Five innovative start-ups win funding to fight poverty in Bangladesh and Uganda

July 14, 2021

Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs partners with UNDP to support “impact entrepreneurs”

Ankara, 13 July 2021 - Five winning startups will receive up to USD 100,000 each to put their cutting-edge ideas into practice in fighting rural poverty and financial exclusion in Bangladesh and Uganda as part of the Sustainable Development Goals Impact Accelerator (SDGia), that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Turkey has established in partnership with the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). The initiative is funded by the Government of Turkey.

The idea behind the SDGia is to identify digital solutions that can accelerate progress towards the SDGs for low-income groups by supporting “impact entrepreneurs” in Uganda and Bangladesh. The focus of the competition in Uganda was on digital agriculture, and in Bangladesh on financial inclusion.

Announced on 8 July 2021 in an online ceremony spanning four continents, the winners are:

For financial inclusion in Bangladesh:

Ø  Shadhin (Bangladesh), a Fintech marketplace for peer-to-peer investment funding; and

Ø  Bhalo (Bangladesh), an online marketplace offering small farmers access to high-quality inputs.

For digital agriculture in Uganda:

Ø  Flamingoo Foods (Tanzania), which uses climate technology to forecast food deficits, partnering with Nampya Farmers Market (Uganda), which connects farmers with food retailers; and

Ø  Borlaug Web Services (India/Netherlands), a blockchain platform for agricultural value chains.

The new competition generated enormous interest, with over 1,000 applications submitted from 74 countries. An expert panel narrowed the field to the 43 most promising ideas, which then benefitted from a four-week mentoring program. After pitching their ideas to the experts, the field was further narrowed to the top ten, who each received USD 15,000 and expert mentoring to refine their concepts. The five winners selected on 8 July 2021 will now receive support to implement their business plans.

“Turkey is proud to have initiated this pioneering program as a reflection of our humanitarian and enterprising foreign policy,” said Esen Altug, Director General for Multilateral Economic Affairs at the Turkish MFA. “We believe ‘impact entrepreneurs’ can drive progress here in Turkey and around the world.”

“In a world threatened by pandemic and climate change, we need to find more creative and collaborative ways to devise solutions,” said Louisa Vinton, UNDP Resident Representative in Turkey. “The SDGia helps us tap into the best ideas the world has to offer in our quest to leave no one behind.”

“Startups already play a key role in helping to realize our vision of a ‘Digital Bangladesh,’” said Zunaid Ahmed Palak, State Minister for ICT in Bangladesh. “They are creating jobs, fueling businesses and attracting foreign investment, so our continued cooperation with the SDGia is a natural partnership.”

“In focusing the creative energy of global digital entrepreneurs on development challenges like agricultural productivity, the SDGia offers an excellent means to accelerate progress towards solutions,” said Maxwell Otim Onapa of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation in Uganda.

The SDGıa was implemented with support from the UN Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries. The Technology Bank’s Managing Director, Joshua Setipa, noted that the lessons learned from the initiative will be applied in future support to digital entrepreneurship in LDCs.

The competition was the second conducted through the SDGia approach. The first aimed at finding innovative solutions to sanitation and personal identification, two of the biggest challenges facing the most vulnerable among the 3.7 million Syrian refugees that Turkey has hosted for nearly a decade.

The pitches by SDGia finalists may be found at the SDGia Youtube channel

For further information on the SDGia, visit

Media contact:

Nur Akıncı, Communications Associate for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth Portfolio, UNDP in Turkey,