Gates Foundation and Expo 2020 Dubai to unite for grassroot innovations

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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US-based globally renowned funding organization, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Gates) and Expo 2020 Dubai are teaming up to support grassroots innovators with the ambition and potential to improve the lives of people across a variety of complex, fragile, or marginalized humanitarian settings. 

Organizers of Expo 2020 declared the collaboration at the end of the fifth Expo 2020 International Participants Meeting (IPM).

Gates Foundation’s link up with Expo Live, Expo 2020’s global innovation and partnership program, comes at a time when the world is looking for creative solutions to support millions of people living in challenging environments.

Expo organizers and participants convened remotely at this week’s virtual IPM, which concludes today, where more information on Expo’s specialist programming was revealed, including themed weeks and international day events to highlight global issues such as climate change, health and wellness, urban and rural development and space.

Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General, Expo 2020 Dubai Bureau, said: “Working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation underscores Expo 2020’s purpose of bringing people together to explore global issues and commit to collective action against them, spurring cooperation and helping to create a better future.

“The initiative empowers grassroots social innovators with funding and guidance to improve people’s lives, their communities and the environment, yet the real impact goes even further – inspiring optimism for the future and stoking global action to help millions facing unimaginable challenges in their everyday lives.”

Joe Cerrell, Managing Director, Global Policy and Advocacy, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said: “More than ever before, the world is in need of innovative solutions to support the millions of people living through challenging environments caused by emergencies, with people displaced by war and civil unrest.”

He added: “This initiative will help fund and develop innovative solutions from across the world that have the potential to save lives during an emergency or enable affected communities to rebuild better and safer, and become more resilient over the longer-term. We look forward to working with Expo Live and social entrepreneurs globally to spotlight solutions that can deliver a positive impact within some of the world’s most challenging humanitarian settings.”

The alliance will promote innovation in global humanitarian and development response by identifying, co-funding and upscaling ambitious innovative solutions.

The Gates Foundation’s Emergency Response Programme, which helps communities build strong systems to strengthen their ability to ‘build back better’ in the wake of a crisis, will share expertise, best practices and technical assistance with a specific focus on water, sanitation, health, agriculture and financial inclusion.

Learnings from the Expo Live Global Innovators will help the Gates Foundation’s Emergency Response Programme assess how grassroots solutions can be applied elsewhere in the world, spreading optimism for the future and inspiring further action towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

Grantees identified under the initiative include;

  • PichaEats, a Malaysia-based catering and meal-box service powered by ‘Picha chefs’ – refugees who create authentic delicacies and cuisines from their homelands
  • myAgro which uses cell phone technology to enable smallholder farmers in Mali to set aside funds for the purchase of high-quality agricultural supplies and training and
  • Seenaryo, which supports life skills and academic achievement for children in refugee and local communities across Lebanon and Jordan

The first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, Expo 2020 Dubai will encourage collaboration by bringing together the brightest minds and greatest innovations from around the world.

Originally scheduled to open on October 20, 2020, and to end on April 10, 2021, the event will now run from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022.