Blog Article

The Marketing Grants Program’s First Million


Ben Grossman

Publishing date


Early this January, we announced the re-launch of SDF’s to support the growth and user acquisition of projects built on Stellar. We’re excited to share that, since then, the program has distributed more than 1 million dollars to support the marketing efforts of Stellar ecosystem companies!

Before we go into where all that money went and for what, I wanted to provide a quick overview of what the Marketing Grants Program is and what it’s meant to accomplish.

What is the Marketing Grants Program?

As part of its commitment to bringing new individual users and businesses to the Stellar ecosystem, SDF offers marketing grants to support the growth and user acquisition efforts of projects built on Stellar. The Stellar ecosystem is global, and we believe products are at their best when they are designed by and for the local users they serve. And so, we believe one of the most effective ways to grow the Stellar network is to empower each ecosystem participant to grow their use cases and services locally.

SDF’s marketing grants provide support for a wide spectrum of tactics, including paid digital media, in-app incentives, offline marketing activities and events, PR and communications support, and expanding access to general marketing resources, such as onboarding new agencies or purchasing new tools and technologies. These are just some of the initiatives marketing grants support.

What projects are eligible for the Marketing Grants Program?

Marketing grants go to both new and existing projects with clearly defined Stellar-based use cases and project timelines. Our marketing grants are reserved for qualified teams that can define budgets, set benchmarks, execute on marketing campaigns, and deliver results.

It’s also important to clarify what marketing grants don’t support. Marketing grants do not support projects engaged in activities that encourage or promote: speculation, wash-trading, airdrops, and market manipulation related to XLM or any other digital asset issued on the Stellar network; investing in any digital asset or promoting statements around the price of digital assets; or any product/feature that promises interest, a dividend, or other appreciation and returns. SDF’s mission remains focused on supporting Stellar-built projects that drive forward the SDF mission and the Stellar network.

What are we trying to achieve with the Marketing Grants Program?

Launching a new business or service is never easy. Marketing grants help our ecosystem to take their projects from 0 to 1, kickstarting promising use cases and adding fuel to those that have already gained momentum. SDF is committed to bringing new businesses to the Stellar ecosystem and ensuring existing businesses are set up for success. The SDF mandate reflects this commitment, and SDF set aside a pool of 6B XLM dedicated to supporting a variety of activities related to user acquisition.

By receiving support from SDF for their marketing efforts, ecosystem participants will have the resources needed to scale the reach of their products and services, creating greater access to financial services. Incentivizing business, entrepreneurs, and developers globally to build meaningful use cases on Stellar benefits local users and communities using these services, the ecosystem, the network, and the blockchain space overall.

Now onto the good stuff…

Let’s highlight some companies we’ve funded through marketing grants


Elsa.Care is a remittance mobile app helping overseas Filipinos in Europe take better care of their loved ones back home. Elsa accomplishes this by partnering with financial institutions, nationwide local service providers, and cash networks to allow their users to instantly send what their families need. Elsa received a marketing grant from SDF to support the launch of a new Europe-to-Philippines remittance corridor, in which Tempo Payments, a Stellar anchor, serves as an onramp and and Cebuana serve as offramps.

Kickstarting a new launch means having the right go-to-market plan. Elsa submitted a detailed marketing grant proposal to SDF covering an array of tactics and budgets to set their launch up for success, from paid media to online and in-person events. A strong plan doesn’t stop there: Elsa set clear expectations in their grant proposal on how they would define success, including targets for customer acquisition and costs, as well as projections for transaction volume. With the funds from the grant, Elsa has seen their user base more than double, and their transactions grew +10% week-over-week through the second quarter of 2022.


Fonbnk is a fintech company enabling a frictionless, financial onramp for emerging markets. Leveraging the existing network of mobile phone accounts, anyone with a prepaid mobile SIM card can now access the global digital economy. When Fonbnk users load prepaid airtime credits onto their Fonbnk wallets, those credits are on-ramped to the Stellar network, and digitized into tokens named MIN. Users can then turn those MIN tokens into USD Coin (USDC) on Stellar, with the conversion happening near-instantaneously and with minimal cost.

When Fonbnk applied for a marketing grant, it requested marketing funding to offer USD Coin (USDC) incentives for new onboarding users to kickstart their activity, as well as funding to support the creation of new Stellar wallets for its users. With the marketing grant, Fonbnk was able to increase the number of new users using USDC to top up their phones with discounted airtime, as well as the number of users off-ramping back into physical cash through Stellar anchors such as Cowrie Exchange. In just one quarter, Fonbnk was able to acquire over 11,000 new Stellar wallet users, exceeding their projections by 20%.


Arf is a global stablecoin treasury, a provider of working capital financing, and cross-border settlement provider for licensed money service businesses (MSBs). Arf has teamed up with multiple Stellar anchors to establish new corridors worldwide via the Stellar network. With the success of these partnerships, Arf approached SDF to look for more ways to fuel their already exciting growth.

A marketing grant was the perfect fit to help Arf double down on existing and new tactics to onboard more MSBs onto the Stellar network. With its marketing grant, Arf launched a series of online webinars to educate and acquire new prospective MSBs. They also increased their profile at in-person events, attending, speaking, and sponsoring Fintech and Blockchain conferences across LATAM and Europe. Arf also dialed up their online presence by increasing their paid media marketing and amplifying new launches with press releases, all covered, in part, by grant funding.

Interested in applying?

All in all, the Marketing Grants Program is a fantastic opportunity to leverage additional funding to grow and promote your project’s Stellar use case. That said, SDF rigorously vets applications and requires all marketing grant recipients to clear due diligence and compliance checks.

To ensure your application is in top shape, we look for:

  • Traction: Is the project live with traction or preparing to launch soon?
  • Mission: Does the project have a connection to SDF’s mission of increasing financial inclusion and creating more equitable access to the world’s financial systems?
  • Impact: Will increased success of the project directly and positively impact the Stellar ecosystem?
  • Feasibility: Does the marketing proposal have a detailed execution plan with clear deliverables, timelines, and measurable milestones for success?
  • Capability: Does the project have its own marketing team or resources that could implement a co-created plan?

If you feel confident that your project can answer all the above and more, submit your grant application ! We look forward to reviewing your proposals and learning more about your project.