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Our Rapid Response Funding Initiative: Progress and FAQs

1st April 2020
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Last Tuesday, we announced our Rapid Response Funding Initiative to support solutions for challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent economic slowdown. The goal of deploying the aggregate funding of INR 7.5 crores (US$1 million) is meant to fast-track innovation and address urgent needs during this dire time for India. We are seeking proposals, aimed at serving the ‘Next Half Billion’ Indians, that strengthen containment, support crisis management capabilities, and enhance resilience and recovery in the wake of Covid-19. For more details on this initiative including how to submit proposals, please read our blog

As of Wednesday, 1st April, we have received 500 proposals, from non-profit and “for-profit” organisations. We are also seeing applications from collaboratives between multiple organizations, as many as 20 in one case. We are humbled and encouraged by the response, and the energy and innovation in the proposals, with ideas ranging from community support in partnership with government to tech-enabled public information platforms, from supporting retail donors to enabling the continuity of everyday services and supply chains. We do recognise that there is a very long road ahead. We expect to make our first funding announcements in the next few days. 

We are also encouraged by the response of our partners: foundations, philanthropies, venture capital firms, consulting firms and others to offer support and find ways to collaborate. We’d love to hear from more of you.

We are also getting quite a few questions which I’ve attempted to answer below. We are a small team, and your adherence to the guidelines below will help us to serve you better. 

1. How do we apply?

For details on how to apply please see this blog. We will only consider proposals received through the email address provided in the blog. 

Even if you send your proposals to individuals you may know at Omidyar Network India, please note that we will only review those proposals that make it to the email ID in this blog with the subject line “<Name of your solution/ program/ organisation> Next Half Billion – Covid19 related proposal”.

2. Is there a format for submitting our proposal?

Yes. The format has been provided here. We will only consider proposals received in the format specified.

We ask that your proposal be limited to 2 pages, outlining the following: Context of the problem; one sentence summary as well as detailed description of your solution; Segment of the population it will serve; Potential impact (in 3 months, in 1 year); Evidence of initial traction; High level budget; If NGO/non-profit, please mention budget for last fiscal year, and if for-profit, please mention invested capital/ revenue last year/ cumulative users (any one); Website and social media handles (optional); 2-3 testimonials/references 

3. What is the size of proposals being considered? 

We will consider proposals ranging from Rs.5 lakh to Rs. 2 crore. Aggregate funding under this initiative is Rs. 7.5 crores.

4. What type of organisations are eligible to apply for funding?

We will consider applications from non-profit organisations/NGOs as well as initiatives from for-profit organisations being done on a nonprofit basis. 

5. By when can we expect a response to our proposal?

When you send a proposal, you will receive an acknowledgement. 

Please note that due to the high volume of proposals, we are only responding to the proposals that make it through our initial screening process. For such proposals, we will get in touch for further discussions. We are aiming to approve and fund proposals in ~10 days from receipt of applications. If you do not hear from us in ten days, you should assume that your proposal has not made it past the initial screening. 

Further, while we are evaluating your proposal, we may share it with some other funders and investors who have expressed interest in supporting COVID-19 related initiatives. They would get in touch with you directly if the proposal is of interest to them.

If you don’t want us to share your proposal with other funders, you can reply to our confirmation mail within 24 hours of receiving it. Otherwise, given that this is for a good cause, we will assume you have no objection.

6. Is there a deadline for applications?

There is no fixed deadline. We are accepting proposals on a rolling basis till the aggregate funding of Rs. 7.5 crore is utilised.

7. Is this initiative applicable only to Indian organisations? If so, do the Indian organisations need to have FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) clearance?

Given the rapid nature of funding, we will consider only organisations registered in India. However, FCRA clearance is not mandatory. 

8. What stage of development does the idea need to be in? 

In the current situation, time is critical and we’re looking to make an immediate impact through our funding. Hence, we’re more likely to support ideas that have seen initial traction or are ready to roll out.

9. How much experience does the entrepreneur need to have to participate in the Rapid Response Funding initiative?

Omidyar Network India believes in investing in bold entrepreneurs who help create a meaningful life for every Indian. So, we value every proposal that we receive. And we’re definitely open to partnering with first time entrepreneurs and grassroots organisations. Given the short timeframes, we’ll be able to fund proposals that have initial traction or are ready to hit the ground running, rather than those at an earlier, iterative phase of development. 

Thank you for all that you are doing. Stay safe and healthy.