How can I know if my/our project idea is sufficiently innovative to qualify for LIFT funding?

The scope for increasing investment and innovation in the transport and logistics industry of East Africa is huge, with the range of possible project interventions being wide. Logistics innovations are usually classified into 2 broad groups: ‘technological’ and ‘management process’. The table below summarises some of the most notable innovations in each category. Many of the suggested innovations are either absent from the East African Community (EAC), or are just being introduced. Projects which seek to introduce an innovative management process into a given country in the EAC, where it might already exist in a neighboring country will not be penalized if it can be shown that the economic and social impacts in the host country or region will be significant.

Technological Innovation

Management Process Innovation

Cargo and shipment tracking, cargo and/or driver hour monitoring; both products allowing the logistics company to achieve operational efficiencies.

Just-in-time strategy (a production strategy that strives to improve a business return on investment by reducing in-process inventory and associated carrying costs) uses smaller and more frequent deliveries.

Integrated information systems between organisations in a supply chain, to provide real-time end-to-end visibility of the supply chain; improving efficiencies in resource usage.

Value-added services such as warehousing, product processing/co-packing, labelling, mass customisation.

Merchandise tracking throughout the supply chain through Radio Frequency Identification.

Fourth Party Logistics (4PL) is the extension of the Third Party Logistics (3PL). 4PL involves outsourcing logistics services to companies that do not own the trucks, rather the ICT management systems which offer logistics services on a global scale. 4PL is also classed as a form of Green logistics as it can involve the efficient transfer of cargos from higher energy using supply chains (e.g. road) to more environmentally friendly and less energy consumptive logistics supply chains (e.g. rail).

Vehicle routing, scheduling or warehouse automation management systems.

The use of shared services such as aggregation, cold storage, warehousing, transport and distribution centres.

Digital administration systems, such as automatic check-in.

Formation of alliances of SMEs such as the pallet networks, which are groups of independent logistics providers that collaborate to distribute small consignments and provide other value-added services.

Electric vehicles to reduce CO2 emissions.

Green logistics such as better integration of forward and reverse chains to improve vehicle utilisation and reduce emissions.


Who can apply?

Yes, but only in instances where such an SOE is collaborating with an eligible institution.

If you are unsure of your eligibility to apply, please contact us, by email, phone or post, for clarification and guidance.

No. An international company can apply.

All applicants will need to demonstrate their capacity to implement their proposed project, and must also be able to contribute a minimum of 50% of project costs in cash or in kind (for private sector entities) or a minimum of 30% of project costs in cash or in kind (for NGOs and other member of civil society).

All applicants must prove their legal status, including office address, telephone number, email address, company registration number and tax code (if applicable).

All applications must be submitted by a registered entity (e.g., registered companies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), business associations, academic institutions, media organisations etc.)


If you are unsure whether your proposed project meets our eligibility criteria, please contact us, by email, or post (no telephone calls please), for written clarification and guidance.

At this stage, LIFT only wishes to consider project proposals that fit within the area set by the specific challenge.

Yes. If you believe your idea meets the Challenge set by LIFT, we would be happy to receive your proposal.

We are interested in potentially risky projects that can demonstrate the potential for being replicated and are sustainable in the long run, along with the ability to have significant impact on the poor. We are not interested in supporting a low level of business risk and therefore could easily attract more conventional financing, such as bank loans.

All projects approved should have a maximum duration of 24 months to reach completion.

We are looking for projects that:

  • Develop new, unproven models for researching and communicating the benefits of regional integration, with the potential to be sustainable and replicable;
  • Are innovative (meaning they involve new products, services, marketing approaches, business models, etc.);
  • Deliver sizeable benefits to a significant number of the poor in the EAC;
  • Have the potential for impact beyond the project, through replication or changing the way the research, advocacy and communication occurs related to regional integration; and
  • Identify how the evidence-based research transport and logistics will influence a) policy formulation, b), open the space for policy dialogue, c), build capacity of policy makers to address key issues, d) broaden public understanding of the roles of PSOs and CSOs to fully engage in debates about reform in EAC;
  • Demonstrate appropriateness and matching with expected results.


Support for funded projects

No. The payment will be on “Cost Reimbursement Method”. In other words, payments will be made according to an agreed schedule with the project’s implementer(s). These payments will be phased and released when the project meets each pre-agreed milestone. Payments will in most cases be reimbursements for funds spent by the grantees, according to the contract.

Grant recipients will be expected to comply with various reporting requirements, to be mutually agreed during contract negotiations.

The grant will be denominated in US Dollars only.

The value will typically have a maximum of US$750,000 per project. Applicants must keep in mind that at least 50% (for-profit) and 30% (for non-profit) of the project’s costs must be provided by them.

Recipients of grant funding by LIFT will be expected to comply with the following requirements:

⦁    Demonstrate verifiable achievements of agreed Milestones to trigger payments.
⦁    Quarterly progress report.
⦁    Provide audit proof-financial statement of expenditures.

No. LIFT does not provide project management interventions in projects.

LIFT will provide facilitation support to grant recipients on a case-by-case basis, but does not provide on-going technical assistance to grant recipients with the management of their projects.


Applying for a grant

Yes, applicants may submit more than one concept note if they have multiple Projects they wish to propose.

LIFT will not provide any assistance to applicants in preparing concept notes. However, those applicants that are subsequently invited to submit more detailed proposals will be provided with some guidance if requested.

You can submit Concept Notes and Proposals through email provided for in the LIFT website.

We will acknowledge the receipt of your Concept Note or Proposal by email.

LIFT will send an email to each applicant, advising them of the decision.

Yes. All applications will be treated in the strictest confidence during the application process. All the people involved in running the Fund, including the Investment Committee members, have signed a binding Code of Conduct that prohibits them from divulging details of the applications to others, and also prohibits them from using the information for personal gain.

Yes, if a project does not reach proposal stage, or is ultimately not funded, the applicant company may submit a concept note for another (or revised) project in the next round of Challenges.

The milestones set by LIFT and the grant recipients will be mutually agreed upon, and will be set out in a formal contract, before the first grant disbursement is made.

The concept note is the first part of the application process. Applicants wanting to participate in the LIFT Challenge Fund must initially complete a concept note. All concept note submissions will be reviewed, and the most promising ideas will go through to the next stage. The concept note allows applicants to briefly present how their ideas respond to the Challenge.

English language only.


LIFT provides grants for projects rather than individual companies. LIFT does not seek to obtain any financial return. The Fund is not an equity or venture capital investor, and will not buy shares in a company or a project. Nor will it wish to share in the profits of successful projects. Our goal is to create a significant impact on the markets that matter to the poor through regional integration. LIFT is not a bank, and does not provide loans or other kinds of debt financing. The funding provided is grant money, and there is no interest or other charges attached to the money provided by the Fund.

If a Project fails to meet an agreed milestone, according to the contract agreed, then any subsequent grant releases by the Fund will be halted until a mutually satisfactory solution is found. If a solution cannot be found, the Fund may regrettably have to halt its grant funding of the project at that stage.

No, you will not. But if fraudulent activities within the grantee organisation are identified as the cause of the failure, then the Fund will demand and enforce a full refund of the funds advanced.