Project overview

WFP Innovation BRIDGE is a catalytic funding facility established together with UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) providing concessional loans and guarantees to innovative impact businesses disrupting hunger.

The problem

Many innovative impact businesses active in challenging or humanitarian contexts face barriers to access suitable funding to grow their solutions and maximize their impact. Grants are often constrained in size and irregular in nature. Conventional financial instruments, like bank loans, may come with prohibitive costs of capital and unsuitable terms and conditions. Traditional funding options often do not cater to the specific needs of innovative business models and do not provide the support entrepreneurs need on their journey to scale. The lack of the suitable funding and support between the traditional funding options is often called the ‘missing middle’.

The solution

WFP Innovation BRIDGE is a new funding facility offering concessional loans and guarantees, ranging in investment size between US$250,000 to US$2,000,000, to innovative impact businesses that contribute to the Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger. Together with investment readiness and business strategy assistance, these catalytic investments will provide the necessary funding to strengthen and scale businesses' operations to achieve their impact objective, and to attract additional investment aligned with WFP Strategic Objectives.

WFP Innovation BRIDGE transforms how WFP can engage with business and funders for more sustainable food systems.

WFP Innovation BRIDGE visual explainer.


The context

In July 2022, WFP partnered with the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) to leverage each other's complementary mandates and capabilities to collaboratively design new funding mechanisms aimed at achieving Zero Hunger. The combination of WFP’s global footprint and expertise in food systems, and UNCDF’s investment instruments is a prime example of UN agencies using their comparative advantages to work towards the achievement of shared goals.

  • WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian organization saving and changing lives globally; bringing life-saving relief in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters, and the impacts of climate change.
  • UNCDF assists low-income countries in the development of their economies by supplementing existing sources of capital assistance by means of grants and loans.
Scalable architecture

WFP BRIDGE is the first initiative of the WFP-UNCDF partnership. This catalytic funding facility will use grant funding to invest in innovative impact businesses (both for- and non-profit organizations with revenue generating business models, not internal UN initiatives) contributing to the Zero Hunger agenda, via concessional loans and guarantees. Wherever possible, WFP BRIDGE will co-invest with, and de-risk private sector investors to release additional funding flows into the humanitarian and development sector.

WFP BRIDGE embodies WFP’s commitment to finding new, innovative, and diverse ways to fundraise, while forging new public and private sector partnerships for Zero Hunger and the Sustainable Development Goals, and ultimately increasing WFP’s impact per dollar. 

WFP Innovation BRIDGE is the initial funding facility under the ‘WFP BRIDGE’ initiative, launched in September 2023. WFP BRIDGE’s scalable architecture allows WFP to add further focused facilities, transforming how WFP can engage with businesses and funders for more sustainable food systems. WFP Innovation BRIDGE will play a catalytic role in attracting greater investments into the target innovative impact businesses, primarily from the past, present, and potential portfolio of the WFP Innovation Accelerator and other WFP innovation hubs and units.

WFP Rwanda BRIDGE launched in November 2023, targeting agriculture value chain businesses and focussing on youth job creation. WFP Rwanda BRIDGE aims to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and positively impact local food systems, with a focus on youth and women.

Investment readiness and business strategy assistance

Innovative impact businesses that might benefit from WFP Innovation BRIDGE will also be provided with tailored investment readiness and business strategy support from the WFP Innovation Accelerator to prepare them to best leverage the potential financing they may receive and to attract additional investments from external investor partners.

Meet the team

Jorge Fernandes
Head of Innovative Finance, Frontier Innovations and Venture Launchpad, WFP Innovation Accelerator
Radek Halamka
Innovative Finance Consultant, WFP Innovation Accelerator
Barry Panulo
Innovative Finance Consultant, WFP Innovation Accelerator
Last updated: 08/02/2024