Northern America

Challenge funds and matching grants


Enterprise challenge funds award grants or subsidies through a competitive process to private sector organizations that submit solutions with an explicit public purpose. Companies working within a specific sector are invited to submit project proposals for inclusive businesses that aim to solve a stated development problem and generate high pro-poor impact. Challenge funds can trigger new ideas and innovative solutions or promote the scale-up or growth of existing solutions. Proposals are assessed against transparent and pre-determined criteria.[1] Successful applicants must often match a certain percentage of the grant with own financing and/or in-kind contributions.

The number and volume of funds has grown rapidly since the 1900s. Funds ranges from approximately $1.5 million or less up to $207 million and can address a variety of issues, sectors, or countries or on just one sector or country. Companies are attracted to challenge funds due to their risk-willing capital, rather than the access to subsidies.[2]

Points to consider

  • Management requirements:  Enterprise challenge funds tend to be administratively demanding with management costs accounting for approximately 20-50 percent of total budget allocation. The delegation of fund management to an independent organization is an option.
  • Evaluation requirements:  Enterprise challenge funds lack adequate impact measurement systems. Critics point out that there are still very few evaluations of challenge funds to date. Furthermore, those evaluations seem to be focused too much on management issues and not enough on the evidence for the additionality of the funding and on the systemic pro-poor impact.[3]
Policy Instruments: Countries: Topics:

Innovar juntos - estrategia de fomento de los nuevos modelos de economía social e inclusiva a nivel internacional (Gobierno de Francia)

En los países del sur, los modos de desarrollo actuales debilitan el entorno social y ecológico. La pobreza, la exclusión, el trabajo precario, la sobreexplotación de los recursos naturales y la contaminación constituyen amenazas a la esperanza de una vida digna para cientos de millones de personas y ponen en peligro el futuro del planeta. Por ello, es urgente «actuar de otro modo».

Policy Instruments: Countries: Topics:

Innover Ensemble - Stratégie de promotion des nouveaux modelés de l’économie sociale et inclusive à l’international (Gouvernement de la France)

Dans les pays du Sud, les modes de développement actuels fragilisent l’environnement social et écologique. La pauvreté, l’exclusion, le travail précaire, la surexploitation des ressources

naturelles et la pollution sont autant de menaces qui compromettent tout espoir de vie décente pour des centaines de millions de personnes et mettent en péril l’avenir de la planète. Il est

donc urgent d’« agir autrement ». 

Policy Instruments: Countries: Topics:

Innovating Together - Promotion Strategy for New Social and Inclusive Economy Models Abroad (Government of France)


In developing countries, current development models weaken the social and ecological environment. Poverty, exclusion, insecure employment, overexploitation of natural resources and pollution are all threats that compromise any hope of a earning a reasonable standard of living for hundreds of millions of people and put the future of our planet in danger. We urgently need to “act differently”. 

Policy Instruments: Countries: Topics:

Company Survey 2016

Canada - Country Case Study on Inclusive Business

Policymakers have expressed interest in learning from peers that have already begun to support inclusive business. To support this request for knowledge-sharing, the G20 Global Platform on Inclusive Business developed a series of short pieces that examine the motivations, institutional coordination mechanisms, priorities and challenges that countries face as they support inclusive business.

Policy Instruments: Countries: Topics: