A Social Rate of Return Approach to Measuring the Portfolio-Level Impact of Social Innovation Funds: A Case Study of the Development Innovation Ventures Program
Speaker: Michael Kremer
Many social innovation funders struggle with the same challenge: How do they meaningfully measure their impact as funders? As funders, the theory of change connecting their funding to ultimate development outcomes is intrinsically attenuated due to the nature of a funder’s role, which is to catalyze and support others, such as direct service providers, in driving development impact. Like other such funders, USAID’s tiered, evidence-based innovation fund - Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) - has tested various methodologies for measuring its impact. Since its inception in 2010, it has invested over $105 million in 183 awards to pilot, test, and scale innovations across all sectors in which USAID operates and the majority of countries in which USAID works. How has DIV refined a social rate of return methodology to assess its impact? And, what has been the portfolio-level impact of these investments?
Beyond Products: Ecosystem Approaches to Fostering Local Innovation
Panelists: Molly Wenig Rubenstein (moderator), Nathaniel Heller, Kippy Joseph, Kathy Qian
In a complex and ever-changing world, the conditions that reinforce poverty and inequality are never linked to a single challenge, but rather a web of interconnected challenges. Traditional development approaches do not suffciently enable communities to tackle challenges such as climate change, food insecurity, and lack of economic opportunity at a local level. Tapping into local ingenuity and building a supportive culture of problem-solving is critical to building vibrant, inclusive, and resilient innovation ecosystems that can address these challenges. Good ideas live everywhere — from favelas in Brazil to farming communities across rural Uganda to the bustling streets of Delhi, India. Local innovation ecosystems can be powerful movements to harness local resources; build a shared ethos of collaboration, experimentation, and learning; and create an enabling environment to generate solutions that improve the lives of people living in poverty. But building an inclusive local innovation ecosystem isn’t easy. What the critical ingredients that all innovation ecosystems need? How do we help local innovation ecosystems grow and thrive in developing economies? Slides available upon request: Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Building Evidence into USAID Program Design: Academia-Donor Partnerships in Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance
Panelists: Rebecca Wolfe (moderator), Chris Fariss, James Habyarimana, Morgan Holmes, Erik Wibbels
Is citizen advocacy or central government oversight more effective at reducing corruption in delivery of public services? Is there an economic argument for providing free legal assistance to the poor? Can elections be leveraged to incentive better public service delivery at the local level? These are just a few of the questions with which many donors and practitioners grapple. Grounded in its Learning Agenda, USAID’s Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG) Center of Excellence has pioneered partnerships between USAID practitioners and leading academics to inform USAID strategic planning and programming in this critical sector as well as to address gaps in the global evidence base on what works in democracy, rights, and governance. This panel brought together USAID practitioners and leading political scientists from top universities to discuss the latest in democracy, rights, and governance research and why such academia-donor relationships are win-win for both.
Speaker: Ruth Levine
Enterprise Replication: Accelerating Change in Mexico through Replication of Evidence-Based, Private Sector Path to Scale Solutions
Speaker: Germán Zubia
An entrepreneur develops a social enterprise that profitably delivers high-quality, low-cost pre-Kindergarten to rural households in India. A technology company develops a monetizable mobile communications platform that delivers high-quality, localized agronomic advice and price information to small holder farmers in Ghana. These businesses might deliver meaningful impacts to their customers in India and Ghana, but why should they be limited to just those countries?
While the private sector cannot solve all problems, we often think of the solution to many social challenges is the development of a new technology or business model. Connovo believes that there plenty of good business ideas out there already and the real challenge is how to replicate and adapt the market-validated ideas to the Mexican context. Connovo is the first "impact venture-builder" based in Mexico that “scales what works.” Watch this video with Connovo’s co-founder to learn more about its unique replication methodology that finds successful innovations backed by evidence and assesses, packages, and transforms them into a highly impactful, scalable and profitable ventures specifically designed for the Mexican.
Evidence and Evaluation in U.S. Foreign Assistance: A Historical Perspective
Panelists: Cindy Huang, Raj Kumar
Over the past decade and a half, a broad consensus has emerged around the need for a focus on results and cost-effectiveness and the use of evidence and evaluation in U.S. foreign assistance. This conversation with leading policy figures focused on how this consensus emerged and what we can learn from it moving forward.
