At UNICEF Innovation we are seeking to document a set of business models for open-source startups that would provide value back to both the makers and investors, while also creating global public goods in the process. On  30 July, a roundtable took place at UNICEF HQ and was attended by representatives of KalturaKickstarterRedHat, Rochester Institute of Technology, the Tikkun Olam MakerspaceUnion Square Ventures, and USAID Global Development Lab. To read the article, click here

If you are interested in investigating these topics, apply for the consultancy below: 

Terms of Reference

Title: Business Model Consultant
Purpose: Document 5-6 cases of proven business models for open-source startups that can be applied globally and develop related recommendations for UNICEF’s engagement
Department: Innovation Unit
Location: Flexible location
Start Date: Immediate
Duration: 30 October 2015
Reporting to: UNICEF Innovation Fund Manager
Objective: To conduct market research on and document viable business models around open-source products and services to inform startups in developing economies.

Specific Tasks:

  1. Desk review of business models currently employed in open-source startups (in hardware, software, and content), especially pertaining to products that impact children.
  2. Undertake interviews and consultations with experts in the fields of open-source, business, legal, venture capital and global entrepreneurship, etc. to verify findings of desk review and identify 5-6 open-source companies with proven business models to be the subjects of the cases.
  3. Conduct research and draft case studies of  5-6 successful business models for open-source startups that can be applied in the developing world – each case study is presented in (1) 5-6 page business case report; (2) a 1-page overview and (3) two ppt slides. Business cases should be drawn from: 3 focused on open source software (one on software as a service (SAAS); one on software with custom extensions; one on aquihire); 1 focused on open source hardware; 1 on open-source content.
  4. Summary report and recommendations – putting forward conclusions regarding the conditions in which open source models succeed; motivations and incentives for entrepreneurs to adopt business models; the added-value role that UNICEF could play in supporting/encouraging open source ventures (ie type, frequency and size of investment; community-building; networks; etc).
  5. Present first drafts (of each business case) to UNICEF; compile and incorporate comments and feedback from UNICEF and/or experts and/or subjects of the business case.
  6. Conduct pilot testing of business cases with start-ups to gather key questions and feedback.
  7. Present second drafts (of each business case) to UNICEF; compile and incorporate comments and feedback from UNICEF and/or experts and/or subjects of the business case.
  8. Present final versions of the business cases.
  9. Communicate weekly with supervisor providing regular progress reports and responding to information requests.

Scope: The business cases should include the following:

  • A clear statement of the central business problem
  • Industry Overview
  • Company Overview, including information on:
      • Company history
      • Products/services
      • The Community (including investors, customers, users, developers etc) and its value
      • Goodwill
      • Network of influence
      • Distribution Channels
      • Annual revenues
      • Size of the company’s employee base
      • Key stakeholders and decision makers
      • Market share
      • Funding history
  • Identify the country in which the company is based, including:
      • The extent of the problem that the company/product is trying to solve
      • The venture environment, such as sources of investment and financing
  • Market Opportunity and Risks
    • Background on Open-Source
      • Brief explanation
      • Open-source business model
      • Motivation and disincentives as experienced by entrepreneur to adopt open source model
      • Main risks and assumptions of the model
  • The Company’s Strategy
      • Business model
      • Licenses
      • Explain how being open-source and the selected business model are aligned with the company’s strategic business and technology goals
  • Competition
      • Pricing
      • Sales
      • Differentiators
  • Strategic Partnerships
  • Current Status of Company/Product
    • Pros and Cons of open-source business model
    • 2-3 Lessons learned

Expected Deliverables

  1. Compilation of findings from interviews/consultations
  2. First draft of business case reports (5-6 pages each) – end of week 4
  3. Second draft of business case reports and summary recommendations incorporating results from pilot testing and UNICEF comments – end of week 7
  4. Final drafts of business case reports and summary recommendations- end of week 8
  5. Final drafts of 1-pagers and ppt slides – end of week 9

Qualifications and experiences

  • Academic qualifications in business, law or in a related field such as economics, organizational behavior, management, entrepreneurship, operations research, development, children or social research.
  • Good qualitative and quantitative research skills including experience in case research and development.
  • Experience conducting research & evaluating business models is desirable.
  • Familiarity with entrepreneurship and experience in developing countries would be desirable.
  • Excellent knowledge of English (knowledge of additional languages a plus).
  • Experience in computer data entry for research analysis is recommended.
  • Demonstrated ability to work with people of various professional, academic and cultural backgrounds.

How to Apply

Qualified candidates are requested to submit:

  1. Cover letter
  2. Financial quote for project delivery within stated timeframe
  3. CV
  4. Two writing samples presenting desk- or interview-based research findings and recommendations (max 10 pages each)
  5. P-11 form (which can be downloaded from our website at

The above information should be submitted to with subject line “Business Model Research” by 8 September 2015.


At UNICEF Innovation, we are creating a set of business models for open-source startups (in hardware, software, and research), particularly in the developing world, that would provide value back to investors, founders, and others, while creating global public goods. These models, a few for each ‘modality’ (software as services, open hardware design, etc.), would demonstrate the ability of open-source businesses to generate revenue, investment, and scale.  

Underlying the products in UNICEF Innovation’s portfolios is a mandate to create common open-source platforms, applications, and systems for partners to use. UNICEF’s Innovation Fund has been established to support the development of open-source tools that bring results for children. Presently, there is limited documentation of proven business models around open-source products and services that can be employed by startups and other businesses addressing development needs.

UNICEF seeks support in the identification and documentation of successful open-source business models. The resulting business cases would provide insight on viable business models for open-source startups in the developing world, and contribute to UNICEF Innovation’s strategy to create and support common open-source platforms, applications and systems that bring results for children.  UNICEF will launch these business cases in November at its Global Innovations for Children & Youth Summit in Helsinki.