Construction Ideas Fund

The Construction Ideas Fund closed in December 2013, the information below is for reference only.

This guidance was withdrawn on

Fund is now closed


It is a funding mechanism that shares the financial risk of innovative projects within the construction and real estate sector in Nigeria.

If your company has an idea that not only improves your business, but can also be shown to have a lasting positive impact on the sector – particularly in terms of increased income and employment opportunities for low-income groups – we want to hear from you.

Application to the fund can be made through its 5 funding windows which focus on:

Grant amounts available range from £25,000 to £250,000

Eligibility criteria

Your company must be a for-profit organisation and have operations in either the FCT, Lagos, Kaduna or Kano State to be eligible to apply. Other types of organisations, partnering with a for-profit company as lead, can also apply.

Although the fund is focused on innovation and helping you realise your ideas to solve real business issues, we have specific criteria for who and what the fund can fund. Applicants are expected to contribute their own resources to the project, bearing at least 25% of the project cost for Windows 1 and 4, and 50% of the total project cost for Windows 2, 3 and 5. The grant awarding panel will take into consideration the contributions of each applicant when deciding between applications.


To be eligible to apply for funding, the organisation (the lead applicant in the case of a consortium or partnership), must:

  • be registered and operating in Nigeria (whether domestic or foreign owned or a joint venture) in compliance with relevant business licensing, taxation, employee and other relevant regulations in Nigeria
  • be a for-profit (intending to generate a return for shareholders/members) private sector or joint venture enterprise or state owned enterprise that operates commercially and without government subsidy; or, for Window 4 only, be a self-financed business membership organisation
  • be in satisfactory financial health (in terms of being a “going concern” as defined by the fund), and be able to show at least 2 years of unqualified audited accounts
  • have adequate internal capacity to undertake the project within the agreed timeframe

Note: business membership organisations and associations, training institutions, NGOs and civil society organisations are eligible to apply for funding through Windows 1,2,3, and 5, provided they are in a consortium/partnership led by an eligible private sector business.


To be eligible to apply for funding, a project must:

  • contribute to improved employment and income opportunities for low-income groups in the construction sector
  • involve a product, service, system or procedure that is innovative, and is unlikely to be addressed by the private sector without the support of the fund – for example because of sector inertia or perceived risk/opportunity cost
  • result in improvements in the performance of the sector
  • demonstrate a sustained impact and how results will last beyond the lifetime of the project funding
  • not be easily supported by other commercial sources of finance
  • not create unfair competition or otherwise distort markets
  • utilise the funding provided by the fund within 2 years, other than in exceptional circumstances

Application process

  • first stage: submit a concept note outlining your idea in terms of its commercial viability, innovativeness, and potential developmental impact. Concept notes are reviewed by the fund management team and only those which meet the funds eligibility criteria and objectives would be invited to develop full application proposals
  • second stage: shortlisted applicants are invited to develop full application proposals setting out a detailed business case for the proposed project. Full application proposals will be appraised by an independent assessment panel whose decision on grant award is final

Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis, with applicants’ projects assessed by an independent assessment panel. Applications will be assessed through a 2 stage application process.

Stage What applicants must do What happens next
One Submit a simple concept note that includes an outline of the project and an overview of the organisation. The concept note must demonstrate that the project and the organisation satisfy the eligibility criteria.(You can submit more than 1 concept note but you will only be allowed to submit 1 application.) The concept note will be reviewed to ascertain project and organisation eligibility. If your concept note is accepted, you will be invited to submit an application during stage 2. If your concept note is rejected, you will not move on to stage 2.
Two Submit an application. The application will include the full business case for the proposed project. The application will be reviewed by an independent assessment panel. If your application is successful, you will be granted funding for the project.

How to apply

  • review the term sheet for the related funding window; the term sheet sets out the key criteria against which grants will be awarded - it’s important to review this document before completing the concept note application form
  • download and fill in the concept note application form for related funding window
  • submit duly completed concept note applications to the or

The CIF is not currently accepting new grant applications. Please contact the fund manager for further information.

Contact the fund

The fund management team can be contacted at

About GEMS2

The Ideasfund is part of a wider development programme managed by the Growth and Employment in States project for the Construction and Real Estate sector (GEMS 2) and funded by the Department for International Development (DFID). GEMS2 uses a market based approach to facilitate improvements in the performance and inclusiveness of the construction and real estate sector; a sector that has been selected as strategically important because of its high potential to contribute to economic growth, incomes, and employment.