Evidence Use Today in U.S. Foreign Assistance - How Do We Measure Up?
Panelists: David Medina (moderator), Louise Fox, Tom Kelly
To what extent are leading U.S. foreign assistance agencies - USAID and the Millennium Challenge Corporation - currently using data, evidence, and evaluation to invest American taxpayer dollars in what works? According to Results for America - the organization behind Moneyball for Government and the annual Federal Invest in What Works Index - USAID and MCC are among the most “evidence-forward” agencies in the U.S. federal government. Watch this video with Results for America and senior evaluation-focused officials from both agencies to learn about the strides each agency has made over the past five years to strengthen its capabilities, policies, processes, and practices for using data, evidence, and evaluation to drive cost-effective delivery of development impact.
Forecasting, Tracking, and Evaluating Impact: The Global Innovation Fund's Approach to Practical Impact Analysis
Panelists: Ken Chomitz, Michael Eddy
Funders need to make decisions about how to deploy scarce resources to achieve the greatest impact. Yet, most of the time, we don't have good information about the possible benefits or costs of a program at the time of making that decision. In addition, funders are accountable for achieving results from their funding, but typical accountability cycles are often shorter than the time needed to observe impact at scale. Both funders and their partners could use continuous feedback on results to improve outcomes. During this session, the analytics team of the Global Innovation Fund, a private fund USAID helped to establish, will lead an interactive workshop presenting a lean, practical approach to forecasting, tracking, and evaluating impact. This updateable approach helps to direct limited resources to where they could plausibly have the greatest impact, uses a common measure of impact across multiple sectors and meets a demand to report on expected impact before projects have final results.
From Evaluation Findings to Impact at Scale: How Researchers and Social Entrepreneurs are Collaborating to Put Evidence into Action
Panelists: Norma Altshuler (moderator), Rukmini Banerji, John Floretta, Karen Levy, Mushfiq Mobarak
While the body of rigorous evidence about what works in development has grown substantially over the past two decades, there are many fewer examples of that evidence being iterated on, adapted, and implemented at large scale. Why? In part, because evidence generation and scale-up are very different capabilities, and the messy, often politically, organizationally, operationally complex process of delivering impact at scale is hard. Behind some of the best examples of scale-up of evidence-based innovations are strong collaborations between, on the one hand, researchers committed to impact at scale and, on the other hand, social entrepreneurs committed to grounding their work in rigorous evidence - with often times both working hand-in-hand to support a government or other local partner. Such collaborations are facilitating the growth of many high-impact interventions and have led to substantial improvements in the lives of millions. Such partnerships offer researchers opportune testing grounds for generating early evidence about a new innovation as well as an ongoing partner for testing at scale. Meanwhile, these collaborations provide evidence-based social entrepreneurs new insights about their work, allowing them to iterate on and strengthen their programs, as well as the credibility and validation that can come from opening one’s model to rigorous testing. These partnerships are successfully putting evidence into action, identifying and testing high-impact, pro-poor innovations and co-creating cost-effective programs for massive scale.
Geospatial Technology: A New Perspective on Development Challenges
Panelists: Carrie Stokes (moderator), Christopher Bessenecker, Jenny Frankel-Reed, Laura Hughes, Rachel Trichler
Geospatial technology has unlocked a wealth of data about our earth and surroundings. From satellite imagery to GPS devices, location-based demographic data, geostatistical analysis and digital mapping, geospatial technology is helping drive the data revolution. This unprecedented access to geospatial information provides insights into where development projects are and where development need is greatest, allowing us to better target resources in the fight against poverty. This session will take a deeper look at how USAID is using geospatial technology to revolutionize the development enterprise. A panel discussion featuring guests from USAID's innovative, geospatial investments reflected on the past, present, and future impacts of this ever-evolving technology for development.
