Omidyar Network India debuts ‘Digital Society Challenge’

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Omidyar Network India, an investment firm focused on social impact, has announced a call for proposals for innovations to help Indians cope better with online risks.

The program will fund the most creative and scalable proposals aimed at the next half billion (NHB), i.e. the 500m low and lower-middle-income Indians coming online between 2017 and 2022.

Shilpa Kumar, Investment Partner at Omidyar Network India, said “India is digitizing rapidly, especially since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis. The internet helps us address the development needs of the country faster, better, and cheaper. To consolidate these gains, we need better privacy, protection from cybercrimes, recourse from frauds, and authentic information online. Such efforts will help build individual trust and pave the way for India’s digital deepening. This is why we are launching the Digital Society Challenge to support entrepreneurs in tackling this issue through creative and innovative ideas.”

What type of innovations will be considered?

The challenge will shortlist tech and non-tech innovations that directly impact individuals, especially, the NHB. e.g. apps or digital training programs for users and data management platforms for non-profit organizations.

The challenge is sector agnostic as long as the solution addresses one or more online risks such as privacy, cybersecurity, misinformation, or digital exclusion of vulnerable groups (e.g. elderly, disabled). The innovation can be at any stage right from being a concept to a minimum viable product or a locally-implemented solution and even scaled-up innovation.

Who can apply?

The challenge is inviting proposals from three categories of applicants. Start-ups can apply for equity investments, and non-profits can apply for grants to undertake projects or strengthen their organizations. Organizations that provide services to clients can also apply for service contracts to execute their ideas.

Selection Criteria: 

  • Reach – the solution should reach and empower a large segment of Indians, especially those in the NHB
  • Depth of Impact – the solution should have a deep impact on the lives it touches
  • Innovation – the solution should have either tech or non-tech innovation that meaningfully strengthens online safety

Application Timelines:

The call for proposals will end on 23 October 2020. The shortlisting of applicants will happen on a rolling basis, and applicants are therefore advised to apply early.

Where to Apply: 

More details and the application form can be found on www.digitalsociety-india.com

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