Funding windows

Funding is available through 4 windows of activity, detailed below. You will need to demonstrate to the fund that your idea relates to the objectives/issues of 1 of these windows to qualify. Separate concept note application forms and term sheets are available for download on this page.

Window 1: Women’s Economic Empowerment

Women are poorly represented in the sector and are often not well placed to benefit from growth and income generation opportunities. Where women are present they are often found at the low value end of the value chain in unskilled daily-waged roles. Often, employers do not recognise the benefit of providing more employment opportunities, through the removal of barriers to women’s participation.

The fund is looking for partners who will develop new ways of employing and retaining women workers, and remove obstacles to women’s participation in the sector. The aim is to explore and realise the commercial benefits of retaining women workers and supporting their progression through the value chain.

Women economic Empowerment: window 1 (MS Word Document, 90.5 KB) - Concept note application form

Window 1 - Term Sheet (PDF, 133 KB, 4 pages)

Window 2: Skills Development for Construction

Publicly funded facilities for vocational training do not produce enough graduates at the required skill levels, while the private sector remains to be convinced of the business case for entering the skills training market. Employers are cautious of investing in training for informal and temporary workers, while workers themselves do not have access to appropriately located, priced, and certified training services.

The fund is looking for partners who will lead the provision of skills training to informal workers by private sector training providers – potentially through partnerships between construction firms, existing training providers and financial institutions to develop commercially viable training services.

Skills Development for Construction: window 2 (MS Word Document, 89.5 KB) - Concept note application form

Window 2 - Term Sheet (PDF, 228 KB, 4 pages)

Window 3: Recruitment for Construction

The fund has identified significant information gaps in the market that prevent the efficient recruitment of skilled and un-skilled labour by employers. There are no effective intermediaries for matching supply with demand, and the feasibility of providing such services is unproven. The fund is looking to support innovation that addresses these recruitment issues in that benefit employer, employee and sustain any newly formed intermediary service.

Recruitment for Construction: window 3 (MS Word Document, 87 KB) - Concept note application form

Window 3 - Term Sheet (PDF, 227 KB, 4 pages)

Window 4: Membership Services

Construction sector business membership organisations often may not offer the range of services to their members, which could improve competitiveness and efficiency. Examples of services which the fund would be interested in supporting include:

  • accreditation/certification of members trade skills
  • market research and advertising/promoting their members
  • effective internal communication with members
  • advocating at local and national government level for the needs of their members

We strongly encourage business membership organisations to apply individually or in partnership with a private company.

Membership Services: window 4 (MS Word Document, 90 KB) - Concept note application form

Window 4 - Term Sheet (PDF, 226 KB, 4 pages)

Window 5: Construction Materials Supply Chain (‘Input Supplies’)

The construction materials supply chain in Nigeria is dominated by imported products. Materials produced locally are either low value added, low quality, or from capital-intensive industries which provide few direct employment opportunities. Additionally, greater use of indigenous building technology could contribute to increased development of affordable housing.

The fund is looking for partners in the construction material supply chain that will lead innovation in development of products, processes, and/or affordable building technologies that provide employment opportunities, use local raw materials and local labour as inputs, can substitute for imports, offer increased quality, are replicable, provide opportunities for recycling or reuse, and/or serve to expand the overall sector.

Window 5: Construction Materials Supply Chain ('Input Supplies') (MS Word Document, 91.5 KB) - Concept note application form

Window 5 - Term Sheet (PDF, 134 KB, 4 pages)

Success stories from other challenge funds

Major multinationals have found working with similar funding mechanisms and donors to be a genuine business opportunity – one that improves business, inspires staff, and demonstrates an innovative and competitive edge.

“In 2009 the Enterprise Challenge Fund grant allowed Future Forests to develop an efficient seedling nursery and expand timber plantations. This was the catalyst for growth and supported our company during a difficult early development stage, which was crucial to our success.” Rod Evers, Managing Director, Future Forests

“The success of M-PESA would not have been realised if it hadn’t been for the mechanisms put in place by the DFID funded Financial Deepening Challenge fund, and its focus on innovation.” Nick Hughes, Vodaphone

Updates to this page

Published 25 March 2013
Last updated 22 January 2014 + show all updates
  1. Fund closed moved to "closed funds" category

  2. changes made to text to explain that the CIF is not currently open for new applications

  3. First published.

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