The Agency Fund launches Livelihood Exploration Program


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Deadline: 14-Feb-22

The Agency Fund is pleased to launch the Livelihood Exploration Program to support research and innovation projects:

  • A Pilot round is suitable for untested ideas. The expected output is a proof-of-concept.
  • Advanced funding rounds are suitable for ideas with a degree of existing evidence or scale. The expected outcomes are greater evidence and greater scale. There are no defined contribution limits.

Many young people in low- and medium-income countries are entering the labor market with few prospects of stable employment and are forced to patch together a living by combining unstable gig work with some form of informal microenterprise. Confronted with this difficult reality, how might you go about figuring out what to do? For example, where might you go to seek opportunity? What might you sell, and where would you source it? Even in settings where options are very limited, guidance can be valuable. People who are deprived of many opportunities are often also deprived of networks and structures that others can rely on for information, inspiration, and support. Several pioneering organizations have explored ways of empowering people in the navigation of livelihood choices. For example:

  • Shujaaz develops digital tools that allow Kenyan youth to share and seek advice on informal hustles.
  • Harambee is developing a pathway management platform that accompanies South African youth across learning and earning opportunities.
  • J-PAL and Evidence Action have tested ways of enabling and encouraging Bangladeshis from rural areas to seek work in the city during lean season, and to build useful networks and experiences in the process.

They are interested in these and similar ideas that give people access to localized, actionable insights that may prove useful to them in the navigation of their difficult economic prospects.

Funding Information

The maximum contribution is $180k.

What and How They Fund

The strongest applications will demonstrate:

  • Direct relevance to the planning and decision challenges of youth who enter adverse labor market conditions, and a compelling hypothesis about specific informational or psychosocial barriers that can keep them from realizing their full potential.
  • A team that works at the cutting edge of social or technological innovation, follows an evidence based approach, and has a deep understanding of the context it operates in.
  • A path to scale, a framework for measuring cost and benefits at scale, and ambitious timelines.
Eligibility Criteria
  • Fellowships are available to individuals with or without an institutional affiliation.
  • Project funding is available only to institutions.
  • A wide range of institutions is eligible, in principle.
  • When they are an option, U.S. 501(c)(3) public charities offer the lowest administrative cost and quickest turn-arounds. That said, applications from institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and South & Southeast Asia are highly valued and encouraged, and they work actively to promote them.
  • For-profits such as social ventures may be eligible for project funding so long as all outputs of the work are made public. They are ineligible for unrestricted organizational support, but may be eligible for seed equity on an invitation-only basis.

For more information, visit