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iIMAGINEghana: The Social Innovators Challenge-Question & Answer Guidelines

Q: What is this project? / What is the iIMAGINEghana?

iIMAGINEghana is a competition that UNICEF Ghana has launched together with the non-profit foundation, Reach for Change (R4C).  It is an initiative that we have launched to improve the lives of children here in Ghana. The goal is to support up to 10 local social entrepreneurs and bring their ideas to life through financial support from UNICEF and mentorship through the Reach for Change incubator.

It is a competition, and up to 10 social entrepreneurs will receive the necessary support to grow their ideas into a sustainable business. The ideas can come from either for profit or non-profit initiatives as long as they work to improve children’s lives and create social impact.

R4C will partner with UNICEF to call for innovative ideas addressing children’s rights in the following areas:


Child Protection

Health & Nutrition

Water Sanitation and Hygiene

Voice and Youth Participation  

Q: How does the collaboration between UNICEF and Reach for Change work?

The idea behind iIMAGINEghana is to combine the strengths of two organisations who both care about the welfare and development of children, UNICEF and Reach for Change. The collaboration will select up to 10 Social Innovators, who are addressing key issues that affect children in Ghana in an innovative and impactful way and whose work is aligned to UNICEF’s priorities in Ghana.

Q: What or who is a Social Innovator?

A Social Innovator is a social entrepreneur. It’s a person who has identified a problem in society and has a great idea of how to fix it. Just like a business entrepreneur, a social entrepreneur needs to be innovative and have a relentless drive to get things done. The Social Innovator wants to change and improve the lives of children. And if they want to win the support of UNICEF and Reach for Change, they need to submit a strong and convincing application that their idea is worthy of a place in the Reach for Change incubator.

Q: How does this incubator work?

The incubator is a support program or springboard for social entrepreneurs. In this incubator the smartest, bravest and most passionate change agents on the child rights field receive financial support and coaching in areas such as business development, leadership and expansion strategy. The aim is to create innovative, sustainable and scalable ventures with the power to alter societies around the world, creating better lives for children. 

Q: How will the iIMAGINEghana challenge work?

The Search & Selection process will launch in January 2015 and conclude in March 2015. The Call for Applications is the first step in the Search and Selection process, and will consist of a campaign, talent scouting and stakeholder engagement to source quality candidates. There will be a rigorous selection process after which up to 10 candidates will be chosen in Ghana. A Funding grant is disbursed to up to 10 Social Innovators to be used for the growth and development of their venture and will also received support from Reach for Change to start developing their idea. Different grant sizes will be awarded to these on a needs basis as identified during the final selection.

Q: Why is UNICEF doing this?

In 2014, innovation is vital to the state of the world's children. Challenges have never been larger, or coming faster – urbanization, climate change, lack of employment opportunities, broken education systems, increased disparities and digital divides. However, a new global infrastructure is being created that has potential to address these challenges. This is an infrastructure of openness, of collaboration across borders, of exploration, and of innovation for equity. With the innovation incubator in Ghana, we want to contribute to improved problem solving. We hope to identify and support local ideas that help us address some of the remaining challenges for Ghana to realize the rights of all children.

Q: Why is Reach for Change doing this?

At R4C we believe the best way to create social change is to give the right tools to people who are passionate and who have the entrepreneurial drive to make lasting systemic change. This partnership with UNICEF provides a medium to further improve the lives of children here in Ghana. This is done by leveraging social entrepreneurship as a pathway to carve out unique solutions which address the problems faced by children.  Our goal is help social innovators to develop and scale the impact of their work with the objective of  making the world a better place for children.

Q: Is there another country where Social Innovators is running in?

No, currently it is running for the first time in Ghana.

Q: When will the final Social Innovators be selected?

In March 2015.

Q: Who is UNICEF?

UNICEF is the driving force that helps build a world where the rights of every child are realized. We have the global authority to influence decision-makers, and the variety of partners at grassroots level to turn the most innovative ideas into reality.  That makes us unique among world organizations, and unique among those working with the young.

We believe that nurturing and caring for children are the cornerstones of human progress.  UNICEF was created with this purpose in mind – to work with others to overcome the obstacles that poverty, violence, disease and discrimination place in a child’s path.  We believe that we can, together, advance the cause of humanity.

Read more about UNICEF by visiting:

Q: Who is Reach for Change?

Reach for Change is an international non-profit foundation, which was co-founded by MTG and the other Kinnevik Group companies in 2010. Reach for Change supports social entrepreneurs who improve the lives of children. The foundation selects driven entrepreneurs with strong ideas that are likely to have a clear positive impact. Their projects are anchored in the local communities, and RFC supports them in their development through funding and expert coaching on all aspects of business development. In 2013, Reach for Change supported a total of 46 social entrepreneurs. As a result, overall Reach for Change helped local communities and entrepreneurs improve the lives of over one million children worldwide.

Read more about Reach for Change by visiting: or write to

When will the final Social Innovators be selected?

In March 2015.

How can I apply for support?

You apply online by completing the Application and submitting this to us within the application period. Read more about the Application Process below.

How will you choose who gets the support?

We are looking for exceptional individuals with innovative ideas and initiatives who are willing to work full time on making the idea grow and who have the entrepreneurial drive to succeed. We have a broad and extensive selection process, where both our partner company co-workers and external experts are involved to choose the most entrepreneurial and innovative individuals with the most powerful ideas. 

