Lemelson Foundation: Grants for Global Development

OVERVIEW: The Lemelson Foundation invests in social entrepreneurs who are addressing pressing challenges faced by vulnerable and marginalized populations around the world.

IP TAKE: This funder offers pretty significant investments to groups taking innovative and dynamic approaches to basic human needs. Competition is stiff.

PROFILE: The Lemelson Foundation was established in the early 1990s by inventor Jerome Lemelson and his family. The foundation “works to strengthen the ecosystem that cultivates inventors while helping them translate their ideas to inventions with impact.” Lemelson’s grantmaking and investments may be a bit off the beaten philanthropy path, but it giving speaks directly to the growing practice of impact investing.

In the global development landscape, Lemelson supports outfits that use innovative technologies to address basic human needs. Its giving in this space focuses on developing countries and base of the pyramid populations.

Lemelson’s Developing Countries programs invest in entrepreneurs and invention-based businesses that address challenges faced by the world’s poorest populations, such as access to water, basic human needs, food security, and poverty.

Grant and investment amounts can be rather substantial, at times over $1.5 million. Most investments, however, come in at $50,000 to $250,000. To give you an idea of the types of organizations the foundation has supported: Villgro, Sanergy, and Global Minimum are past investees. To learn more about the types of organizations supported by Lemelson, check out its Impact Spotlights page.

The Lemelson Foundation does not accept unsolicited grant applications or requests for funding. However, the foundation encourages organizations o reach out with a concept note if they believe their work aligns with the Lemelson’s strategy.

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