Vision and Objective

The Refugee Led Innovation Fund champions innovation by all people who experience forced displacement. It seeks to reshape their participation in the delivery of humanitarian work by placing them at the centre of decisions affecting their lives, and ensuring that they lead the identification of needs and the design of innovative solutions.

The Fund provides a holistic support mechanism combining financial resources, mentoring and other expertise directly to organisations led by people who experience forced displacement.  This will enable them to design new interventions which will have a lasting positive impact on their communities.

About the Fund

Organisations that are led by refugees, forcibly displaced and stateless people make remarkable contributions to their communities, but face considerable challenges that prevent them from accessing direct and flexible funding.

They are often excluded from existing networks of entrepreneurs and innovators, resulting in poor access to knowledge, information and resources that could help them to magnify their impact.

The Refugee-Led Innovation Fund proposes a fundamental shift in programme architecture. It takes a grassroot approach whereby organizations led by people who experience forced displacement are directly provided with meaningful financial resources and the support required to implement innovative approaches.

Our Approach

To achieve its objective, the Fund has adopted the following approach:

  • Support forcibly displaced people to identify challenges and opportunities, and develop solutions that can have lasting impact within their communities.
  • Provide a holistic support mechanism tailored to their requests, including financial support, mentorship and technical expertise across the innovation lifecycle.
  • Connect disjointed, localised innovation by facilitating peer support, learning and sharing
  • Build evidence that proves the power of initiatives developed by forcibly displaced people, and use this to overcome barriers that prevent them from accessing resources.

Who can apply

The Fund supports innovation by all organisations led by people who experience forced displacement, including refugees, asylum-seekers, the internally displaced, returnees and stateless people.

Applicants will be asked to apply as a team, usually as part of an existing organisation.

The Fund accepts applications from both registered or unregistered organisations.

Additional attention will be given to ensuring that LGBTIQ+ persons, women-led, disability-led and other underrepresented organisations receive the necessary support and encouragement to apply to the Fund.

What the Fund offers

Selected organisations can expect the following support:

  1. Financial support to test and grow ideas: Organisations can apply for up to USD $50,000 in funding to test and implement their ideas.
  2. Programme and project management support: Grantees will receive assistance from UNHCR country teams to troubleshoot challenges and facilitate local connections. This will further enhance the successful implementation and sustainability of projects.
  3. Technical support, expertise and coaching: Specialist advice based on needs ranging from technology to legal support and Innovation.
  4. Peer-to-Peer support: Teams will be encouraged to meet, share experiences, learn from each other and explore partnerships.
  5. Other support based on each project need: this could include organisational support, help with project sustainability and scale, training on specific topics, business model advice and media and communications support.
  6. An emphasis on learning: The Fund will help grantees measure outcomes, assess the effect of their initiatives and gather information to support growth. Applicants will be encouraged to document, share and make use of relevant learning. Discussion and reflection with communities will enable to incorporate and respond to feedback.
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How to apply

The Innovation Service is operating a two-stage selection process to screen applications. Only shortlisted teams will be invited to submit a full application.

For the first stage, organisations are invited to submit their Expression of Interest between June 17 to July 17 by providing a short overview of the challenge the team is facing and their envisioned idea or solution.

The Innovation Service will then review these applications Shortlisted teams will be notified and will have three weeks to submit a full application. They will receive support from the Innovation Service and UNHCR country offices in submitting their full applications

To submit an Expression of Interest, click the Apply now button.


Who is eligible to apply?

Only organisations that are led by people who experience forced displacement are eligible to apply. This includes refugees, asylum-seekers, the internally displaced, returnees and stateless people. We accept applications from both registered and unregistered organisations.

How will you decide which organisations are selected for funding?

After reviewing the Expressions of Interest, the Innovation Service will first shortlist organisations who showcase a clear and compelling problem or challenge that they want to solve. Applications should also illustrate a novel approach or idea to addressing this problem. Ideas don’t need to be ‘new to the world’, but should at least be novel in the organisation’s local context.

Shortlisted applications will then undergo a vetting process to confirm that they meet the eligibility criteria before being invited to submit a full proposal. Once these proposals are received, the Innovation Service, along with UNHCR country operations, will further assess the team’s challenge and novel approach. We will also select teams which showcase how they are uniquely-placed to address the challenge.

Does the Fund focus on a specific technology, theme or impact area?

No. The Fund stresses the importance of having people who experience forced displacement frame the problems themselves and lead the design of initiative.

Our organisation has a novel idea or approach that we would like to test, but we have never tried it before. Can we still apply to the Fund?

Yes, you can still apply whether you have tested your idea in the past or not.

Teams are, however, required to outline an opportunity, approach or idea that they would like to explore in their context, and which is linked to positive change that they want to contribute to. This approach allows emergent ideas to surface from ongoing dialogue with their communities.

How much funding is each organisation eligible to receive?

The maximum financial support that applicants can apply for is $50,000 per organisation.

What are the costs covered by the grant?

All costs related to the project activities can be covered by the grant including procurement of goods and services as well as personnel/staffing costs  needed to advance the aims of the project. Office costs and overhead costs , if they can clearly be linked to the project, can be covered by the grant. The Grant cannot be used for purchasing goods or services for personal use

Can individuals apply for funding?

No. Applicants can only apply as a team, usually as part of an existing grassroots, community-based organisation or refugee-led organisation.

Questions about the Fund can be directed to

For more information please open this link
Apply Here

Refugee-led Innovation Fund



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