The Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator Program seek social enterprises with promising innovations that have (or have a promising potential to create) business models that are built on sustainable social, environmental, and financial principles. Both for-profits and nonprofits are encouraged to apply, but nonprofits should also have–or aspire to have–a significant earned income, market-oriented approach, or consumer payment component to their revenue.

Also Apply: Microsoft Leap Apprenticeship Program 2021


Over the course of the 2-year Accelerator, selected enterprises will receive:

  • $25,000 unrestricted, one-time grant
  • Personalized coaching from social enterprise experts at Duke University and field experts from UNICEF
  • Bespoke mentoring
  • Customized capacity building curriculum
  • Duke University student support
  • Access to our broad networks

Also Apply: Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) Global 2021

Accelerator Awardees should anticipate the following as part of their participation:

  • Participate in online communities and webinars
  • Participate in regular calls for coaching, mentoring, and peer learning
  • Participate in the week-long Duke-UNICEF Virtual Forum on Social Innovation, held twice yearly
  • Develop a capacity-building plan for scaling their impact, with support from the Accelerator team
  • Implement and track progress of a customized capacity-building plan, with support from the accelerator team and other mentors
  • Report relevant program performance and financial data on a semi-annual basis
  • Share insights, promising practices, lessons learned, and other expertize with other social enterprises participating in the accelerator

Eligibility Requirements

The Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator is open to any impact enterprises, working in or across Africa, that meet the following criteria:

  • Is a nonprofit, hybrid, or for-profit social enterprise
  • Has two founders/executives/senior leaders that can represent the enterprise over the course of the 2-year Accelerator and are comfortable working in English
  • Has strong evidence of impact over at least 3 years and has a plan for how to use the Duke-UNICEF award to scale that impact in the next 3-5 years
  • Deploys a promising sanitation and hygiene product and/or service, innovative supply chain model, business model, or other approach that has potential for widespread, sustainable impact
  • Enterprise or enterprise innovation adheres to UNICEF Innovation Principles
  • Active in any country, or multiple countries, in Africa
  • Preference for social enterprises that have existing working relationship (formal or informal) with UNICEF or a UNICEF country office
  • Preference for a diverse, gender-equitable team


If you are eligible for the program, our team will send you the full application. Applications will be accepted on a rolling bases until 11:59pm ET on Friday, March 5, 2021. For questions or concerns, please contact us.


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