Smart Communities Coalition Innovation Fund

The Smart Communities Coalition Innovation Fund (SCCIF) aims to bring private sector-led innovative solutions to displaced populations and crisis-affected host communities to develop service delivery, economically empower displaced populations and contribute to economic and social integration. The fund is designed to address three strategic pillars to trigger a paradigm shift in humanitarian settings – energy, connectivity, and digital tools.

SCCIF – Second Call for Proposals! 

The Smart Communities Coalition Innovation Fund (SCCIF) was launched in 2020 and aims to bring private sector-led, innovative solutions to displaced populations and crisis-affected host communities.

Following the first successful call for proposals, the SCCIF is launching a second call for proposals focusing on the nexus of modern energy services with connectivity and digital tools (or both) for refugee-hosting areas in Uganda. Ideas for new nexus projects as well as the addition of a connectivity or digital tools component to an existing energy project or business are welcome.

Successful proposals will receive EUR 40,000 to EUR 80,000 to implement innovative, sustainable approaches for delivering services linking energy with connectivity and digital tools (or both) with a view to create economic opportunities for forcibly displaced persons and their host communities. The implementation period is set to September 2022 to September 2023.

If you are a company, (social) entrepreneur, or financial services provider and wish to contribute to the Smart Community Coalitions mission of advancing the deployment of economic infrastructure in displacement settings yourself or as part of a consortium, the SCCIF secretariat would like to receive your application. Locally-led enterprises, including those led by refugees and/or host communities, are particularly encouraged to apply.

The second Call for Proposals is open from May 10 until June 1, 2022. Applications can only be submitted electronically using the SCCIF application form. Please submit the completed application and a copy of the legal registration of the lead applicant in Uganda to by June 1, 2022, 23:59 CEST.

Important: Further information on eligibility criteria, eligible technologies, funding amounts, eligible locations, etc. can be accessed in the FAQ section

Question or points for clarification can be submitted in writing to until May 20, 2022. Responses will be provided by email within three business days. A summary of questions and answers that are relevant to all applicants will later also be published on the SCCIF website. 

SCCIF Second Call for Proposals Launch Questions & Answers

1. What is the Smart Communities Coalition (SCC)?

Established in January 2018, the Smart Communities Coalition (SCC), co-chaired by Mastercard and USAID, enables innovative, sustainable approaches to the delivery of basic services, creating economic opportunity for the forcibly displaced and their host communities. Its network of public and private organizations boasts 50+ members and focuses on three utilities: energy, connectivity, and digital tools.

2. What is the Smart Communities Coalition Innovation Fund (SCCIF)?

The Smart Communities Coalition Innovation Fund (SCCIF) seeks to advance and accelerate co-designed and co-implemented public-private programs in the humanitarian context. The Fund is managed by EnDev with funding from USAID and others and offers financing windows to selected projects. Key learning from supported projects will be collected and communicated to contribute to the global learning agenda.

The SCCIF’s first window focused solely on access to modern energy services, providing support to (social) entrepreneurs, companies, financial service providers, and consortia to expand their delivery chains and bring innovative solutions to displaced populations including refugee camps, settlements and host communities in refugee-hosting areas.

The second window, which was launched on May 10, 2022, will support innovative nexus solutions for delivering basic modern energy, connectivity and digital services for refugee-hosting areas in Uganda.

3. Who can apply?

The Innovation Fund accepts applications from individual private companies, (social) entrepreneurs and financial service providers as well as consortia. Locally-led enterprises, including those led by refugees and/or host communities, are particularly encouraged to apply.

To be eligible, individual private companies, (social) entrepreneurs and financial service providers need to:

  • have a legal personality i.e. be registered in Uganda (documentation to be submitted upon application), and
  • have been active in the Ugandan energy and / or connectivity sector for at least two years.

Prior experience working with international development partners and the promotion of gender equality within the organisation are advantageous.

Please note that selected applicants will undergo a commercial suitability check covering among others the criteria outlined above in more details as well as accounting practices. Only selected applicants that successfully pass the commercial suitability check will be able to receive funding.

Eligible companies, entrepreneurs and microfinance institutions may choose to submit a proposal as part of a consortium with e.g. NGOs, United Nations and intergovernmental organisations, local and national governmental agencies. While only the lead applicant needs to fulfill the criteria set out above, pass the commercial suitability check, and will be the signatory to the grant agreement, all other consortium partners need to be registered within Uganda.

4. Which countries are being targeted under the current call?

The current call will support innovative solutions for refugee hosting areas in Uganda. These areas currently include :

  • Adjumani
  • Isingiro
  • Kampala
  • Kamwenge
  • Kikuube
  • Kiryandongo
  • Kyegegwa
  • Koboko
  • Lamwo
  • Madi-Okollo
  • Obongi
  • Terego
  • Yumbe

5. Which technologies will be supported?

Any products linking electricity from renewable energy sources (i.e. solar, hydro, wind, biomass) with connectivity and / or access to digital tools (or both) are eligible under the second call. Given the limited capacity of solar lanterns and the objective of the second call, solutions to commercially advance solar lantern value chains are not eligible.

The following list provides illustrative examples of eligible technologies and projects:

  • Wireless and broadband powered by stand-alone solar systems or mini-grids
  • Information and communication technologies (ICT) for education and employment powered by standalone solar systems or mini-grids.
  • Digital financial services powered by stand-alone solar systems or mini-grids
  • Energy kiosks offering energy access products and digital services, for example content-as-a-service hubs

Both ideas for new nexus projects as well as the addition of a connectivity or digital tools component to an existing energy project or business are welcome.

When considering biomass technologies, applicants need to indicate the type of electricity conversion technology (gasification, biogas, straight vegetable oil etc.) and feedstock that will be used.

6. I want to work with host communities, is this possible?

Yes, if these host communities are established in refugee-hosting areas within Uganda (for further details on eligible areas see question four above).

7. How much funding is available?

The current call will award a total of EUR 220,000 to multiple applicants. Successful applicants will receive between EUR 40,000 to EUR 80,000, depending on the stated needs and business model.

8. What is the implementation timeframe?

Selected projects will be implemented between September 2022 and September 2023.

9. What are the eligibility criteria for applications?

To be eligible, applications need to:

  • be complete (no missing information),
  • focus on refugees and refugee-hosting communities in respective districts of Uganda (see question four for details),
  • include an electricity access and connectivity and / or digitalization component (This can include ideas for new nexus projects or adding a connectivity or digital tools component to an existing energy project. Please note that solar lanterns are not eligible.), 
  • include a lead partner with at least two years of experience operating in the Ugandan energy and / or connectivity sector, and
  • include Ugandan registration documents for the lead consortium partner (see question four above for further details).

Applications must meet all criteria to be considered for a grant.

10. How will the applications be evaluated?

Eligible applications will be evaluated by a team of independent evaluators with expertise on humanitarian energy, connectivity, digital tools and business development. The evaluation committee will submit its recommendations to the project steering group which will take the final decision. The steering group consists of the funders of the SCCIF and its implementer, EnDev. Following the steering group's decision, EnDev will approach selected applicants to enter into contract negotiation and request additional information (i.e. a more detailed budget and implementation timeline, information to perform a commercial suitability check, etc.).

11. I am interested and there is no open call, what should I do?

If you are interested, please send an email to You will be included in our mailing list and will receive further information once a call for proposals opens. The next call will open on May 9, 2022.

12. I represent a donor and I love the idea of the SCCIF, whom should I contact?

Please contact us at and we will arrange next steps.

Congratulations to the first set of SCCIF winners!

E-Bikes advance mobility in displacement settings in Kenya Solar E-Cycles Kenya Limited

The Smart Communities Coalition Innovation Fund (SCCIF) awarded three grants to companies that will use renewable energy technologies to increase access to electricity in refugee-hosting areas of Kenya and Uganda.

The three awardees, chosen from more than 70 project ideas submitted through SCCIF’s first financing window – a competitive call for proposals focused on energy — will implement activities that will benefit nearly 3,000 displaced and host community households:

  • Moban Savings and Credit Cooperative Society (SACCO), BiziSol and OffGridBox will establish a solar-powered solution providing clean and affordable energy, drinking water and connectivity, in the Nakivale refugee settlement in Uganda;
  • PHB Development, Yelekeni Farmers’ SACCO, BrightLife and UltraTec will develop a solar-powered hatchery and individual solar home systems for small-scale poultry farming in Kiryandongo, Uganda; and
  • Solar E-Cycles, Strathmore University and OFGEN will launch an e-mobility solution in the Kakuma-Kalobeyei area in Kenya using solar-powered electric bicycles.

Implemented by EnDev with Power Africa support, SCCIF is a financing mechanism of the Smart Communities Coalition, a network of more than 60 public and private sector organizations co-chaired by Mastercard and USAID that seeks to improve delivery of essential services to forcibly displaced individuals and host community members through energy, connectivity and digital tools. Worldwide, only 10 percent of households in refugee-hosting areas have access to electricity.

More houses in refugee-hosting areas are powered with renewable energy – like this one in Uganda. BrightLife

“Power Africa aligns its public and private sector resources to drive investment in some of sub-Saharan Africa’s most underserved energy markets,” said Mark Carrato, Power Africa Coordinator. “Our investment in the inaugural window of the SCC Innovation Fund captures the intent of the Power Africa partnership – together, we change lives. I congratulate each of the winners and applaud your work to bring life-changing electricity to these vulnerable communities in a commercially sustainable manner.”

“Globally, the number of displaced people continues to increase, with the majority of the world’s nearly 80 million forcibly displaced people currently hosted in low- and middle-income countries which already struggle to provide services to their populations. Private sector solutions will increasingly be necessary,” said Daniel Busche, EnDev Programme Manager. “The SCC Innovation Fund is designed to de-risk private investments in displacement settings, and for this reason, we are proud to collaborate with the Smart Communities Coalition.”

Learn more about what each of the grantees will do

EnDev is funded by:

German Cooperation logo Netherlands Enterprise Agency logo Norad logo   DEZA logo 

Implemented by:

GIZ logo Netherlands Enterprise Agency logo