GreenTec Capital Africa Foundation
Grant Opportunity Research Guide
Grants and other competitive funding opportunities comprise an important part of the entrepreneurial support ecosystem. Grants are offered by a variety of entities and institutions to promote or support activities important to the individual funding agency. They are often offered by governments to stimulate activities in particular sectors as well as by corporates, private foundations, NGO’s, and other to promote activities in their areas of interest. Identifying these funding agencies and understanding their mandates, goals, and interests is important to finding and successfully winning a grant or award.
Defining your Individuality and Impact
An important first step in researching grants is to understand how your organization’s activities match to a particular funding agencies goals and targets. It will be important for you to define clearly what sector and geography your business operates within and then looking for opportunities that match. Many international funding agencies use grant funding to contribute the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The SDGs are framework that the UN and related agencies use to discuss contributions to major development goals such as elimination of hunger globally (SDG1 No Hunger). The SDG’s explain what concrete steps can work towards contributing to, measuring impact, and eventually achieving the targeted goals. Often, start-ups work may have contributions to more than one of the SDGs. It will be important to review the SDG framework to see how your company can contribute to the goals in order to apply for some funding opportunities.
On a related note, it will be equally important for anyone applying for grant funding to understand their business sector as well as their company’s Unique Selling Points (USPs) to see how your business idea or solution can fit to grant competitions. Grant awards are competitively based, and it will be important to highlight the competitiveness and uniqueness of your business or solution in preparing a successful application. Industry-based innovation grants are one example.
Where to Look for Opportunities
Firstly, we will elaborate on where to find opportunities suitable to your venture. The vast number of players and opportunities make it difficult to get a concise overview of what opportunities are out there. Opportunities will typically be announced through calls for applications with entry criteria and application instructions. Grant giving bodies will often offer thematically different grants at different times, so the availability of opportunities is always changing and some opportunities may only be offered once.
With a good overview of how your business contributes to the SDGs and the business sector you operate within; you are ready to go and look for opportunities. In our modern connected world, your best tool for grant research is a search engine such as Google. Searching by key terms for grants targeting your business sector, geography, or SDG contribution should provide some results to begin refining your searching.
- Another very useful tool for finding grant opportunities is social media. Many grant agencies will have active social media accounts and will post about upcoming opportunities and deadlines. It is good to plug into the social networks in your geography and business niche, both for better exposure and brand recognition, as well as for the opportunity to learn about grants in your sector as they are announced.
- While we cannot hope to list every possible opportunity, thankfully there are some very prominent aggregators of funding opportunities which are an excellent resource to begin with. Therefore, be sure to check the following sources regularly, and/or sign up to the newsletters listed below.
|Global Grand Challenges|
|Global Innovation Exchange|
|Opportunities for Africans|
|Opportunities for Africans Newsletter|
The subject of grants and grants research is too big a topic to be easily covered, but we hope that this overview will be useful to you in finding support opportunities for your start-up. Keep in mind that even established grant agencies will change their topics of interest, so you will have to keep a vigilant eye to keep on top of the changing landscape.