Improved Flooring as a Health Insurance: How One Social Enterprise has Used and is Generating Rigorous Evidence through its Commercial Floor Sales Model
Speaker: Gayatri Datar
When many people think about how to improve health outcomes in the developing world, many focus on obviously health interventions and/or health systems - immunizations, health workforce capacity, and so. But what about housing improvements, like improved flooring? As highlighted in the Center for Global Development's Millions Saved case studies on cost-effective health interventions, rigorous evidence from Mexico about concrete flooring suggests that such improvements can dramatically improve child health and even make mothers happier. Inspired by this evidence, American social entrepreneur, Gayatri Datar, launched EarthEnable to produce and sell custom-developed earthen floors to the 80% of Rwandans living with dirt floors. The floors - a cheaper alternative to concrete - eliminate unsanitary dirt floors and provide affordable, sanitary flooring that can be washed, cleaned, and used to create a healthy home environment for millions of people. Watch this video with Gaya to hear about EarthEnable's business model, how she looked to evidence to inform the venture, and how she is collaborating with Paul Gertler (Berkeley) and other leading researchers to deepen the evidence base on the improved flooring and test different approaches to the business model.
Improving Ongoing Programmatic Decision Making: Innovations in Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Learning
Panelists: Joshua Kaufman (moderator), Sarah Bieber, Neil Buddy Shah, Patrick Sommerville, Michael Woolcock
While standard approaches to Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) work well for many development projects, including those at USAID, when specific outputs and outcomes are not as easily identifiable up front, and where change might happen in a non-linear manner, these standard tools can fall short. This is especially true for projects operating in highly complex environments, where the best approach to the development problem is not well recognized, and project managers must adapt the project design over the course of the project. Join us for a discussion on whether and how technological and methodological innovations in Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Learning (MERL), can better enable real-time, evidence-informed decision-making. This discussion featured the conceptual underpinnings for MERL innovations, organizations supporting use of such innovative methods, users of such methods, and how USAID is promoting the use of these innovations in the Agency and development community more broadly.
Innovation to Action: Recognizing Leaders in Innovation
Emcee: Alexis Bonnell
From identifying a problem to be solved, sourcing the innovation globally and locally, and providing the seed funding to the actual application of the innovation in a real-world context to the thing we care about most—RESULTS—this special session is intended to recognize excellence at each point in the innovation continuum. Innovation is “a voracious appetite for excellence.” This session celebrated:
- Excellence in Vision
- Excellence in Partnership
- Excellence in Culture/Leadership
- Excellence in Execution and Operations
This session recognized the work being done around the world to maximize human potential and ensure that all people around the world are able to capitalize on their own possibilities. Maximized potential ultimately results in the ability to minimize AID.
This session demonstrated how innovation is a hand-up not a hand out.
Learning from the Best: The Potential for Machine Learning Innovations in International Development
Panelists: Max Richman (moderator), Peris Bosire, Dave Grenell, Karlo Valentin Rodriguez
Machine learning, the branch of artificial intelligence (AI) focused on giving computers the ability to learn from data without explicit programming, is providing millions of customers recommendations on Amazon and automating cars. But how can it be applied to drive better global development outcomes? Can machine learning innovations tackle the world’s toughest development challenges? This panel featured experts in machine learning, innovators using machine learning in their work, and organizations dedicated to the expansion of digital technology for development.
Millions Saved: Proven Success and Some Disappointments in Global Health
Speaker: Amanda Glassman
Many health programs are judged on their intermediate outputs—the number of prenatal care visits or the number of vaccine doses purchased—without a direct assessment of health impact. At the same time, many low- and middle-income countries are seeing rapid improvement in other drivers of health, such as girls’ education, urbanization, and economic growth. To make sure that our investments are making a difference for health, rigorous impact evaluation is key. Why so important? Because if we knew that health would have improved even without a health intervention, the money could have been better spent elsewhere. Check out this video with Amanda Glassman, a leading expert on evidence in the health sector, who discussed her work on Millions Saved -- gathering and analyzing 22 large-scale programs with rigorous evaluations to learn more about what works, and how evaluations have helped to grow the scale of programs and their impact.
Despite the real progress that has been made in the world of impact evaluation, many needed types of data are unavailable. For instance, cost-effectiveness is important to many donors and policymakers who want to know if the health gained is worth the cost of the program—and scarce health dollars. Yet few studies reported empirical estimates of cost-effectiveness; the Millions Saved team had to derive the other estimates from modelling and secondary sources. And some categories of intervention—for example, those against non-communicable diseases—remain woefully under-evaluated.