What kind of support will I get if my idea is selected?

The selected individuals will receive tools and support to develop and scale their ideas. They will receive salary funding, advice, and coaching from our partners. We will monitor their progress over time to ensure they meet agreed on Key Performance Indicators. The salary funding is meant to allow these individuals to focus full-time on developing their ideas and activities. 

How many social innovators will you support?

Up to 10 social innovators will be placed in the incubator programme, depending on the number and quality of applications received. 

Who will decide who gets funding?

We have a broad and extensive selection process, where both partner co-workers and external experts are involved. The applicants that make it through the first step of the application process will be asked to submit additional information. A jury of senior managers from our partners and the Reach for Change foundation will make the final decision.

What happens after I have submitted my idea?

The applications will be evaluated, and the applicants that meet the selection criteria will be asked to submit more information. To find out whether your idea has passed on to the second step of the selection process you can log on to your personal account at If you chose to submit an email address you will also be notified via email.

Can I apply with more ideas than one?

We allow only one idea per person. Choose the ideas that you believe in the most and that you are the most passionate about.

Is there a limit to the length of the application?

Yes. In the online application form you will see how many characters you can use for each question. We ask you to keep your answers short, concise and to the point

I'm not sure how to answer a specific question. I don't understand what the question is asking for?

You will find explanations to the questions in the Application Guide which you can view online.

Can two or more people apply collectively with the same idea?

If you are two co-leaders, with the same role, you can both apply, but you should only submit one application. You can explain that you are two people in the answers to the questions that ask you to describe yourself. However, note that you will only receive one space in the incubator to share. Alternatively decide which of you is best suited to lead and have that person submit the application. More than two people is not recommended.

How do I know if my application has been submitted?

You will see that your application is marked “submitted” when you are logged on to your account.

When I log on to my account, there is no application registered, although I applied yesterday. What has happened?

Then it seems your application was not submitted, we would ask you to do it again (provided the deadline has not passed). Make sure your idea is marked as “submitted” in your account before you finish.

Can I meet you in person to present my project?

Only written applications that have been submitted on the website can be processed. However, if the application goes through to the final round you will be invited to present it in person.

We will arrange opportunities to discuss your idea while you are working on your application. If you create an account on our website, you will receive more information about times and places via that account - and on your email if you have submitted it.

One of the selection criteria is social impact – what does it mean?

With social impact we mean the impact on children's lives. We are specifically looking for ideas that can solve pressing problems for many children. It can be a solution, in the form of a product, service or a system that provides a clear solution to a major societal problem for children that is not currently being addressed.

One of the selection criteria is financial sustainability – what does it mean?

With financial sustainability we mean that there is a business model or a financial strategy that can sustain the operations in the long term. We give support for one year with possible extensions, and during that period we expect the individual selected to build a model for the operations to become self-sustainable. That is that it can sustain and continue to scale without financial support from Reach for Change and our partner companies.

One of the selection criteria is scalability – what does it mean?

The ideas must be scalable, meaning that they eventually will change the lives of many children. It may start in a small scale but which over the years gains national, regional or even global significance.

One of the selection criteria is system change – what does it mean?

It means that we want to support brave ideas with potential to alter society and make a difference in a longer perspective. It might be the start of a revolutionary idea, one that acts as a catalyst for social change.

How do you define children – what ages?

We define children in this context as up to 18 years old.

Do I need to have an existing organization or company in place to apply?

No, but you must be doing something, even on a small scale with your initiative.  However, if selected you would have to register an organization or a company.

Can a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) or a company apply for support?

The support will be given to individuals. Organizations and companies can apply, but the application needs to come from an individual - an entrepreneur - representing the organization or the company. Typically it would be the founder. We can only support a company if the overall goal of the operations is to create social impact, and all revenue is re-invested into the operations for the time of support.

Are you looking for new ideas or can existing organizations apply?

We are looking for early stage social entrepreneurs. By this we mean individuals whose ideas have not yet reached their full potential. This can be:

Individuals with a brand new idea (but are doing something already with this idea);

Individuals who have built an organization that is still not fully developed because the individual has not been able to focus fully on the idea/organization;

Individuals who have built an organization that has run for some time, but who need support to change the direction of the operations or take on a new and bigger challenge.

However, we are NOT looking for:

A short-term project especially one which is planned to end when the funding ends, e.g. a film project. We fund ideas to establish or grow an entire organization or movement. We do not fund short-term projects.

A long-term project that is a small part of a bigger organization, e.g. school feeding program as a small part of a school. The funding goes to a social entrepreneur and his/her entire organization (the school) and not to a small project. The idea submitted should be an idea to establish or grow an organization or movement. Not one of many projects that an organization works with.

Is it business ideas that you are looking for?

We are looking for powerful ideas that can improve the lives of many children. The ideas need to include some kind of entrepreneurial model and have the potential to become financially sustainable. However, the overall goal of the social entrepreneur must be to create social impact, not to generate profit.

For how long will I get the support?

The support is given for one year. After each year, the collaboration will be evaluated, and a decision on whether to continue for one more year will be taken.

What am I required to do if I get the support?

First and foremost, you are required to work full time and put your energy into developing and scaling your idea. You will also have to do extensive reporting so that we can evaluate the social impact and the progress of the work. 



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