contributions to their communities but face considerable challenges in accessing direct and flexible funding. Too often, they are excluded from existing networks of entrepreneurs and innovators, resulting in poor access to knowledge, information, and resources that could help them amplify their impact.

The Refugee-led Innovation Fund proposes a fundamental shift in program architecture. It takes a grassroots approach whereby people who have experienced forced displacement are provided with meaningful financial resources and support to implement innovative strategies.

What the Fund offers 

Selected organizations can expect the following support:

  1. Financial support: Organizations can apply for up to 45,000 USD in funding to test and implement ideas with strong community approaches that generate value for community members, not specifically linked to any thematic area or technology.
  2. Program and project management support: Grantees will receive assistance from UNHCR and experts to help build their capacity to design and implement programs effectively.
  3. Technical support, expertise, and coaching: Needs-based specialist advice will be offered, on topics ranging from technology to legal support and innovation methodologies.
  4. Peer-to-peer networking: Supported organizations will be encouraged to engage with each other, share experiences, learn from each other, and explore partnerships.
  5. Other support based on project needs: This could include organizational support, help with project sustainability and scale, training on specific topics, business model advice, and media and communications support.


Who can apply

The Fund supports innovation by all organizations led by people with lived experience of forced displacement, including refugees, asylum-seekers, the internally displaced, returnees, and stateless people.

Applicants are asked to apply as a team, usually as part of an existing organization. The Fund accepts applications from both registered and unregistered organizations. Additional attention will be given to ensuring organizations led by LGBTIQ+ persons, women, people with disabilities, and other underrepresented groups receive support and encouragement to apply to the Fund.

How to apply

Applications go through a two-stage selection process.

In the first stage, organizations are invited to submit a brief expression of interest by 30 June 2023 at 23:59 CET. This expression of interest will provide a short overview of the identified challenge and proposed solution. The Innovation Service will review these applications and identify a shortlist of applications.

In the second stage, shortlisted organizations will have a further three weeks to submit a full application. They will receive support from the Innovation Service and UNHCR country offices to develop and submit these detailed applications.



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