Highlights from the Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator

2022 was an exciting year of growth for the
Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator (DUIA).

Scaling Social Impact

2022 was a banner year for the Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator (DUIA). We broadened our reach to include six social enterprises in East Asia and the Pacific in our third cohort, continuing our support of social enterprise teams across Africa. Our cohorts benefited from an improved and robust curriculum helping them create attainable and sustainable plans to scale – and they have begun to scale!

Oky, the period tracking app made for girls, by girls from our first cohort, scaled beyond Kenya to Burundi and Tanzania this year through strategic partnerships with other cohort 1 social enterprises, SaCoDe and Tai TZ. Sanivation raised $3.5 million in Series A funding to scale safely managed sanitation in cities across Kenya. WowMom continues to scale throughout Nairobi, adding more baby changing stations and establishing new partnerships across the city to create safe spaces for moms and their children – since joining the Accelerator, WowMom increased their reach from 1,000 to 1,000,000m children and women.

Through mentorship, monthly coaching calls, skill building webinars, Duke student and UNICEF staff support, and unrestricted funding, DUIA has catalyzed the momentum of the enterprises we partner with to create lasting change around the world. In the coming year, we plan to continue to amplify this impact with our newly onboarded Young Changemakers cohort.


Social enterprises selected for 3rd Cohort out of 51 applicants

Mentors in our network

Social enterprises accelerated and graduated in Cohort 2

Support touchpoints with innovators

Girls, women, and children cumulatively reached by entrepreneurs

Skill webinars and workshops

In capacity building scale grants awarded

Revisit Cohort 2 – Innovators in Sanitation & Hygiene

Targeting Sustainable Development Goal 6.2, the seven social enterprises that comprise DUIA’s Sanitation & Hygiene cohort are each striving to achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and to end open defecation across Africa, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.

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

DUIA innovators are creating access to critical WASH goods and services – from inexpensive handwashing stations to locally produced soap bars to menstrual health and hygiene kits to affordable toilet sales at the last mile to safely managed sanitation at the city level.

This group of social entrepreneurs has reached nearly 7 million people in the last year with life-changing interventions. Taking a market-based approach to changing the world, DUIA entrepreneurs are building more sustainable, and accessible, ecosystems to better serve the unmet sanitation and hygiene needs of their communities. Cumulatively since joining the Accelerator, Cohort 2 has reached 12.5 million people across Africa and beyond.

Cohort 2 Impact

Kidame Mart: Impacted the live of 2 million + people with access to last mile sanitation and health across Ethiopia

WowMom: 1 million people reached across Kenya with access to baby-changing stations and WASH information


EcoSoap Bank: Sold and distributed more bars of recycled soap globally, increasing revenue by 75% over the last year

ToiletPride: More than 61,000 Nigerians reached with safe sanitation products, including toilets, and education

Sanivation provided safely managed sanitation to 41,000 people and recently raised their Series A funding goal to further scale across Africa

TAYEP: Over 15,000 children across Tanzania with improved hand hygiene thanks to TAYEP’s Maji Tap handwashing station

SmartGirls: Reached over 10,000 girls and women with menstrual health products and information, expanding from Uganda to Tanzania and South Africa

Meet Cohort 3 – DUIA’s Young Changemakers

Expanding DUIA’s reach, our third cohort, selected in August 2022, fosters innovation by and for young people to solve the most pressing problems in WASH across East Asia and the Pacific region. 

“The innovators’ solutions all aim to provide local solutions WASH with a focus on youth engagement and youth leadership.”

The innovators’ solutions—which range from clean water filtration systems, to youth-led sanitation projects, to an innovative place-based toilet—all aim to provide local solutions WASH with a focus on youth engagement and youth leadership. Each of our six social enterprise teams are working to make WASH efforts more adaptive, safe, and resilient in Kiribati, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vanuatu.

2022 Virtual Forum on Social Innovation

Each year, the DUIA host the Duke-UNICEF Virtual Forum on Social Innovation, which brings together key players in the social enterprise ecosystem – from academia, international NGOs, business – to deepen the conversation around sustainable development and social innovation.

The 2022 Forum celebrated all three DUIA cohorts, incorporating their voices across the week-long program of highly interactive sessions, webinars, and networking events, exploring how social innovation can fill the gaps in working towards equitable and safely managed sanitation, water, and health for all.

Each event harnessed lessons learned from DUIA and provided opportunities for students to engage with our social enterprises, hear and learn from UNICEF field experts, and discuss the intersection of the SDGs and innovation. The week culminated in two pitch events showcasing the work of our social enterprises to broad audiences across North America, Africa, and Asia.



Fireside chats and engaging panels with social entrepreneurs about their journeys to success:

Duke student organized panels exploring social innovation:

Flagship Pitch Events:

  • Innovation Showcase featuring social enterprise teams from all three cohorts:
    • Africa-focused enterprises
    • Asia and Pacific-focused enterprises

Unicef Engagement
and Support

UNICEF continues to provide critical support to DUIA social enterprise teams, offering WASH and market-based sanitation expertise in training and coaching sessions.

Over 30 UNICEF colleagues joined our Innovation Showcases at the 2022 Forum and several of our teams have benefited from UNICEF Country Office networks over the last year and have formed formal on-the-ground partnerships across Africa.

DUIA continued its work with the UNICEF West and Central Regional Office, providing training and support taken from the DUIA curriculum with the winners of the multi-country Sanitation Hackathon.

In the coming year, DUIA will facilitate supportive connections throughout the UNICEF ecosystem with cohort 3 leading to new and exciting partnerships.

DUIA Engagement
Across Campus

Housed at Duke University, DUIA actively engages students and faculty in our programming. From our Student Advisory Committee, a group of dedicated students who help guide DUIA’s activities, to bringing DUIA into the classroom, to our Student UNICEF Club, DUIA works to bring global social innovation and entrepreneurship to life across campus.

This year, our Student Advisory Committee and UNICEF Club engaged hundreds of students in group meetings, educational panels, and various fundraisers. In the classroom, students analyzed the Oky academic case study, which outlines the journey of the DUIA-funded period tracking app and its efforts to be both open source and financially sustainable. In courses at the Sanford School of Public Policy, the Global Health Institute, and at the undergrad level, several DUIA- centric projects emerged.

DUIA Projects in the Classroom:

  • Research and report on viable capital sources and financing structures for Sanivation in Kenya
  • Geographic scale recommendations for Smart Girls Uganda
  • Developed plan for Eco-Soap Bank to test their new product SoaPlay, in Southeast Asia
  • New marketing and communications strategy for WowMom in Kenya


See the Full 2022 Annual Report Below!