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15 Ways Donors Support Digital Startups in Developing Countries

By Wayan Vota on March 3, 2023

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Donors have a crucial role to play in supporting digital startup entrepreneurs in developing countries. USAID, FCDO, and the World Bank help startup technology companies build businesses, create jobs, and contribute to economic growth and development by providing access to funding, technical assistance, markets, and supportive policy environments.

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  • Providing access to startup funding to startups in developing countries. This can be in the form of grants, loans, or other funding mechanisms to help them start or grow their businesses.
  • Offering technical assistance to digital entrepreneurs in developing countries. This can include mentoring, training, and other forms of support to help them build and develop their businesses.
  • Facilitating access to global markets by connecting digital entrepreneurs with potential buyers and investors in their own country and in the global marketplace for venture capital and international trade.
  • Encouraging supportive policy environments that can include creating regulatory frameworks that enable innovation, protecting intellectual property rights, and improving access to digital infrastructure and resources.
  • Fostering digital innovation ecosystems that supports digital entrepreneurship. This can include setting up incubators, accelerators, and other support mechanisms that help startups develop and commercialize their ideas.

Donors recognize that entrepreneurs can contribute to solving development challenges such as access to healthcare, education, and financial services.

5 USAID Programs Supporting Digital Startups:

USAID supports digital startups because they believe that technology and innovation can play a transformative role in development across low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). By investing in digital startups, USAID can help bring new ideas to scale, stimulate local economies, and improve the lives of people in developing countries.

Here are five ways USAID supports digital startup companies reach scale in LMICs:

  • Digital Invest: A new blended finance program that seeks to mobilize private capital for digital finance and internet service providers serving traditionally excluded consumer populations worldwide.
  • Development Innovation Ventures (DIV): An open innovation program that funds breakthrough solutions to the world’s toughest development challenges.
  • Power Africa: A USAID-led initiative that supports access to affordable and reliable energy across sub-Saharan Africa, including through off-grid solutions.
  • All Children Reading: A global innovation program advancing edutech innovation and research to improve reading outcomes for marginalized children in low-resource contexts.
  • Prosper Africa: An initiative that aims to increase two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa by supporting private sector engagement, including digital entrepreneurs

5 FCDO Programs Supporting Digital Startups:

FCDO supports digital entrepreneurs because they believe that digital technology can play a transformative role in achieving their development objectives and promoting economic growth in developing countries. By investing in digital entrepreneurship, FCDO can help bring new ideas to scale that improve the lives of people in LMICs.

Below are five examples of where FCDO supports digital startup entrepreneurs in developing countries:

  • Frontier Technologies: An innovation program that helps FCDO apply frontier technologies to development challenges, such as using drones for humanitarian delivery or solar-powered refrigerators for vaccine storage.
  • UK Aid Connect: A consortia of diverse partners to co-create solutions for complex development challenges, such as promoting digital inclusion or strengthening civil society.
  • Giga Initiative: FCDO, ITU, UNICEF and GSMA aim to connect every school to the internet to improve school connectivity, digital skills and mobile access in underserved areas.
  • Digital Access Programme: A cross-government partnership that aims to catalyse more inclusive, affordable, safe and secure digital access for excluded and underserved communities in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil and Indonesia.
  • Global Innovation Fund: Provides funding and support for innovative digital startups in developing countries. The program is supported by FCDO and other donors to identify innovative solutions to development challenges that show proven, measurable impact.

5 World Bank Programs Supporting Digital Startups

The World Bank supports digital startup entrepreneurs because they recognize the potential of technology and innovation to drive economic growth and reduce poverty in developing countries. The World Bank invests in startups to create new job opportunities, stimulate entrepreneurship, and foster a more competitive business environment in LMICs.

Listed next are five ways the World Bank supports digital startup companies in developing countries:

  • Digital Economy for Africa: An initiative that supports the African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy 2020-2030 by providing financing, technical assistance, policy advice, and knowledge sharing to digitally connect every individual, business and government in Africa by 2030.
  • Digital Development Partnership grants support the work with governments, private sector, NGOs, academia and development partners across the globe to leverage digital technologies and data as a means to accelerate green, inclusive and resilient social and economic development.
  • Government-to-Person Payments initiative brings global knowledge and expertise across sectors to contribute to the broader agenda of improving G2P payments through digitization in ways such that it accelerates critical development outcomes such as financial inclusion and women’s economic empowerment.
  • Cybersecurity Multi-Donor Trust Fund builds countries to be resilient to cyber threats and equips them with knowledge and capabilities to maximize opportunities and manage risks. This is very important in LMICs, which are currently investing heavily in digital infrastructure to rapidly advance their development ambitions.
  • Djibouti Digital Economy Project: A project that aims to accelerate the digital transformation and build a more inclusive digital economy in Djibouti by improving access to broadband services, enhancing digital skills, and supporting innovation.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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2 Comments to “15 Ways Donors Support Digital Startups in Developing Countries”

  1. Honest Nyamya says:

    I am very excited about these donors supporting digital startups like mine. I need funding. Donors can help me get funding I need to grow my business. I want to make money, create jobs, and contribute to my country.

  2. Steve masoo says:

    Am a Malawian man passionate about digital access empowerment more especially among girls and women ,presently working with a local NGO that supports youths in Digital access and livilhood support.we are seeking for funds for more intervations.