Are you a startup founder based in emerging or developing economy? Learn from seasoned entrepreneurs to solidify your understanding of open source, learn to leverage open source market strategies to develop financial sustainability, and develop tangible skills in designing open source business models, setting the stage for revenue channel generation.

The UNICEF Innovation Fund provides investment and support to frontier technology solutions that address the biggest challenges facing children today.

This course is designed for open source companies receiving investment from UNICEF’s Innovation Fund, and, in the spirit of open source, it is made available to any startups that are exploring the possibility of going open source.

Learning objectives

At the end of the course you will be able to:

  • Describe how open source can help startups overcome some of the challenges startups typically face
  • Choose between different open source licenses based on the needs of your startup
  • Identify potential market strategies for your open source business
  • Design your own open source business model canvas


  • Startups that are part of UNICEF’s Innovation Fund portfolio
  • Startup companies in emerging and developing markets
  • UNICEF staff (country offices, Regional Offices and HQ) interested in understanding Open Source


It should take you about 2.5-4 hours to complete this self-paced course. 


The course is divided into 5 sessions:

Session 1 is an introduction to the course.

In Session 2 on Defining a Sustainable Business Model for Future Markets, you will learn about:

  • What are the challenges that startups typically face?
  • What is open source?
  • How can open source make a startup more competitive?
  • What are some myths and misconceptions that exist surrounding open source?

In Session 3 on Adopting an Open Source Approach and Market Strategy, you will learn:

  • The key elements one should consider when thinking about going open source (including repositories, forums, and licensing)
  • What open source market strategies exist
  • What exit options exist for open source companies and why larger companies may be willing to pay a premium for open source acquisitions.

In Session 4 on the Opportunities and Challenges of Open Source as a Market Strategy, you will learn:

  • What the primary benefits of open source are for businesses and how industry leaders have been able to leverage those benefits in their companies
  • What the challenges of open source are and how industry leaders have been able to address those challenges.

In Session 5 on Developing and Executing Your Open Source Business Model, you will learn:

  • How to do market research to validate your idea
  • How to generate a business plan and utilize the business model canvas, including what developing an open source business model might look like for an example company
  • How to iterate effectively with your business model canvas as a guide, rather than a limitation, so that your product is the best it can be
  • What sources of funding are available for open source businesses working in the international development context.


This course is composed of 5 modules:

1.  Introduction 

2: Defining a Sustainable Business Model for Future Markets

  • Today’s Market
  • A Market Strategy to Prepare You for the Future
  • Case Study: UFORA
  • Myths and Misconceptions

3: Adopting an Open Source Approach and Market Strategy

  • An overview of Open Source
  • Open Source Repositories
  • Open Source Forums
  • Licensing
  • Open Source Market Strategy Options
  • Exit Options for Open Source Businesses

4. Opportunities and Challenges of Open Source as a Market Strategy

  • Benefits of Open Source
  • Challenges of Open Source and How to Mitigate them
  • Deep Dive: RedHat and RedCrow

5. Developing and Executing Your Open Source Business Model

  • Step 1: Research
  • Step 2: Plan
  • Step 3: Finance
  • Step 4: Build
  • Step 5: Assess and Iterate
  • Course Conclusion

Contact details

Technical issues: