(MENAFN - Jordan Times) The Swedish embassy in Amman has launched the Innovations Against Poverty (IAP) initiative in Jordan this week to support businesses in developing services, products and processes that will benefit people living in poor areas.
The initiative, implemented by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), first started in 2009 in seven Sub-Saharan African countries and will now be implemented in the Middle East and North Africa region.
According to Swedish Ambassador to Jordan Charlotta Sparre, the purpose of the initiative is to mobilise resources and encourage companies to develop their core activities to contribute to better conditions for marginalised people.
The programme operates a challenge fund, through which companies and market-oriented NGOs can apply for funding and advisory support, she said, adding that a company can be in any sector and serve any geographical region, as long as the objective of the business or project is to create a sustainable business operation that will benefit low-income earners by engaging them as suppliers, co-entrepreneurs, employees or consumers.
At an event to launch the IAP on Sunday, attended by Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation Secretary General Saleh Kharabsheh, officials from Sida explained the types of assistance to be offered to businesses.
In terms of financing, the IAP will provide small grants of up to 20,000 euros or 50 per cent of total project cost for the purpose of exploring an innovation or a new market.
The grant might be used for travel and pre-feasibility studies, stakeholder needs assessments, or networking with local organisations.
The IAP will also provide large grants, of up to 200,000 euros or 50 per cent of total project cost, to a company for the purpose of undertaking a research and development project aimed at an innovation against poverty - meaning a product, service, system, business model or a concept ready to be put to market testing, or an adaptation of existing products to make them affordable and accessible to the poor, according to Sida.
The IAP also offers limited advisory support to companies approaching the programme for financial and funding assistance, both during the application process and later when successful applicants have been granted financial support.
For a company to be eligible, Sida officials indicated, that the proposed project must satisfy the criteria that schemes should have a clear commercial driver and potential for commercial viability, potential to reach scale and be managed by a company or a market-oriented organisation.
Among other requirements, the project must benefit poor people and avoid negative effects such as environmental damage or market distortion.