Nudging Our Way Toward Better Development Outcomes: How the Use of Behavioral Science Innovations Can Drive Cost-Effectiveness
Panelists: Alissa Fishbane (moderator), Annie Duflo, Elizabeth Fox, Shobhini Mukerji, Joanna Murray
How should policymakers and social enterprises in developing countries account for the fact that people are not hyper-rational, utility-maximizing machines? At the intersection of psychology and economics, behavioral economics studies how individuals actually think and behave, as opposed to how they’re expected to behave in abstract models. The word “innovation” often connotes words like “disruptive” and “game-changing,” which imply that only those ideas that produce highly visible, step-change improvements in outcomes are innovative; yet, the growing field of behavioral economics in development shows that marginal, sometimes even no-cost, changes to policy and program design can significantly influence the behavior and decision-making of the poor and public service providers alike, yielding better outcomes.
This panel featured thought leaders, practitioners, and researchers who are leveraging support and partnership with the U.S. government to test and scale innovations that rely on more realistic models of human behavior, centered on making public services more cost-effective and user-friendly. Panelists discussed a range of topics from how to effectively recruit more intrinsically-motivated, higher-performing community health workers in Zambia; how to induce behavior change related to contraceptive use in Burkina Faso; providing incentives to households to boost child vaccination rates in India; the importance of human-centered design in refining products and services; and how “less is more” when training microentrepreneurs in finance and accounting.
Our Conflict Blind Spot: Have We Been Thinking about the Problem the Wrong Way?
Speaker: Chris Blattman
Solutions to violence are driven by how we define the problem. Defining the problem as idle young men leads to employment programs. Defining the problem as greedy warlords leads to deals that give them power or turn a blind eye to corruption. And defining the problem as deep-seated grievances leads to re-education or propaganda programs. What if these are not the fundamental problems that leads to conflict? Then the solutions might not be solutions at all. Game theorists tend to think about all conflict as failed political bargaining. These bargains fail for a small number of reasons, especially bad information and difficulty making a stable commitment not to attack. It turns out, most conflict interventions can be discussed in terms of their effects on bargaining. And the evidence shows that the solutions with the best track record are the ones that solve the basic problems of bargaining. Examples include mediation, peacekeeping, and some but not all kinds of aid. From the village to the country level, once we redefine the problem, we redefine the solutions that make sense and will work.
Partnering for Evidence-Based Innovation with the Private Sector: The Global Innovation Fund
Panelists: Alix Zwane (moderator), Mari Kuraishi, Ben Leo, Kola Masha, David McKenzie
In 2012, USAID had begun to see successes from and generate excitement around its Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) program - the Agency’s tiered, evidence-based, open innovation fund. USAID and DFID began discussing ways to enable other donors, like DFID, to take part in this type of model. Two years later, USAID announced the launch of the Global Innovation Fund (GIF), a non-profit innovation fund supported by USAID, DFID, Swedish SIDA, Omidyar Network, and Australian DFAT. GIF’s design was originally inspired by the programmatic approach and experience of DIV at USAID, and USAID served as one of GIF’s founding funders, helping to crowd in other bilateral funders. Nearly three years into the launch of the fund, this panel featured GIF leadership and supporters reflecting on lessons learned from this partnership model for supporting evidence-based innovation.
Paying for Results in Development: Advice for and from Practitioners
Panelists: William Savedoff (moderator), Dianne Calvi, Terry Gray, Avnish Gungadurdoss, Ryan Moore
In an environment where funders and governments are concerned with achieving more with less, where it's becoming ever more urgent to effectively address the needs of vulnerable communities, Results-Based Financing (RBF) has rapidly emerged as an essential tool to maximize the effectiveness of public funding in international development. In the last decade, we have witnessed RBF gain momentum in a range of sectors (such as health, education, workforce development, or institutional strengthening), with more than $26.9 billion USD disbursed in over 78 low and middle-income countries. We have also witnessed a corresponding recognition of the challenges involved in designing and implementing RBF in a thoughtful manner, that actually unlocks its potential and leads to improved social outcomes. As Owen Barder, from the Center for Global Development, simply put, “for payment by results to work, you have to get a lot of things right.”
