Matchbox FAQs

Anca Matioc

As we near the Matchbox application deadline of September 28, here are our answers to some frequently asked questions that might help you in your application.

  1. What is Matchbox?
    • Matchbox is The Engine Room’s intensive and and holistic support format. Each year, we select two teams in each region – Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa – to partner with. During a Matchbox partnership, we accompany the teams for 12 to 18 months as they implement their projects and strengthen their skills and capacities. Matchbox is not a consultancy nor a funding opportunity.
  2. What does intensive, holistic support mean?
    • We describe Matchbox as intensive because we work with our partners over a long period of time and give them in-depth, demand-driven support. We describe the support as holistic because we support both the project as well as the organisation it lives in, with everything from design and strategy, to security and privacy. We accompany the Matchbox partners by supporting them in: (1) designing and implementing a project that addresses a socio-political problem, (2) strengthening the organisation and (3) increasing the team’s data and tech intuition.
  3. How long does the partnership last?
    • Most Matchbox partnerships last between 12 to 18 months. The specific time depends on the team’s needs and the project plan we develop together.
  4. Does the partnership come with funding?
    • No. The Matchbox partnership is not a grant program. As part of our work with our partners, we do often discuss strategies to secure funding and connect them with relevant organisations. Still, the support we give through the Matchbox partnership comes at no cost to our partner organisation.
  5. How does the partnership work?
    • The Matchbox partnership is led by our Matchbox leads (Anca in Latin America and Nonso in Sub-Saharan Africa). They accompany the partner, from the inception and design to the development and implementation of their project, all while strengthening the team’s capacities and skills. Depending on the needs of the partner and their project, the Matchbox leads may assemble a team of experts – either internal or external to The Engine Room – to further support the development of the project.
    • The support happens both remotely as well as in person. During the majority of the 12-18 month partnership, our regional leads support the partner long distance, as we may not be located in the same city or country. Nevertheless, we prioritise getting to know our partners in person and travel to their location to work alongside them for days at a time.The Matchbox partnership is intensive and demand-driven. This means the more time and effort the partner dedicates to the project and partnership, the more they can take advantage of the support.
  6. Who can apply?
    • The call for applications is open to everyone who meet the following criteria: (1) your team and work are based in either Latin America or Sub-Saharan Africa, (2) your team is already constituted as an organisation or if you’re in the process of becoming one; and, (3) you’re seeking to address a socio-political problem in your context and are interested in leveraging the strategic use of data and tech to do so. For example, this includes if you’re in the transparency and accountability space, fighting corruption, or working towards positive social change.
  7. Who benefits most from a Matchbox partnership?
    • We encourage teams to apply that are very open and eager to learn, especially if you’re just starting. We’ve seen that those that most benefit from Matchbox are interested in building their capacities in project design and development, tech intuition, and strengthening their organisation to better fulfill their mission. In addition, our successful partners start with an in-depth understanding of their target issue. This context specific knowledge plus a drive and interest in learning are very important for a team to benefit from such an intensive and holistic style of support.
  8. For the 2018 call for applications, when is the deadline to apply by?
    • Please submit your application here by 28 September, 2018. You can do so in English or in Spanish. The entire selection process will last until approximately December. We will announce our new partners in January 2019.
  9. Who can I contact with further questions?
    • Feel free to get in touch with our Matchbox leads; Anca, our Latin America Lead, and Nonso, our Sub-Saharan Lead, at

For additional information and inspiration, here are some materials to browse through about Matchbox:


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