Start-ups and social enterprises for global health

Reaching the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals, including health in low and middle-income countries, requires not only additional financing but also innovative and scalable low-cost solutions that are adaptable to different contexts. The initiative strives to tap the potential of start-up companies in these countries to improve health. The Swiss Impact Hubs in Geneva and Basel aim to support and connect start-ups with potential for scale with major healthcare industry and financial investors.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Employment & economic development
SME development
Basic health infrastructure
Infectious desease
01.11.2018 - 31.12.2022
CHF  1’480’700
Background The implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the achievements of its ambitious goals including health and well-being for all requires additional funding as well as innovative and scalable low-cost solutions. In order to develop and bring such solutions to scale, the private sector is key. Especially social enterprises and start-up companies are relevant players because they combine social with economic objectives to drive inclusive and sustainable growth based on viable business models and private investment. With their lean structures they are best placed to explore innovative ideas that are tailored to the local realities and seek to respond to a clearly identified need within these contexts. Yet, in order to grown and reach scale, these companies need additional skills, business partners and financial investements.
Objectives Improve health and well-being of poor and disadvantaged people in low and middle-income countries.
Target groups

Primary beneficiaries: 60 start-up companies and social entrepreneurs.

Secondary beneficiaries: local impact hubs in low and middle-income countries.

Ultimate beneficiaries: Poor and underserved people in low and middle-income countries.

Medium-term outcomes 20 out of 60 innovative projects from start-up companies and social entrepreneurs from 20 countries will be brought to scale through financial investments and other types of support.

Expected results:  

Output 1: Award winners (start-up companies and social entrepreneurs) are better skilled to build their solution/project and become a viable business with scale.

Output 2: Award winners obtain additional resources from financial investors.

Output 3: 3. Award winners build their health expertise through expert advice, knowhow and support from coaches, Swiss healthcare industry and the global health community in Switzerland.

Output 4: Local impact hubs are strengthened in their capacities to help bring start-ups to scale.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
Swiss Non-profit Organisation
  • Other Swiss Non-profit Organisation

Coordination with other projects and actors
  1. Fondation Botnar
  2. Geneva Impact Hub and local impact hubs in low- and middle-income countries
  3. International health organizations based in Geneva
    (partly already SDC partners)
  4. Healthcare industry Basel (partly already SDC partners)
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    1’480’700 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    724’000