In light of the evident transition towards a focus on outcomes in today’s field of international development, it is crucial to ensure that policy-makers, funders, investors, and service providers alike understand how to best apply this cutting-edge mechanism to their specific context and how to adapt and equip themselves with the necessary technical know-how to succeed.
This panel built on the experience of various stakeholders undertaking different roles across the landscape of RBF, including leading service providers, donors, and intermediaries. The panel offered a deeper look into the practice of RBF, following the journey that these actors took in their transition to a focus on outcomes; from the motivation behind their strategic move, to the challenges encountered and the actions taken to successfully address these.
Poverty Measurement in the Age of Lean Data: An Introduction to the Progress Out of Poverty Index (PPI)
Panelists: Varun Kshirsagar, Julie Peachey
The Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI) is a poverty measurement tool for organizations and businesses with a mission to serve the poor. Whether you are new to the PPI or have used it in the past, come learn about the basics of a tool that has become the global standard for household-level poverty measurement. The PPI team at Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) shared exciting news about changes to the development of the tool, and also ways that organizations and businesses are leveraging their PPI data for decision-making.
Scaling Evidence-Based Innovations in Education with Government Partners
Panelists: Marcia Davidson (moderator), Susannah Hares, Chris Neilson, Laura Poswell, Sridhar Rajagopalan
Though enrollment in primary education has seen unprecedented gains over the last decade, learning levels remain low across many developing countries, with many enrolled students lacking basic reading and mathematics skills. The progress made in school enrollment has been countered by new bottlenecks: schools are flooded with first-generation learners, resulting in classrooms with heterogeneous learning levels; teachers are pressured to complete dense curricula and prepare students for high-stake exams, leading them to teach to the top of the class; poorly resourced schools have neither the human nor material resources to support adaptive, student-centered learning. Though in school, large numbers of children are failing to acquire basic skills and falling further and further behind as they are pushed through the education system.
As resource-constrained governments seek scalable solutions to improve the quality of primary education programs, recent research has provided encouraging evidence that relatively low-cost interventions can make substantial impacts on learning outcomes. This panel featured researchers and innovators, including several that are USAID partners, who are working with governments to understand and incorporate innovative models to improve educational quality and learning outcomes, including regrouping and teaching students by ability, introducing adaptive learning technologies, improving access to information about the value of education, and innovating in service delivery through public-private partnerships.
Systematic Reviews 101: Using and Commissioning Systematic Evidence in International Development
Speaker: Hugh Waddington
Evidence from rigorous studies about what works, for whom and why, in particular contexts, is expanding rapidly. But additional work is needed to verify the claims made in these single studies, extract findings, and draw lessons for policy and practice. Systematic reviews help decision makers by providing an assessment of the evidence base, what findings are generalizable, and what findings are context-specific. Join 3ie: International Initiative for Impact Evaluation - of which USAID has been a member since 2010 - for this session that will introduce participants to the systematic evidence process, asking answerable questions for systematic reviews, and interpreting the evidence they provide. It is aimed at decision makers funding and implementing development programmes and research, including, for example, USAID staff, USAID implementing partners, social entrepreneurs, and those working for development philanthropy bodies.
Transitioning from Paper to Digital Data Collection for Non-Techies: An Introduction
Panelists: Ruthie Leifer, Christopher Robert
Digital data collection platforms enable you to collect richer, higher-quality data than paper-and-pencil methods, often more cheaply. However, many projects in global development continue to use paper-based methods or outsource digital instrument development under the impression that it requires programmers or lots of technical capacity. That is no longer the case! Learn how easy, accessible, and affordable it has become to switch to digital data collection technology, how your project or organization can make the transition without technical experts, and how all types of projects -- whether they are rigorous impact evaluations, routine M&E, process monitoring, or other forms of data collection -- can benefit.
