United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

SDG Impact Accelerator

United Nations / Multilateral body

    The SDGia created a unique enabling ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship that attracted donors and entrepreneurs offering innovative solutions to complex development challenges and initial action is designed to strengthen the resilience of refugees. Pilots selected from SDGia first Program focused on two challenge areas; access to sanitation by implementing a new non-sewage portable toilet design and digital identification ecosystems enabling displaced populations access to basic services and livelihood opportunities. Whereas the second global call under SDGia is initiated the Accelerator programs for financial inclusion in Bangladesh and digital agriculture in Uganda.


    The objective of the SDGia phase I is to test the assumptions of the feasibility study to establish SDG Impact Accelerator as a joint initiative of the Government of Turkey and UNDP. UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub and Istanbul Center for Private Sector Development initiated the feasibility and UNDP Turkey took over the first pilot implementation in Turkey. Challenges are; a) the design and implementation of new non-sewage portable toilets and sanitation systems b) the development of a digital identification system of the 1st phase were identified to enable solutions for the ecosystem in Turkey to serve internally and externally. With the know-how from 1st Phase, 2nd phase aims to replicate accelerator program for Bangladesh and Uganda in challenges respectively Financial Inclusion and Digital Agriculture with strong collaboration of Government agencies, UN & private sector partners. The project will contribute establishment of partnerships between LDCs and Turkey while supporting internal capacities in respective countries & reaching the SDG Goals

    Contribution to SDG Implementation

    SDGia Phase I focuses on two global challenges faced by refugees and is directly linked to SDG targets. In relation to sanitation; SDG6.2 and 3.3 and, in relation with Digital ID; SDG16.9 were aimed to be achieved. Phase II focuses on two challenges for the LDC populations and are directly linked to SDG targets 1,2,3,58,9,10 for financial inclusion and SDG targets 2 and 9 are aimed for digital agriculture. SDG17 “Partnership for the Goals” has been identified as a key enabler for overall initiative of SDGia

    Implementation methodologies

    A Project Board composed of the MFA as the executive of the Project, UNDP CO, SBB, IRH donors which are Eczacıbaşı Holding, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Limak Holding, World Food Programme was established. PB was responsible for the overall direction and management of the project and whereas UNDP was the Implement agency. In line with the monitoring mechanisms of UNDP, PB meetings and all reporting are conducted in regard with the project activities, budget management, implementation progress and all other advances. In order to support implementation plans, SDGia Team along with the support of 3RP portfolio, monitors the progress on daily basis and PB members are informed regularly. During the accelerator program and implementations there have been numerous coordination meetings with the founders of the program; Garv, Akyas, ChangewaterLabs, Tykn, Gravity Earth, Sertifier, Mark Labs, Zaka. In accordance with the progress of each pilot, there have been demo gatherings where the pilots are presented to all partners including local and national partners such as Turkish Red Crescent, Tübitak, Kilis Municipality, INGEV, Gaziantep Chamber of Industry. Moreover, a Communication Plan was prepared in order to disseminate actions. UNDP has mobilized a team as an in-kind contribution of more than 15 staff aside from operations support. In Phase II the PB is led by the MFA, UNDP, and UNTB for LDCs with the support of government institutions and UNDP COs in Uganda and Bangladesh. A Project Team was mobilized for the Phase II. All project activities are conducted in line with the monitoring mechanisms of UNDP, PB meetings and all reporting are conducted in regard with the project activities, budget management, implementation progress and all other advances.


    The first call attracted 150 applications from 35 countries. 8 startups have graduated from the program to implement their projects. Good practices which can be replicated from this program included:1)Ease the pressures on host countries: Digital ID solutions eases the pressures on the host country in terms of receiving and assessment of refugee applicant and their financial inclusion 2)Enhance refugee self-reliance: Digital ID solutions enhances refugee self-reliance 3)Expand access to third-country solutions: The projects of founders have also been tested somehow in other countries 4:Support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity. Second initiative encourages startups eager to be part of a global network as they work towards the implementation of the SDGs. Along with mentorships from partners, specialized experts, global investors, the teams will be able to create and scale their impact up in the world in order to not to “leave no-one behind”

    Factors and Constraints

    The SDGia has a novel approach to tackle complex and interdependent development challenges due to its multi-partnership structure and advantage of the know-how to benefit from each partner besides the experiences of UNDP particularly in SDGs and sustainable growth. The partnership model has also enabled the financing of the new innovative solutions have been found in the field of two grand challenges namely “Non-Sewage Portable Toilets” and “Digital ID solutions”. The wide network of all partners also contributed in the best design of an Accelerator Program benefitting from prominent Mentors all around the world.

    Sustainability and replicability

    As of Phase I, SDGia is aiming to support entrepreneurs who develop products on challenge areas for refugees. Through MFA, UNDP and UNTB partnership, the second programme targets LDCS. Within the scope of the identified challenges for the pilot countries, SDGia will carry out the preparations for the implementation with a systems approach. In this respect, systems mapping will be conducted with the first steps of ecosystem mapping for Uganda and Bangladesh. Subsequently, the first pillars of the Systems Lab are aimed to be established and be ready at the end of the Second Phase of SDGia for the next programs as a roadmap. The first gathering has taken place in December 2020. Followingly, support of local expertise will be explored besides the holistic approach. This infrastructure will be ready for the handover of the SDGia to enable the replication of new Accelerator Programs in the most efficient and effective way.

    COVID-19 Impact

    Due to pandemic, several implementation processes have been delayed and implementation plans are revised afterwards. Besides, Demos regarding pilots were held online. COVID-19 paved a way for high prices of organization costs. These led to lack of accurate cost assumptions of founders. Within the scope of Phase II, due to Covid-19, the project has started with delay and the whole process is planned to be conducted online shall there be no positive changes in the pandemic.

    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
    10 April 2019 (start date)
    31 December 2021 (date of completion)
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