HEADS UP on a Funding Opportunity: VGIF Opportunity Grants (applications due by July 26, 2019)

VGIF Grants for Small Organizations in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and India

OVERVIEW: VGIF is offering “Opportunity Grants” that may be of interest to MHM organizations based in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and India.  The grant totals $95,000 (distributed over six years), and is specifically designed to support small, community-based organizations led by women, focused on projects that improve the lives of women, girls, and/or trans individuals. Applications are due on July 26, 2019.


The VCIF Opportunity Grant program prioritizes smaller organizations that have struggled to secure regular funding but maintain strong local roots, have a potential to grow, and forward a goal of women’s empowerment in terms of their leadership structure and in terms of the work they do. 

  1. LOCATION: Located in one of their current five focus countries: Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Kenya or India.
  2. LEADERSHIP: A woman-run organization, actively aiming to solve issues in their communities. Women should fill most or all of the leadership roles.
  3. SIZE: Small, emerging organizations with minimal access to large donors. They prioritize organizations with an annual budget of less than $50,000
  4. APPROACH: Eager to learn, network, collaborate and share ideas with like-minded organizations, with the active engagement of those being served in the decision-making and programming. A commitment to measuring impact. A desire to grow organizational capacities.
  5. MISSION: A focus on improving the lives of women, girls and/or trans individuals, with a significant focus on their economic empowerment.
  6. PRIORITIES: Planning to implement, or currently implementing, a program that engages one or more of the following activities:
    • Providing Access to Resources
    • Educating & Training
    • Engaging Communities and Advocacy

For more on the above, see this page.

Note that the VGIF website says that it will not fund: political parties, government entities, election campaigns, religious institutions, individuals who are unaffiliated with a company, international organizations (even those with programs in their focus countries), or groups that deny rights of women, girls and/or trans individuals.

The VCIF Grant Model

According to the VGIF website, their grants are structured to be dispersed in three increments, which correspond to the goals of each company and how they want to grow. Upon entering each new stage for funding, VGIF and the grantee work together to benchmark milestones and recommit to or adjust company outcomes. The three stages are structured as follows

  1. STAGE 1: Opportunity—Grantee’s are given $10,000, upon approval through the application process. In this stage, organizations are expected to profess their interest in assessing their organizational capacities and invest time in meeting with VGIF representatives to adopt capacity building programs into their business model.
  2. STAGE 2: Investment—In the second, third and fourth years of the partnership, organizations are given $15,000 installments of the grant. During this phase, it is understood that the organizations are the main drivers of their own growth while VGIF is a “co-pilot”, offering networking opportunities, further training and support when necessary.
  3. STAGE 3: Leverage—Funds are distributed in two $20,000 increments in the fifth and sixth years of partnership. This final stage is meant to further stimulate stability by companies driving their own growth through decisions made with the grant money focusing on organization and their own programs.

Other Information

To apply, click here .

Applications must be submitted by July 26th, 2019.

To learn more about VGIF’s current grant projects, click here.

To read VGIF’s annual report, click here.

IMHER’s Take

VCIF funds organizations well beyond the domain of women’s health, so there will likely be diverse competition for the funds (for a list of their previous grants, see this list.) 

That said, the grant seems to be quite compatible with the focus of many MH organizations, with a focus on smaller, community-based, female-led organizations focused on furthering the economic interests and empowerment of females as both leaders and beneficiaries of the organization’s work. 

To our eye, that seems promising for organizations working on MHM in the relevant countries, the list above shows that they have funded several organizations that do MH work in the past. It seems like projects with a social enterprise component may find it to be especially easy to make the case for economic advancement; however, others may also be able to make a compelling case on that front.

We do not see any obvious “red flags” for this funding (i.e., signing over ownership shares, paying to apply, etc.)  However, as with all funding opportunities, be sure to establish your organization’s obligation in return for any support received, while doing thorough independent research on the organization, any specific grant of interest, and eligibility and application requirements before sending in an application.

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