Vodafone Americas Foundation: Grants for Global Development

OVERVIEW: Vodafone Americas Foundation supports global development organizations that apply mobile tech solutions to improve the lives of vulnerable and marginalized populations around the world.

IP TAKE: Overall, Vodafone prizes technology; in particular, mobile technology. Since mobile technology offers a plethora of innovative potential, Vodafone often take risks on creative solutions to some of the most entrenched global development problems.

PROFILE: The Vodafone Americas Foundation is the U.S.-based charitable arm of telecommunications conglomerate Vodafone. One of over 20 foundations, Vodafone Americas seeks to "connect an ecosystem of partners that use wireless technology to spark innovation, improve lives, transform the global development sector and empower women and girls."  While Vodafone Foundations may be spread out across the world, each is country-specific, and each operates under the principle that mobile communications technology can solve “some of the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges/social issues.” 

The foundation mobilizes those challenges through four programmatic areas: Improving Lives, Strengthening the Global Development Sector, Sparking Innovation, and Empowering Women and Girls.

Vodafone's Improving Lives program supports NGOs that use wireless mobile technology to increase opportunities in education and promote the health, safety, and sustainability of local communities in developing countries.

The Strengthening the Global Development Sector program seeks projects and programs that foster a collaborative environment amongst key global development players. This program's goal is to “strengthen the field of mobile and wireless technology for social benefit.” 

In contrast, the Sparking Innovation program centers on innovative wireless technologies used to improve lives. 

Vodafone's Empowering Women and Girls program intends to offer women and girls with greater economic opportunity while also helping to close the gender gap. Its grantmaking in this area largely supports projects that bridge the gap between girls and STEM through technology driven education. 

Lastly, the Wireless Innovation Project (WIP) is an open competition that awards prizes totaling $600,000 to the top three organizations with the most promising wireless technology solutions to some of the most entrenched global development problems.

Grants typically range between $10,000 to $50,000; however, WIP prizes award $300,000 to the first place winner, $200,000 to the second, and $100,000 to the third.

While the Vodafone Americas Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals, it encourages grantseekers to contact the foundation if they feel their projects are closely aligned with the foundation’s grantmaking interests.

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