Sourcing high-potential solutions for a world without hunger

© WFP/Joerg Koch

Whether it is a WFP staff member with a promising idea or a social entrepreneur who strives to contribute to a better world, WFP actively seeks impactful solutions to end hunger and enhance humanitarian work.

Innovations can come from anywhere

WFP staff, start-ups, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and government agencies can submit their proposals through our rolling call for applications.

On top of that, we run a number of Innovation Challenges each year, which invite proposals on specific innovation priorities, such as Food Systems or the COVID-19 response that can lead the way to the Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger.

In 2021, we challenged innovators to submit game-changing ideas to make food systems more resilient, safe and nutritious, and inclusive.


for applications




of applicants


proceeded to WFP Innovation Bootcamps


received funding to pilot-test their projects under WFP’s Sprint Programme

Bridging the worlds of startups and humanitarian operations

Essentially, sourcing is not about discovering great ideas; the key is to identify viable solutions that meet WFP’s present needs in specific country contexts. Each submitted project proposal undergoes a detailed assessment to ensure that it addresses an existing food security need in at least one of WFP’s operations across 117 countries and territories. One of our innovation challenges in 2021 called for proposals specifically from the Latin America and Caribbean region based on the understanding that the people who are most affected by crises are best situated to inform the solutions.

Besides their level of innovativeness, applications are evaluated for team strength, business model, current traction, and the potential to scale — to truly create value for the people we serve.

The 2021 WFP Innovation Challenge announced in May, called for innovators to rethink the global food system in preparation for the UN Food Systems Summit.

A key message emerging from the food systems challenge is that there is enough knowledge and expertise regionally and globally to enact changes in food systems. Submissions came from all regions of the world; and more than half of all applications came from Sub-Saharan Africa (59.8 percent), followed by South Asia (11 percent), and Europe and Central Asia (9.2 percent).

Food systems connect everyone. Illustration by Sanjna Sudan

Innovation bootcamps

Having a good project proposal is only one side of the equation — knowing the right problem to solve is the other. For their work to be relevant, innovators need to understand their users’ needs and circumstances; they must be aware of the context in which they operate because of the high level of uncertainty and complexity inherent in humanitarian operations.

This is why most successful proposals from innovation challenges start at WFP’s Innovation Bootcamps, a week-long intensive programme where innovation teams receive guidance, mentorship and pitch training to refine their project plans.

Nigeria Zero Hunger Sprint

In addition to our regular innovation challenges, we supported the Nigeria Zero Hunger Roundtable in 2021, a platform attracting private sector funding facilitated by the WFP Nigeria Country Office and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs in Nigeria. We reviewed project proposals to make sure they were all offering a solution to a clear need. As a result, six Nigerian start-ups disrupting food systems received seed funding and mentorship from leading organizations.

Zero Hunger Sprint Bootcamp in Nigeria
“Having Bootcamp mentors, people who have already run and scaled-up businesses in Nigeria was really essential. They were the living embodiment of a practical guide. The feedback we’ve received is that this approach was really helpful. That’s because personal experiences are always the most powerful ones to learn from.”
Andrea Kobor, WFP Innovation Accelerator.

Since launching in 2015, the WFP Innovation Accelerator has supported more than 100 solutions to disrupt hunger, 16 of which are now scaling up in multiple countries around the globe.

Learn how we help innovators go from idea to implementation in humanitarian operations.