Grand Challenges Canada, funded by the Government of Canada and other partners, is currently accepting proposals for Round 2 of its Options for Pregnancy Termination Innovation (OPTions) Initiative to save and improve the lives of women and girls through improved access to safe and legal abortion.

The goal of this Request for Proposals (RFP) is to support Bold Ideas with Big Impact® for women’s and girls’ access to safe abortion in low- and middle-income countries. They seek innovative and transformative approaches that put women and girls in control of where, when and how they terminate their pregnancy. The focus of this call is therefore to support the development and testing of:

  • new approaches to increasing early access to existing abortion products and services
  • next generation methods of pregnancy termination

Areas of Focus

Grand Challenges Canada seeks bold ideas designed to be implemented in low- and middle-income countries that focus on access to safe abortion. These bold ideas could originate from non-profit organizations and for-profit organizations, as well as other recognized institutions. The following types of institutions are particularly encouraged to apply and will be viewed favourably in the review process:

  • Institutions external to the existing sexual and reproductive health and rights network
  • Institutions that add value and bring new perspectives to the safe abortion space
  • Institutions that are positioned to introduce novel ways of addressing the problem
  • Social enterprises and feminist organization

Proposed innovations must be bold, innovative, transformational and ‘outside-the-box’, and must have the potential to make a substantial impact to improve access to safe abortion. The innovations are expected to improve access to safe abortion through either of the following two focus areas:

  • Increasing early access to manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) and medical abortion (MA). This includes but is not limited to the following:
    • Increasing the number of trained providers and available safe services
    • Improving access to information that will help a girl or woman safely terminate a pregnancy
    • Reframing and normalizing abortion to combat stigma
    • Decentralizing and de-medicalizing abortion care
    • Reducing economic barriers to accessing safe abortion
    • Reclassifying existing abortion methods to fit within relevant regulatory frameworks
  • Introducing a next generation method of safe abortion that provides one or more significant improvements over existing methods, including:
    • The ability to be effectively administered at later stages in gestation
    • Effectiveness at terminating pregnancy
    • Ability for girls and women to access and self-administer with greater autonomy and privacy
    • Ease of compliance (e.g. single pill administration)
    • Reduced side effects and pain
    • Stability profile
    • Permissive within existing regulatory frameworks (e.g., it has other primary indications)
    • Cost effectiveness

Funding Information

Successful proposals will be awarded seed grants of up to $250,000 CAD over 18 to 24 months to develop and test the proposed innovation. Assuming a sufficient number of proposals of merit are received, approximately 20 seed grants will be awarded in this round.

Target Beneficiaries

Innovations must ultimately benefit women and girls amongst the poorest of the poor in eligible low- and middle-income countries (mentioned below).

Eligibility Criteria

  • Eligible applicants include social enterprises and other recognized institutions (e.g., non-profit organizations, academic institutions, and for-profit companies) that:
    • are not previous or current direct grantees of the very large anonymous donor
    • are formed and legally incorporated in an eligible country, as determined by which focus area of the RFP an institution is applying to
    • can successfully execute the activities in their respective technical area are capable of receiving and administering grant funding
    • are not sole proprietorships
    • are not United Nations country offices
  • Only institutions legally incorporated in a low- or middle-income country are eligible to apply to the ‘increasing access to existing methods of abortion’ focus area of the RFP. Institutions from all countries, including high-income country institutions, are eligible to apply to the ‘next generation methods of abortion’ focus area of the RFP.
  • A project can have only one (1) Project Lead, who must be affiliated with the institution from which the proposal is being submitted.
  • A Project Lead may only be listed on one (1) application to this Request for Proposals.
  • Each institution may only submit one (1) proposal per focus area of the RFP (i.e. one proposal for innovations that increase access to existing methods of abortion and one proposal for next generation abortion methods). For universities, one (1) proposal per focus area of the RFP will be accepted from each research center within the university.
  • Project Leads funded under OPTions Round 1 are ineligible to submit an application for Round 2; however, institutions funded under Round 1 are eligible to apply (if the above criteria are met) with a different Project Lead.
  • Applications must include all required information. Only complete applications will be considered by the Review Committee.
  • Proposed ideas must be aligned with the Areas of Focus and the Target Beneficiaries.
  • It is the applicant’s responsibility to obtain any necessary legal and/or regulatory approvals, consents or reviews required to accept foreign grant funds and/or conduct the project activities before executing a funding agreement with Grand Challenges Canada. For example, applicants planning to conduct project activities in India may be required to register with the Ministry of Home Affairs under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act of 2010 (FCRA). As part of the Grand Challenges Canada’s diligence, successful applicants will be required to provide their organization’s registration under FCRA or a written certification that FCRA registration is not required. Failure to comply with the requirements of FCRA may subject your organization to financial and/or criminal penalties. You should consult with your own advisors to determine whether FCRA applies to organization or project.
  • Grand Challenges Canada may, at any time and at their sole discretion, modify eligibility criteria with respect to individual applicants, Project Leads and/or eligible countries, to the extent that such modifications do not materially undermine the review process.


  • Grand Challenges Canada must approve any changes in applicant organization, institution or Project Lead from the originally-submitted application.
  • Collaboration with an innovator based in a low- or middle-income is encouraged for applicants from high-income countries, but it is not required.
  • Project Leads are required to seek and obtain sign-off from their affiliated institution before submitting their application.


For more information, visit OPTions Initiative.


Name of the Organisation
OPTions Initiative
Grant Amount
CAD 2,50,000
Closing date of Proposal
Tuesday, 14 April, 2020
RFP Email
Organisation Logo