UNICEF Venture Fund
Flexible funding and networks for innovators on the ground
Entrepreneurs in UNICEF programme countries often lack access to flexible funding and the global networks to connect to other problem solvers, mentors and platforms to grow their solutions quickly.
The Venture Fund collaborates with innovators on the ground in UNICEF programme countries to build and test new solutions at the pace required to keep up with the rapidly evolving challenges facing children.
The Venture Fund was launched by UNICEF in 2014 and invested in its first cohort in 2016. Since then, the USD $35 million investment fund has been adapting and evolving in the complex world of identifying and growing innovations for children.
The UNICEF Venture Fund makes $50k–$100K early-stage investments as well as $200k–$400K in growth stage investments in technologies for children developed by UNICEF country offices or companies in UNICEF programme countries. By providing flexible funding to early-stage innovators, the Fund enables UNICEF to quickly assess, fund, and grow open-source technology solutions that show potential to positively impact the lives of vulnerable children.
The Objective is to identify and pilot promising frontier technologies to develop scalable platforms that UNICEF can use in a range of applications and country settings. The fund seeks to achieve this by identifying clusters or portfolios of initiatives around emerging technology - so that UNICEF can shape markets, learn from and provoke these technology sectors to benefit children. Such an investment method allows UNICEF to take small risks within particular technology portfolios, and ensure that even if many of the investments fail, the portfolio is a success.
The Portfolio includes 147 investments, including 81 to startup companies in countries where UNICEF is active. The Fund aims to grow its portfolio by 30 investments every year.
In 2023, the Fund invested in its first Climate Tech Cohort of innovative companies that are leveraging frontier technologies to strengthen climate resilience. Expanding the Fund’s reach to a diverse range of countries such as Trinidad & Tobago, Uganda, Mali, Timor Leste, Cameroon, and Albania---with four of these solutions led or founded by women---this cohort encompasses a diverse array of solutions, including but not limited to early warning systems, waste management platforms, community engagement initiatives, solarization efforts, and greenhouse gas accounting and estimation tools.