SEEP launches Call for Proposals for Innovation Fund in Africa

Deadline: 22-Jan-21

As a part of Women Saving for Resilience (WS4R), SEEP is delighted to launch a challenge fund to support innovations in gender intentional COVID response and recovery efforts related to Savings Groups.

Women Saving for Resilience (WS4R) – a two-year program, implemented by the SEEP Network and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – aims to improve the technical, adaptive, and collaborative capacity of Savings Groups, and organizations that work with them, to respond to and recover from the gendered effects of COVID-19.

Globally, eighty percent of Savings Group members are women. In order for the COVID response and recovery efforts of Savings Groups and their partners to effectively mitigate the disproportionate and multi-dimensional effects of the pandemic on women, they must be gender intentional.

Women are disproportionately affected by disease outbreaks. COVID will be no different, with gendered primary secondary effects across multiple dimensions:

  • Health 
  • Increased infection rates and death rates as frontline health workers or primary caregivers in the family and community.
  • Reduced access to reproductive health care.
  • Increase in intimate partner violence, its severity and frequency due to confinement.
  • Increased rates of unwanted sex and pregnancies in girls due to school closures.
  • Increased anxiety and symptoms of depression.
  • Economic 
    • A disproportionate decrease in employment and income due to the types of sectors women are concentrated in (hospitality and tourism, for example), their disproportionate representation in informal jobs/sectors, and the gap in social protection provisions.
    • The increased burden for unpaid work and existing gender inequalities in time poverty as women are more likely to be primary caregivers.
  • Social 
    • The disproportionate impact of containment measures which restrict access to common areas as well as women’s mobility and opportunities for socialization.
    • Decreased social interactions.

Funding Information

  • Within the program, SEEP is delighted to launch a challenge fund to support innovations in gender intentional COVID response and recovery efforts related to Savings Groups. SEEP will award four to six 18-month grants, worth a total of $600,000.
  • Awards may range between $75,000-$150,000.


The fund will be responsive to promising innovations of diverse types and scope. This may include communications and training materials, program models, policy development, technology, new partnerships, or disruptive collaboration. Activities and interventions the fund might support include:

  • Technologies or adaptations in Savings Group methodologies that better meet the needs of women to mitigate the effects of health, economic, and social shocks;
  • Technologies or approaches that enable Savings Groups to effectively adapt to physical distancing requirements; and
  • Partnerships and disruptive collaboration between Savings Groups and market actors (government, civil society and private sector) as part of gender intentional COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.


Selection Criteria

  • Demonstrated contribution to the expanded body of knowledge, tools, or institutional capacity of sector stakeholders for gender intentional COVID response and recovery efforts related to Savings Groups in Africa.
  • Demonstrated contribution to improved capacity of Savings Groups – and COVID response and recovery efforts – to meet the needs of women in targeted populations in Africa. We particularly welcome applications for proposed innovations that address health (reduced access to reproductive health care, increase in intimate partner violence, increased anxiety and symptoms of depression); economic (disproportionate decrease in employment and income, increased burden for unpaid work); and social dimensions (disproportionate impact of containment measures, decreased social interactions) effects of the COVID pandemic on women through Savings Groups.
  • Potential for replication and scale of the proposed innovation.
  • Organizational experience in designing and implementing gender intentional or gender-transformative interventions related to economic empowerment, justice and rights – including, but not necessarily limited to, Savings Groups.
  • Gender intentional in all phases – design, implementation, and monitoring. Gender intentional programs need to meet at least three of the following criteria: 
  • Gender equality and/or women and girls’ empowerment is the main goal of the proposed project.
  • The proposed project will contribute to a reduction in gender gaps or barriers in access to resources.
  • The project will monitor the reduction in gender barriers and gaps through collection and analysis of sex-disaggregated data.
  • The project is informed by or will incorporate a gender analysis.
  • The implementation team includes someone with significant expertise in gender equality programming who is dedicated to ensuring effective gender integration.
  • The project proposes an approach for monitoring gender-related negative consequences that may arise from the innovation and appropriate mitigation strategies.
  • Organizational experience related to Savings Groups programming, monitoring and results in measurement.
  • Addresses one or more of the 25 indicators for Measuring Empowerment and Economic Outcomes of Women’s Groups as established by the Evidence Consortium on Women’s Groups.
  • Commitment to host at least one national stakeholder meeting and three local consultations with Savings Groups and community leaders, to both, inform their work and disseminate results among key stakeholders, including targeted Savings Groups and communities.


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