Project Criteria

To be considered, applicants must fit the following criteria:

  • Currently we focus on ventures from the East Africa Community – primarily Kenya and Uganda, but we’re potentially also interested in Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi
  • We are looking for early-stage social ventures that are impact first
  • The Catalyst Initiative must be a significant early funder
  • Your venture has been operational for no more than two years, and has an annual operating budget of under $150,000 USD
  • Projects are beyond the idea phase, having begun a pilot or prototype.
  • The organization is dedicated to monitoring and measuring social impact. (You may not do it well yet, we can probably help you with that.)
  • You or a co-founder are prepared to work full time on your venture, with the ambition to have impact on a global scale

Our selection process:

If you’re a good candidate, you’re probably investing every minute in growing your venture. We don’t want to waste your time, and so we do our best to keep our due diligence process as simple as possible. However, we want to make sure you’re a good fit, and sometimes that takes time. We dig deeper than most funders, but we’re much more interested in speaking to you and those that know your business than having you fill out lots of forms.

Our application process generally looks like this:

1) First Round: Apply

We review every application that comes in, but can only reply to those that fit our criteria and appear promising. If we like what we see we’ll contact you for round 2.


2)  Second Round: Internal Committee

Our internal screening committee will review your application, and a representative will contact you for an initial interview. The results of this interview will be brought back to our committee, we will clarify any follow-up questions, and then decide whether to proceed with Round 3.

3) Third Round: Due Diligence

In our due diligence round, we may ask to reach out to your advisors, funders, partners, staff and even customers depending on your model. We also bring your project to trusted people within our network. We look for opportunities and challenges in the business model, potential threats in the marketplace, deep understanding of the context you are working in, and evidence of your strength as an entrepreneur. We’re not looking for hockey-stick projections and flashy business plans. We want to see that you have a realistic and nuanced grasp of what you’re up against, and that you’re ready for the challenge.

4) Final Round: The Offer

If all goes well, we will approach you with a offer of funding that may consist of grants, debt or equity depending on your goals and stage of development. We typically do not fund more than $40,000 in the first year of engagement.

If you’re ready to take your project to the next level, apply today!

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