KENYA – Startups with solutions addressing barriers to digital inclusion faced by people with disabilities have been invited to apply for up to US$325,000 in grant funding from the latest GSMA Innovation Fund.

The GSMA Innovation Fund for Assistive Tech, supported by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, is looking for startups, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and social enterprises in Africa and Asia that are driving the digital inclusion of people with disabilities.

These solutions will be addressing barriers such as access, affordability, relevance, knowledge and skills, and safety and security. Successful projects will receive an equity-free grant of between GBP100, 000 (US$130,000) and GBP250, 000 (US$325,000) to scale their innovation over a 15 to 18 month period.

It is the latest Innovation Fund run by the GSMA, the most recent one having focused on mobile adoption earlier this year. The organisation said its newest fund was of vital importance given the fact over one billion people need at least one form of assistive technology (AT), but around 90 per cent do not have adequate access to the AT they require.

“Digital assistive technologies, particularly mobile-based ATs, have the potential to be a valuable and cost-effective tool for people with disabilities and this fund aims to support innovators of digital ATs and projects that advance the digital inclusion of people with disabilities and advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” the statement from GSMA said.

“Funded projects will focus on reducing the gap in access and usage of mobile-enabled products or services and will look to demonstrate commercially sustainable models that can be scaled and replicated in similar markets” the statement added.

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