GDC Innovation Challenge


At the Global Distributors Collective, we believe that:

  • You, our members, are proven innovators
  • You already have the knowledge and ideas to crack last mile distribution challenges
  • Together we can unlock mass scale and bring life-changing products to those who need them most

The GDC Innovation Challenge is a unique challenge that crowdsources innovations from members, helps pilot the best ideas, and supports other members (and the broader last mile distribution community) to replicate and learn from those innovations.

This first challenge is only open to GDC members who have a presence in Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Ethiopia, Rwanda or Tanzania, and who sell products that contribute to SDG 7 and support energy access, including off-grid lighting, energy efficient appliances, improved cookstoves and fuels. We aim to run additional innovation challenges for other regions and sectors in the future.


Photo Credit: BoP Innovation Center, sales agents using virtual reality for latrines in Kenya

What do I get if my idea is selected?

Up to four ideas will be selected from members, who will receive:

  • Up to £30,000 in funding to pilot the innovation
  • Expert technical assistance to support implementation
  • Connections to key stakeholders who could help make your idea an even bigger success
  • Profile and support to disseminate learnings and insights across the sector following implementation

How do I apply?

The application process is easy:

  • First check that you meet our eligibility criteria outlined in the application form
  • Tell us what your idea is and why you should be selected using our simple idea application form
  • Email the application form to by 22 April 2019

Download application form

How does the challenge work?

  • Your idea must be submitted by 22 April 2019 11:59pm BST (London Time).
  • All eligible ideas will be shortlisted.
  • A short anonymised version of your shortlisted idea will be shared by email with all GDC members, who will be asked to vote for their favourite idea and provide feedback to help improve the ideas.
  • Shortlisted candidates will then refine their ideas and provide more detail on how they plan to pilot the innovation. For this purpose, you will receive feedback from the GDC members and GDC innovation experts. Refined ideas must be submitted by 7 June 2019.
  • The best ideas will be chosen based on GDC member votes, as well as an assessment by the GDC Advisory Council. We hope to announce the Innovations that will be piloted by 1 July 2019.

Any questions? We hosted a Q&A webinar on the 4 April 2019. Find the presentation and questions from the webinar here.  Still have a question? Email us at

Evaluation Criteria

Make sure you have considered the following evaluation criteria when preparing your application, as this will increase the chances that your innovation is selected.

  • Innovation: Your idea is exciting because it is creative and new for the last-mile distribution sector in your region.
  • Relevance & Replicability: Your idea is useful for the broader sector and can be replicated by other GDC members. We are particularly interested in ideas that involve collaboration between last-mile distributors.
  • Impact: Your idea helps solve a pressing problem in your business, will help you reach underserved customers, and is gender inclusive.
  • Feasibility: Your idea can be realised and validated (piloted) in a 12-month period. Preferably you can refer to cases in which a similar idea has been proven elsewhere.
  • Sustainability: You have a clear vision of how GDC funds and advisory support can help you realise and validate your idea, so that you can sustain and scale it yourself upon completion of our collaboration.
  • Commitment: You have a highly committed team with the necessary expertise to realise your idea and you are willing to put some skin in the game.  

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