Global Humanitarian-Tech Startups Landscape 2023 || Startups and humanitarian organizations – (R)evolutionizing collaboration for sustainable aid

In today’s dynamic world, collaboration between startups and humanitarian organizations not only brings innovative solutions but also revolutionizes the way aid is organized and delivered. Groundbreaking initiatives like the Unsung Heroes Acceleration Programme serve as a perfect example of synergy between the business world and the social sector. As part of our efforts, we have developed the world’s first map of startups in the humanitarian-tech category.

Unsung Heroes Acceleration Programme – a bridge to collaboration

The Unsung Heroes Acceleration Programme (UHAP) is an initiative that opens doors to collaboration between humanitarian organizations and startups worldwide. In its first edition, 27 startups from 19 countries participated, and currently, programs in Benin and Lebanon collectively involve 30 startups. This is not only an opportunity for entrepreneurs but also for mentors from 43 nationalities who support project development. UHAP has also partnered with humanitarian organizations such as Polish Humanitarian Action, Polish Medical Mission, Humanity First Response (Bangladesh), MAP Afrique (Benin), and the Habitable Earth Kollyan Foundation.

As a result of these efforts, from the perspective of humanitarian organizations, Polish Humanitarian Action (PAH) selected two startups – Flex and Robust – with technology strengthening building structures to withstand strong earthquakes and SkyBlu – an artificial intelligence-based technology for monitoring flood threats. The initiative is necessary, as evidenced by PAH’s continued involvement in the Lebanon event (Humanitarian-Tech Incubator Lebanon) and the interest of local organizations such as The Rural Initiative and Rashet Kheir.

How does engagement in collaboration with innovations impact the efficiency of humanitarian projects and, consequently, the people living in extreme poverty?

Two aspects are worth emphasizing here. 

The introduction of innovations (from telemedicine and autonomous aerial transport to local fast and eco-friendly food production) allows for higher efficiency in actions with less use of capital or human resources. By doing so, these resources can be additionally utilized, increasing the scale of our aid and thereby achieving better performance metrics per each dollar received from donors (as a humanitarian organization, we can achieve a higher Return on Investment on social impact).

Financing humanitarian (impactful) startups

When seeking funding as a startup aiming to focus its value proposition on individuals living in extreme poverty, it’s essential to consider the available financing options.

Apart from the traditional search for funding, there are several financing possibilities:

  1. USAID Development Innovation Ventures – ranging from 250,000 up to 15,000,000 USD
  2. Global Innovation Fund
  3. Humanitarian Innovation Fund
  4. UNICEF Innovation
  5. Save The Children Global Ventures

It is crucial to emphasize that innovative projects must possess key attributes:

  • Have a credible Theory of Change,
  • Demonstrate a previously proven social impact (or seek funding precisely to prove and measure social impact),
  • Be easily scalable projects.

Humanitarian Tech Landscape 2023

In our Global Humanitarian-Tech Startups Landscape 2023, we have identified more than 100 startups that we feature on our list.

Humanitarian-Tech Landscape 2023 powered by Unsung Heroes

We are also pleased to present several solutions that, in our opinion, are exceptional.


S4S Technologies – revolutionizing the food chain

S4S Technologies, supported by the Global Innovation Fund, serves as an example of how technology can enhance the efficiency of humanitarian projects. The creators of S4S aim to address challenges in the food and agriculture industry. By applying an innovative technological approach and business model, S4S builds a sustainable and fair value chain in agriculture, contributing to the fight against extreme poverty. They convert farm losses to food ingredients through farm-gate sourcing and processing – all done by our women entrepreneurs.

Baobab+ – access to energy for all

Baobab+, invested in by USAID DIV, focuses on addressing the lack of access to electrical energy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Through solar systems in a pay-as-you-go model, Baobab+ not only provides electricity but also reduces dependence on harmful energy sources, thereby contributing to environmental conservation.

Project Baala – Revolutionizing menstrual hygiene

Project Baala is an innovative provider of menstrual health solutions, focusing on ending menstrual poverty and illiteracy in this area. By delivering reusable sanitary pads, the project not only reduces environmental impact but also contributes to the transformation of the health and lives of girls and women in India.

Flex and Robust – Innovative building structure reinforcement

Flex and Robust, a startup from Poland, has developed technology to reinforce building structures, preventing their destruction during earthquakes. Thanks to this innovation, real cost savings can be achieved, potentially saving millions of lives.

SkyBlu – Artificial intelligence in flood monitoring

SkyBlu utilizes artificial intelligence to monitor flood threats in third-world countries. This technology enables local communities to react quickly to crisis situations, even in areas where external assistance is limited.

Collaboration between startups and humanitarian organizations brings tangible benefits to the global society. Innovative solutions not only improve the efficiency of humanitarian projects but also lower costs while maintaining high standards of assistance.

How to initiate and sustain collaboration

1. Challenge Identification
Begin by identifying key challenges that can be addressed through startup technology.

2. Shared Vision and Goals
Establishing a shared vision and goals is crucial to building a lasting partnership.

3. Financial Support and Mentoring
Humanitarian organizations should provide financial support and mentoring to startups to facilitate their development.

4. Integrated Pilot Projects
Start collaboration with small pilot projects to assess the effectiveness of solutions.

5. Monitoring and Adjusting
Regularly monitor progress and adjust strategies based on results to achieve the best outcomes.

Collaboration between startups and humanitarian organizations is key to addressing global social issues. When innovation aligns with a social mission, solutions emerge with the potential to change the world.

If you are a humanitarian organization looking to collaborate with startups, visit:

If you are a startup seeking to collaborate with humanitarian organizations or looking for funding, reach out to us at: