The Accelerator Model

A Win-Win-Win Model

The Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator, housed at Duke University, was established to help social entrepreneurs acquire the knowledge, tools, and networks necessary to improve the lives of children around the world. Our goal is to increase the effectiveness, sustainability, and scale of impact of some of the most promising solutions to critical challenges facing the world’s children. Ultimately, the Accelerator supports UNICEF’s goal to give a fair chance in life to every child, everywhere, especially the most disadvantaged.

A Pipeline of High-Potential Innovations to Better the Lives of Children

The Accelerator identifies innovative and impactful approaches, products, technologies and business models to address critical challenges facing children across Africa, East Asia, and the Pacific emphasizing issues of greatest priority to UNICEF.

Each cohort consists of up to seven social enterprises selected for their potential to address a pre-determined theme drawn from UNICEF’s development priorities. The first two cohort themes are menstrual health and hygiene and sanitation and hygiene in Africa specifically. Cohort 3 has a special focus on WASH in East Asia and the Pacific.

Collective Impact

Through a collaborative approach, we build a more supportive and inclusive innovation ecosystem that results in greater collective impact for social entrepreneurs across the Continent, UNICEF globally, and throughout the Duke University community. Synergetic partnership is at the core of our support model, bringing together world class experts, students, and mentors to catalyze our work, together, towards the Sustainable Development Goals. The Accelerator is a global partnership like no other.

Social Entrepreneur Benefits

Strengthening social entrepreneurs’ capabilities to achieve increased impact.

Social enterprises accepted into the Accelerator benefit from the following opportunities:


Social entrepreneurs will receive a variety of training, coaching, mentoring, and other services to help them implement, assess, and refine their approaches, design viable business models, leverage their ecosystems, and attract additional resources.

Peer Learning & Collaboration

Social entrepreneurs will share insights, offer feedback, and forge alliances within and among cohorts via in-person and online gatherings. Social entrepreneurs will also engage with the Accelerator to co-create and disseminate knowledge that has wide-scale benefit for social enterprises with innovations for children around the world.

Resources for Greater Impact

Each social enterprise will receive an initial grant to be used for testing or refining a program or business model, or to achieve another capacity-building objective identified in collaboration with the Accelerator team.

Success at Scale

The reach and networks of the Accelerator and its partners can help prepare the social entrepreneurs to more successfully pursue financially sustainable, ecosystem-sensitive strategies to scale their impact for children.

Stay Up to Date

Keep up with our social entrepreneurs’ progress and the impact we’re making together.