Highlights from the Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator

2021 was an exciting year of growth for the
Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator (DUIA).

Increased Growth, 

Deeper Impact

  • We increased the number of social entrepreneurs we fund and support across Africa
  • We refined and
    added to our robust curriculum of skill-building webinars and workshops
  • We grew and expanded our ecosystem of support to include more expert mentors, global partners, and collaborators across campus at Duke University.
  • We have also increased our performance in addressing the Sustainable Development Goals


Social enterprises selected for Cohort 2 out of 79 applicants

Mentors in our network

Social enterprises accelerated and graduated in Cohort 1

Support touchpoints with innovators

Girls, women, and children cumulatively reached by entrepreneurs

Webinars and workshops in 2021

In capacity building scale grants awarded


Gender inequality, discriminatory social norms, cultural taboos, poverty, and lack of basic services often cause girls’ and women’s menstrual health and hygiene needs to go unmet.

“At DUIA, we share UNICEF’s vision of a world where every girl can learn, play, and safeguard her own health…”

…without experiencing stress, shame, or barriers to information or supplies during menstruation, which is why the Accelerator’s first cohort of social entrepreneurs are actively counteracting these obstacles to set girls up for success across Africa. We know that investments in adolescent girls’ well-being yield triple dividends: for those girls, the women they become, and for the next generation. After nearly two years in the Accelerator program, we officially graduated our first six social innovator teams in October 2021. We look forward to continuing to engage them as alumni in our programming, events, and opportunities.

Cohort 1 Impact

Over 13k students provided with access to modern water ramps for handwashing across Burundi

Femme International brought over 16K safe and affordable menstrual hygiene products to rural women across Tanzania

Kasole Secrets, Ltd sold safe and sustainable pads across sub-Saharan Africa

Over 555k people using the Lily Health app globally for sexual and reproductive health guidance

Over 1m Tanzanians that heard Tai TZ’s health and safety PSAs on public transport

COHORT 2: Sanitation, and Hygiene

Water and sanitation are at the core of sustainable development and underpin poverty reduction, economic growth, environmental sustainability, and health. Adequate sanitation is essential to childhood survival and development, improving children’s education, increasing productivity and building resilience in the face of disease and disaster.

“Every child, no matter where they live or their circumstance, has the right to safe water and sanitation.”

Selected and on-boarded in May 2021, Cohort 2 is comprised of 7 brilliant, young social enterprise teams with the innovative solutions to build the sustainable markets for water and sanitation across Africa that we need.

Cohort 2 Impact

Over 3k toilet slabs sold to improve sanitation across Ethiopia

Over 9k children across Tanzania with improved hand hygiene thanks to TAYEP’s Maji Tap

Over 10k Smart Bags sold or distributed by Smart Girls, keeping more girls in school during their menses

Over 20k people in Kenya with safely managed sanitation due to Sanivation’s waste treatment operations

Over 175k children reached by Toiletpride with safe sanitation promotion in Nigeria

21m of bars of recycled soap sold or distributed globally by Eco-Soap Bank

Unicef Engagement
and Support

UNICEF continues to provide dedicated support to the DUIA program, bringing sanitation, hygiene and menstrual hygiene management expertise to training and coaching sessions and utilizing their vast network to support our innovators. Innovators have had on-demand access to technical WASH expertise and been supported with a variety of topics such as monitoring WASH impact and market-based sanitation. 

DUIA Engagement
Across Campus

Being housed at Duke University, DUIA has a tremendous opportunity to engage faculty and students, including highly knowledgeable graduate and professional students and fellows, in meaningful opportunities for innovation, learning, and knowledge development through the Accelerator, encouraging a new generation of leaders and scholars to engage in global efforts for social change. Forging ties with relevant schools, departments, centers, initiatives and student clubs across Duke, the Accelerator acts as a clearinghouse to promote opportunities across these communities, enriching the student experience, supporting innovations for children in partnership with our cohorts, advance a culture of academic inquiry, and inspire a commitment to change-making among a new generation of students. 

See the Full 2021Annual Report Below!