WFP’s SDGx Acceleration: harnessing collaboration and innovation to achieve SDGs
Read inspiring stories of two innovative ventures who expanded their reach and social impact through an acceleration programme with WFP’s SDGx Acceleration unit
By Bethany Plant
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Innovation Accelerator established its SDGx Acceleration unit in 2019 to foster global partnerships and holistic solutions that help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The team works in collaboration with a broad range of partners and United Nations agencies to identify high-impact innovators addressing global challenges and connect them to the funding, knowledge, and networks they need to expand their impact. Through such partnerships, we have supported more than 250 ventures to implement innovation projects in 58 countries and drive impact across 11 different SDGs.
“It is great to see the results that ventures achieve after going through the acceleration programmes that we design and deliver in co-creation with our partners. We can learn a lot from the journeys of the Reveal Platform and Predictive Analytics for Health Campaign Planning as they strive to advance on their path to scale in a sustainable way.”
— Jose Alcocer, Head of SDGx Acceleration, WFP Innovation Accelerator
How exactly do these numbers translate into a real-world impact? In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the experiences of two innovation teams that have achieved impact at scale after participating in acceleration programmes co-created by WFP’s SDGx Acceleration unit and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). Read on to learn how the programme enabled the innovation teams to expand their reach and impact, accelerating the achievement of SDG3: Good Health and Well-being.
The Reveal Platform — using spatial intelligence to drive the delivery of health campaigns
The Reveal Platform by Akros is a Digital Global Public Good that uses smart maps to plan and monitor the coverage of health interventions. Mass health campaigns often lack key information on their target groups that may result in the misallocation of resources, missed populations, and expensive follow-up campaigns to meet needs unmet by initial interventions. The Reveal Platform tackles these problems by providing real-time population data and creating detailed maps that guide and track the delivery of in-field activities in real time.
The team participated in an acceleration programme in 2021 to support their pilot project in Zambia. They received funding from the BMGF, as well as one-on-one coaching, connection to networks, and mentoring on user-centric approaches to launching and testing innovations from the WFP’s SDGx Acceleration team.
“One of our most important takeaways was the comprehensive vetting of our innovation at the design stage. We often think about our users’ pain points and attempt to design a solution with this in mind. The acceleration programme helped us to formalize this process into interviews with our users; we received much more specific and detailed feedback that allowed us to more precisely design an effective solution, think through in-field challenges to our solution, and create a plan to measure the impact of our solution.”
— Anna Winters PhD, CEO Akros
After the programme, the team iterated their solution based on their pilot and user-testing results. They have since scaled the platform to 10 countries and improved access to life-saving health interventions for over 3.6 million people in lower-middle-income countries. The platform has also been adapted to support integrated health campaigns across multiple use cases with consistent impact, including vaccination, malaria spraying, and neglected tropical diseases.
The way forward
The team aims to continue its expansion and collaborate with existing and new implementing partners. They are actively looking for additional ministries of health, implementing partners, and local developers interested in using geospatial approaches to reach last-mile populations. If you are interested in working with the team or want to learn more, visit their website: https://revealprecision.com.
Predictive Analytics for Health Campaign Planning — digitizing and optimizing health campaigns
The Predictive Analytics for Health Campaign Planning tool is a cloud-based system designed by Connecti3 and its partners, the University of Rwanda and Orbital. The tool automates paper-based planning systems into electronic formats and uses predictive analytics to identify population needs and potential operational efficiency gains. The solution reduces the clerical burden of health interventions, improves access to data and projections and makes campaigns more efficient and effective.
During their acceleration programme in 2020, the team worked on iterating and evaluating their proof-of-concept solution. They received funding from BMGF and Microsoft AI and one-on-one coaching, connection to networks, and mentorship on the human-centred design methodology from WFP’s SDGx Acceleration unit. This enabled the team to accelerate the design process and enhance the tool for client needs.
“The WFP bootcamp really helped modulate the design concept, and by helping us focus on our goals and outputs, it enhanced and shortened the design process.”
— Sangeeta Raja, Senior Advisor and founder of health advisory company Connecti3 LLC
The tool has since been tested on three integrated health campaigns, which reached an estimated 6.5 million to 9.0 million people in Rwanda. The campaigns focused on various health interventions, including intestinal deworming, Vitamin A supplementation, malnutrition screening and treatment, vaccination catch-up services, and family planning. Predictive analytics provided valuable insights throughout the planning by highlighting inequities in current budget allocations and identifying potential efficiency gains in health staff deployment. For example, the analysis showed that by adding only 180 mobile sites in specific locations with high demand, the Ministry of Health could reach an additional 2.0 million people. An evaluation of the tool supported by the Health Campaign Effectiveness Coalition was conducted in 2023; see the results here.
The way forward
Currently, the team is working with a private philanthropist who is providing funding and technical assistance to expand the use of the tool into additional countries and enhance the supply chain software module. If you are interested in learning more about Predictive Analytics for Health Campaign Planning or would like to be involved in their work, contact Sangeeta Raja at email@example.com or Stany Banzimana at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Co-creating a sustainable future for all
The Reveal Platform by Akros and The Predictive Analytics for Health Campaign Planning tool are only a couple of examples of impactful innovations supported by WFP’s SDGx Acceleration unit and its partners since 2019. Our custom acceleration programmes identify high-potential teams and support them to ideate, test, iterate and launch ground-breaking solutions in a way that is sustainable and grounded in sector experience. The success of our alumni portfolio demonstrates the value of this support. It shows that by creating partnerships and investing in innovation, we can make a tangible impact that brings the world closer to achieving the SDGs.
Find out more about WFP’s SDGx Acceleration.
The WFP Innovation Accelerator sources, supports and scales high-potential solutions to end hunger worldwide. We provide WFP staff, entrepreneurs, start-ups, companies and non-governmental organizations with access to funding, mentorship, hands-on support and WFP operations.