Cohort 3.0


Africa’s first Assistive Technology Accelerator, Innovate Now, is launching a call for application from innovators across the African continent to develop technologies and services designed to assist people living with disabilities around the theme of the Future of Inclusive Employment. Led by the Global Disability Innovation Hub as part of the AT2030 Programme, Innovate Now is implemented by Amref Enterprises Limited (AEL).

Innovate Now supports startups to create technologies and services enabling persons with disabilities to find quality employment and flourish in the workplace by accessing assistive technology. With ambitions to support 60 startups, the programme has already seen two successful cohorts around mobile solutions and general assistive technology.

The future of inclusive employment cohort is looking to support startups who leverage digital platforms to match people with disabilities with job opportunities, accessibility products to improve the work environment and startups who creatively finance assistive technology through employers.

Beginning in November 2020 for 12 weeks the accelerator will provide a hands on approach delivering curriculum implementation, expert mentorship and user research through a Live Labs network to accelerate scalable assistive technologies. 

Director of Innovate Now, Bernard Chiira says 

“We are delighted to launch the third Innovate Now call, as we begin cohort 3 of the accelerator with a focus on Inclusive Employment. Over the past year, we’ve seen first-hand the impact of the accelerator programme, enabling African pioneers to develop ideas and early stage products into market ready Assistive Technologies – capable of changing lives. Like the rest of the world we have adapted to COVID-19. Our third cohort will be digital, maximising accessibility and opportunity to disabled innovators across the region.”

Africa is the youngest and fastest-growing continent in the world. There is a unique opportunity to accelerate inclusive workplaces, providing wider societal benefits from  reducing poverty to improving economies. According to the International Monetary Fund, population growth on the continent means that by 2035, there will be more young people entering Africa’s workforce each year than in the rest of the globe combined. 

Innovators with passion for change and a product or idea around the future of inclusive employment are encouraged to apply and be part of this groundbreaking new approach to empower African pioneers to build an inclusive world. 

Who can Apply? Our Eligibility Criteria:

  • Duration: 3 months
  • Location: Online
  • Geography: Africa (with strong commitment to work in Kenya or other east African countries)
  • Stage: Ventures past proof-of-concept with MVP and some initial users
  • Sector: AT and employment-focused Startup ventures
  • Legal Entity: : Both for-profit and non-profit social enterprises registered in any East Africa country or with demonstrated presence in East Africa Community
  • Inclusive Participation: Persons with disabilities and women highly encouraged to apply.
  • Age: Applicants must be of legal working age in Kenya (18 years) or guaranteed by a guardian of legal working age. They must have all the legal rights to work in Kenya.

Who are we looking for?

  1. Innovation-driven startups who are improving access to employment for persons with disabilities through assistive technology access.
  2. Innovative, execution focused-agile problem solvers
  3. Authentic mission drive founder(s)
  4. Teams with a culture of empathy, continuous learning and problem solving
  5. Structured and efficient teams (defined ownership, commitment, roles and accountability) and organisation (systems, processes and resources)?

What will you get?

  • Access to Kenya-based and global mentors and subject matter experts
  • Access to our growing network of virtual Live-Labs-A unique concept that allows you to test, get feedback and validate directly with persons with disabilities across Kenya.
  • Technical Assistance: tangible, direct support relating to what’s needed for your startup to succeed: legal, marketing, fundraising, experimental design, pitching and investor readiness.
  • Access to our global inclusive innovation ecosystem and partner network across organisations of persons with disabilities, universities, funders, Assistive Technology experts, disability experts, inclusive design experts, corporates and NGOs.
  • Access to Investor readiness support and our funding ecosystem e.g. AT Impact Fund

Terms and Conditions


  1. Applicants will be subject to the Innovate Now Selection process by a panel of expert judges.
  2. By applying, participants agree to be bound by the decision and rules of the programme.
  3. All applications must be submitted through the official registration form on the Innovate Now website.
  4. All applications must be submitted  by 30th October 2020 at 12 midnight Kenyan time.
  5. Incomplete applications will not be accepted.
  6. All applications must be submitted in English.


  1. The selection process will be two-step:
    a) Stage 1: online shortlisting
    b) Stage 2: online Interview Selection
  2. A team of expert judges will evaluated and will shortlist a total of 20 applicants based on eligibility criteria and application form responses.
  3. The shortlist of 20 will proceed to stage 2: the final interview where a maximum of 12 teams will be selected to join Innovate Now Cohort 2.
  4. All teams must participate online in stages 1 and 2 selection.

Acceptance into the Programme

  • Applicants will only be accepted if they comply or consent to comply with any mandatory standards, especially AT related WHO standards.
  • Selected applicants will be notified no more than a week after the final interview.
  • Selected applicants will be issued a letter of acceptance which they will be required to sign in duplicate.
  • Accepted applicants will be issued with a welcome pack containing information about all program activities, curriculum and process.


  • Participants will not be charged any money to participate.
  • Persons with disabilities will be reimbursed for any additional costs they have to bear to participate in the programme to reduce barriers to equal participation in the programme.

Equity and IP

  • All IP related to the participant: business, product and or solution belongs to the applicant. Applicants will be encouraged and supported to safeguard their IP. Such IP shall not be copied, used or distributed without the consent of the participant.
  • All IP related to content and material provided during orientation, training, program activities and mentoring session belonging to Innovate Now will not be copied or distributed without permission from the Innovate Now project team.

Agreement and Consent

  • All applicants will sign a consent form agreeing to the terms and conditions of the programme before joining.
  • Participants consent to be recorded and photographed during the accelerator programme, where content will be used for promotional purposes (e.g. website, social media)