WINNIPEG, MANITOBA: Nine organizations from across Canada are the second cohort selected to test innovative solutions that will improve the lives of women and girls in developing countries.

The successful organizations will be awarded between $150,000-$250,000 to test their ideas in nine different countries across Africa, Asia, Middle East, and Latin America.

The selected innovations address challenges related to agriculture, climate change and environment, education and livelihoods, all with a focus on gender equality. Examples include a new approach to eradicating child marriage in Sierra Leone, a women-focussed dissemination of newly developed drought-tolerant coffee in Indonesia, a project incubator for gender equality projects in Nicaragua, and the promotion and sale of reusable menstrual health products in Uganda, among others. Each idea will be tested over six to 15 months, giving organizations an opportunity to gather evidence, adapt and improve.

Within Nova Scotia, Coady International Institute’s project ‘Farmer-led Tools, Dashboard Development, and the Future of Farming’ was selected. Coady International Institute at StFX University will test tools with women farmers to identify capacity building needs, such as accessing new technologies, credit, infrastructure, markets, financial and business planning/management etc. It will also test a farmer-led indicator dashboard and explore the opportunities and impacts of big data and future of farming at the smallholder farmer level in the Nyando Valley (Kenya) and in two districts of Gujarat State in India.

“Throughout our first two intakes, we’ve seen so many great Canadian organizations working towards improving the lives of women and girls from around the world,” said Christina MacIsaac, director of innovation for FIT. “We are confident that the results of the selected innovative solutions will have lasting impacts for all involved, including here in Canada and within the testing countries.”

The funding is part of a unique national initiative, the Fund for Innovation and Transformation (FIT), that supports ideas at the testing phase. Launched in May 2019, FIT funds Canadian small and medium-sized organizations from different sectors to test new or improved practices, policies and approaches with local partners around the world. The five-year, $16.5 M program is an initiative of the Inter-Council Network of Provincial and Regional Councils, funded by Global Affairs Canada and managed by the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation.

“It has become increasingly urgent to work on and improve gender equality around the world, especially in a global pandemic,” Jennifer Sloot, executive director of the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation, the current host of the Inter-Council Network, says. “Atlantic Canadian organizations and individuals have a lot to offer to the international development community. It is encouraging to see local knowledge and expertise being highlighted and rewarded on a national platform.”

FIT has recently opened up the next intake (Intake 3) and concept notes are due October 15. Find more information on how to apply at: https://fit-fit.ca/process/.