New grant: From Rockefeller to street vendor

A street vendor in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo by: A street vendor in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo by: Chris Goldber / CC BY-NC

People working in the informal sector face low pay, limited social protection and job insecurity. In its centennial year, one grant-making charity is now seeking ways to address these challenges.

The Rockefeller Foundation launched this week the Centennial Innovation Challenge, giving public or private organizations and individuals a chance to submit ideas on how to improve the livelihood of people working in the informal economy. Countries with a particularly high rate of informal employment include India, Brazil, Mexico, Vietnam, Pakistan and the Philippines, according to 2012 statistics from the International Labor Organization.

Informal employment, according to ILO, “is a job-based concept” that includes persons whose job lacks basic social or legal protections, or employment benefits. Street vendors and garbage collectors, for instance, often fall into this category.

The Rockefeller Foundation is looking for ideas that are new or applied in a new area or context. They could, for instance, help workers stay safe or financially secure, or grow their businesses.

Ten grants worth up to $100,000 each are up for grabs. Technical assistance will be provided to help winners make their idea become a reality.

Submissions are due April 1 and can be written in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish or Thai. They will be judged against four criteria, which have a corresponding number of points: catalytic (4), impact (3), context (2) and spark (1).

The challenge is open to individuals aged 18 or older and to both public and private organizations: nonprofits, government, academic institutions, associations, guilds, membership organizations or municipalities. But individuals and informal entities “must affiliate with a formal entity” prior to applying.

Interested parties can submit multiple entries.

Read our previous #innov8aid and share your own development innovation with us by emailing with the subject line #innov8aid.

About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.

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