If you were awarded $20,000, how would you fight poverty?

The world theoretically ended poverty decades ago. Advances in health, financial services, and technology have illuminated a clear path. Unfortunately, development theory alone never fed a child. The great need now is to distribute these interventions to actual people.

Many solutions already exist. For example, a one hour long “sugar daddy awareness” class reduces unwanted teen pregnancy by 28 percent, but is rarely taught. Solar lamps increase study hours and income potential, but have a market penetration of only 1 percent. Praziquantel is a 10 cent drug that treats a common parasitic disease, yet 220 million people still need treatment.

D-Prize is a call to the world’s boldest social entrepreneurs. Submit your idea to launch a new venture that solves one of our distribution challenges below. If selected, we will award you $10,000-$20,000 and mentorship to pilot your idea in Africa, India, or another other developing region. D-Prize will fund a total of 5-15 social entrepreneurs. If your pilot is successful, we will help you find future funding and grow to impact enormous numbers of people.



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Girl’s Education Challenges

D-Prize proposes two proven solutions to help enormous numbers of girls:

  1. Older men often prey on young girls, and contribute to 14 million unintended pregnancies annually in sub-Saharan Africa. Girls are also three times more likely to be infected with HIV than male classmates. A 1 hour “sugar daddy awareness” class significantly reduces these risks. We will award seed capital to an entrepreneur who can launch a new organization to teach “sugar daddy awareness” classes.
  2. Fewer than 50 percent of girls in developing countries will graduate from high school because they cannot afford fees, yet it only costs $250 to send a girl to school for a year. We will award seed capital to a social entrepreneur who creates a fundraising website with profiles of the smartest yet poorest girls entering high school and raises money from developed-world donors.


Energy Challenges

D-Prize proposes two proven energy solutions in need of greater distribution:

  1. 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa use kerosene lanterns to light their homes. Yet solar lamps are cheap, clean, create cost savings, and can increase household incomes by 30 percent and nearly double study hours for children. We will award seed capital to a social entrepreneur who can sell solar lights to rural or slum-dwelling households.
  2. Traditional cook stoves are ineffective, cause chronic exposure to smoke, and are estimated to be the cause of 4 percent of the global disease burden. Modern cook stoves cost as little as $13, and provide cost savings and health benefits. We will award seed capital to a social entrepreneur who can sell cook stoves and maintain long-term adoption rates.


Education Challenges

D-Prize proposes two proven education solutions in need of greater distribution:

  1. Developing countries cannot fill thousands of teaching jobs, and teacher absenteeism is highly prevalent. “Flipped classrooms” and deskilled curriculums can be run by a facilitator, and reduce the need for expert teachers. We will award seed capital to an entrepreneur who can launch an organization to implement an effective curriculum for a resource-limited classroom.
  2. In sub-Saharan Africa, 40 percent of children remain illiterate even after five years of school. Weak accountability is the root, and a proven solution is to report on school performance. We will award seed capital to an entrepreneur to launch an organization that tests student and school performance, and makes the information publicly available to local communities.


Governance and Infrastructure Challenges

D-Prize proposes two challenges to expand accountable governance and infrastructure:

  1. The provision of public services in less-developed countries is rife with corruption. Yet many countries have recently used new data-collection technologies to report on corrupt local officials and expand transparency. We will award seed capital to a social entrepreneur who can improve transparency in public services, and report data on the performance of public officials.
  2. World Bank infrastructure projects have generated a higher social rate of return in transport than in any other sector, yet only 19 percent of roads in sub-Saharan Africa are paved. New road projects often cuts corners and may not even be finished. We will award seed capital to a social entrepreneur who can create a simple road-construction mapping and monitoring system.


Global Health Challenges

D-Prize proposes four global health interventions in need of greater distribution:

  1. Schistosomiasis, an intestinal worm, affects 220 million people, and causes serious health problems in 40 million. Praziquantel, a drug that costs only 8 cents per pill and has no side effects, is an effective treatment. We will award seed capital to a social entrepreneur who proposes a pilot campaign that distributes praziquantel.
  2. For $20, a child can be vaccinated against a range of infectious disease for life, yet millions of children remain unvaccinated. A primary problem is poor cold chain and inventory management, as up to 50 percent of vaccines are wasted. We will award seed capital to a social entrepreneur who can create a simple management system that tracks vaccine supplies.
  3. Misoprostol is a drug that costs $3 and prevents maternal death from postpartum hemorrhaging. Yet PPH is responsible for over 100,000 deaths annually. We will award seed capital to a social entrepreneur who can develop an organization that trains traditional birth attendants to administer misoprostol and prevent PPH.
  4. Many health conditions are easily correctible with early intervention or surgery, yet identifying at-risk patients among large populations is difficult. Examples include obstetric fistula, cervical cancer, club foot, and cataracts. We will award seed capital to a social entrepreneur who can create a model to identify patients for early treatment or surgically-correctable treatment of these conditions.


Custom Challenge

Propose your own challenge! If you know of another proven intervention in need of greater distribution, we would like to hear it. The only requirements are to choose an already proven poverty solution that is in need of distribution to more people in the developing world.


Competition Details

Our next global competition will take place later this year, and all aspiring entrepreneurs around the globe are encouraged to apply. To receive an alert when we launch, please sign up on the mailing list below.

First Round Second Round Final Round
Submission Deadline Rolling deadline announced this spring. Early applications are more likely to move to the final round. By invitation this spring. Early applications will receive faster decisions. Announced this spring.
What to Submit First Round Applications include:

- Concept note of your social venture two pages in length

- Resume or CV of core team
Second Round Application Packet includes:

- Full social venture plan of roughly 10 pages, plus any desired appendices

- Budget for 3 month pilot program
Judges may ask for more information on the venture, letters of recommendation, or other data.
Judging Criteria (1) Potential for impact and scalability of the venture,

(2) Passion and potential for candidate's success

(1) Projected impact of the venture on the developing world,

(2) Feasibility of post-competition success

(1) Projected impact of the venture on the developing world,

(2) Feasibility of post-competition success

How to Submit Download the First Round Application Packet below. Selected contestants will receive a Final Round Application Packet via email. Conversations will take place over email, phone, or Skype.
Next Steps Contestants selected to move to the Second Round will be notified within three weeks of their submission. The most promising contestants will speak with judges, refine their ideas, and answer questions. 5 to 15 of the most promising finalists will be awarded $10,000 to $20,000 and begin pilots of their venture.

Past Winners

Katie Wood

Katie will launch Watch Me Go, a crowd-sourced funding platform to provide education scholarships for girls in Kenya. Watch Me Go will allow donors to build a virtual classroom of smart girls in need of secondary school scholarships, track progress online and send more girls to school. Within three months Katie will raise funds for 100 girls to attend school. Premal Shah, president of Kiva, is serving as a mentor.

    Arvind Nagarajan

    Arvind will launch a new approach for improving education in resource-limited settings. He will rely on digital student assessments to increase transparency of education quality and drive improvements in school systems. He will pilot a tablet-based assessment in a low-cost center in Mumbai, and hopes to launch full time in 2014. Eric Pohlman, co-founder of One Acre Fund, is serving as a mentor.

      Olivia Nava

      Olivia launched Juabar in Tanzania. Juabar kiosks use solar power to charge mobile phones and are also a point-of-sale for household solar lamps. Kiosks are run by local “jua-preneurs”. With support from D-Prize, Olivia will support 15 local jua-preneurs, and sell 400 solar lamps in three months; and scale to 32,000 products and 150 Juabar kiosks in two years. Ani Vallabhaneni, co-founder of Sanergy, is serving as a mentor.

        Jackie Stenson & Diana Jue

        Jackie and Diana launched Essmart to connect local India retailers with manufacturers of solar lamps, home lighting systems, water filters and other essential products. They plan to support 5,000 local entrepreneurs and supply 500,000 households with development solutions within two years. Matt Flannery, co-founder and CEO of Kiva, is serving as a mentor.

          Maria Springer

          Maria Springer will launch SmartSana to distribute clean-burning cook stoves as replacements for dangerous and environmentally- damaging alternatives. She will also provide economic opportunities for local salesmen. By 2015, she hopes to reach 4 million residents in Nairobi slums who currently burn firewood, waste and charcoal for cooking.



            D-Prize is dedicated toward expanding access to poverty-alleviation solutions in the developing world. Many solutions to poverty already exist; the challenge is distributing these solutions to the people who need it most. We tackle this by challenging social entrepreneurs to develop better ways to distribute proven life-enhancing technologies, and funding early-stage startups that deliver the best results.


            1. Significantly increase access to life-enhancing technologies in the developing world – and prove an impact in a measurable way.
            2. Encourage young entrepreneurs to focus their talent on the developing world, pilot new solutions to distribution problems, and launch new social ventures.
            3. Encourage a global dialogue on the importance of leveraging distribution solutions for development. We believe the path to development is through solving distribution.

            Leadership Team

            Nicholas Fusso
            Nicholas directs D-Prize in San Francisco. He attended the University of Washington, and earned an MBA from Claremont. His background is in strategy and systems thinking, and he has been involved in several startups.

            Nicholas sees entrepreneurship as the surest path to sustainable development.

            Andrew Youn
            BOARD MEMBER
            Andrew started One Acre Fund, a social enterprise that distributes farm inputs and training to smallholder farmers, enabling them to double their income per acre. One Acre Fund has over 1,000 full-time staff and serves 130,000 families.

            Andrew lives in rural Kenya and has personally seen the power of technology distribution to transform the lives of hard-working families.

            Paul Youn
            BOARD MEMBER
            Paul lives in San Francisco, where he is a manager at a technology firm. Paul has been involved in early-stage talent screening at One Acre Fund since its inception.

            Paul is passionate about empowering the world’s poor to reach their full human potential.

            May Lim
            BOARD MEMBER
            May lives in San Francisco, where she is raising her daughter. She has worked in cancer research and as an electrical engineer, and graduated from MIT.

            She is passionate about giving others the opportunity to thrive.

            Cliff Frey
            BOARD MEMBER
            Cliff is a software architect working in San Francisco. He helped grow Meraki, Inc from 5 employees to over 300.

            Cliff is excited about helping technology to reach the places where it can have the greatest benefit.

            David Auerbach
            David is a co-founder of Sanergy, a social enterprise which makes hygienic sanitation sustainable in urban slums. David previously worked at Endeavor, a non-profit which helps for-profit entrepreneurs in the developing world scale, and at the Clinton Foundation.

            David holds an MBA from MIT and BA from Yale University. He lives the social enterprise dream in Nairobi.

            Eric Pohlman
            Eric co-founded One Acre Fund in Rwanda in 2007, which is doubling profitability for 130,000 East African farms. He has served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tourou, Cameroon, and has founded an NGO that improves water availability and quality.

            Eric's social enterprise passion developed while at Georgetown University, studying abroad in Dakar, Senegal, and working in Mbale, Uganda. Eric is greatly indebted to his colleagues and professors in supporting all his endeavors.

            Barrett Prinz
            Barrett Prinz is One Acre Fund’s Chief People Officer. One Acre Fund currently serves 130,000 families in Africa by helping them double farm income per acre. Prior to joining One Acre Fund, Barrett was an attorney at Manhattan and Boston firms specializing in corporate, white collar defense and employment litigation matters.

            Barrett graduated from the University of Vermont and received his law degree from Tulane Law School.

            Nat Robinson
            Nat is the CEO of Juhudi Kilimo Company Limited, which provides micro-asset financing to thousands of rural Kenyan smallholder farmers. He led the transformation from a non-profit pilot program within KDA to a fully operational enterprise.

            Nat is originally from the U.S. but has worked and traveled in over 40 countries. He is a Rainer Arnhold Fellow with the Mulago Foundation and has an MBA from Vanderbilt.


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            NICHOLAS FUSSO, Program Director
            Email: [email protected]

            28 Second Street, Third Floor
            San Francisco, CA 94103
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