The Ultra-Poor Graduation Model: Leveraging Rigorous Evidence and Ongoing Iteration to Scale One of the Most Effective Poverty Alleviation Innovations in Development
Speaker: Dean Karlan
Can intensive, time-bound support help households work themselves out of extreme poverty? Is it possible to make sustainable improvements in the economic status of the poor with a relatively short-term intervention? Over the past decade, a body of evidence across multiple regions about different approaches to the Ultra-Poor Graduation Model suggests that the answer is resoundingly yes to both of these questions. Graduation programs offer a holistic set of services designed to help ultra-poor households develop new livelihoods: a productive asset transfer (often livestock), along with training and regular coaching visits, consumption support (such as some form of a cash transfer), and savings services. Results published in 2015 show strong gains for program participants in income and consumption, food security, assets, savings, and mental health, across implementation models and contexts.
The Walmart Model: Process Improvements to Drive Cost-Effective Scale-Up of Evidence-Based Innovations
Panelists: Alicia Phillips Mandaville (moderator), Shaun Church, Maryana Iskander
Corporations like Walmart have excelled in using information technology, ongoing systems improvement, and other process innovations to drive efficiency, allowing them to maintain over 11,000 stores across 28 countries while becoming one of the most profitable retailers in the US. Similarly, highly evidence-based organizations like USAID partners, Living Goods and Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, not only prioritize rigorous evidence like impact evaluations, but also use evidence and data throughout the lifecycle of their program to increase their cost-effectiveness and ‘return on impact.’ For example, Living Goods has pioneered the use of an “Avon”-like door-to-door Community Health Promoter model, using improved performance management, incentives, and technology to achieve step-change improvements in performance and associated health outcomes, reaching farther than many last-mile distribution models. Meanwhile, Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, a youth employment accelerator based in South Africa, has set up a unique, data-driven process - one that is beginning to leverage the power of big data and machine learning - to enable unemployed South African youth who may lack traditional markers of employability, such as a college education, to find good jobs. Shaun Church (President, Living Goods) and Maryana Iskander (CEO, Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator) shared how their public sector innovations leverage the best of the private sector to drive impact and cost-effectiveness at scale.
Note: Kanika Bahl, CEO of Evidence Action, was originally scheduled to join this discussion to speak about Dispensers for Safe Water. Please visit their website or the Evidence Action booth in the Innovation Marketplace in the Atrium Ballroom to learn more about this ground-breaking, USAID-supported innovation.
Welcome & Opening Remarks
Speakers: Harry Bader, Mark Green
Honorable Mark A. Green, Administrator of USAID, gave opening remarks to kick-off Global Innovation Week. He shared remarks on how partnerships, entrepreneurship, and USAID's investments in scalable innovation get us closer to the day when U.S. development assistance is no longer needed.
When Do Innovation and Evidence Change Lives?
Speaker: Rachel Glennerster
Hundreds of millions of people across the developing world have benefited from evidence-based innovation. However, the link between research, on the one hand, and policy change and concrete impact for the lives of the poor, on the other hand, is complex and rarely follows a linear path. Over the last decade, we have learned a lot about how research and innovation are and are not incorporated into policy and practice. Rachel Glennerster, a leading development economist and Executive Director of J-PAL, shared lessons learned for moving from effective research to action from J-PAL’s nearly two decades of examples across sectors, including innovation scale-ups enabled by U.S. foreign assistance.
Why Not Cash? A Conversation about How Development's Simplest Idea Came to be its Most Proven Intervention
Panelists: Daniel Handel (moderator), Chris Blattman, Ruco Van Der Merwe, Piali Mukhopadhyay, Radha Rajkotia
Cash transfers are one of the most widely researched and proven development interventions in use today. Cash has predictable effects on improving people’s consumption and livelihoods in the short term, but it has also been found to have impacts on education, health, entrepreneurship, financial inclusion, and nutrition. Part of USAID’s mission statement is to end extreme poverty. Although it is an over-simplification, the “cost” of closing the poverty gap - the distance between what the poor currently make and the threshold for poverty ($1.90/day) - is now less than the total amount of money developed nations currently spend on foreign aid. This discussion with leading cash transfer practitioners and researchers focused on the robust evidence base underlying cash transfers and the potential for cash transfers to accelerate the elimination of extreme poverty and alleviate suffering in humanitarian crises.
Scale to Impact Day Presentations
Agriculture Innovator Pitch Session
Moderator: Ku McMahan
Innovation has immense potential to increase crop yields, reduce hunger, and improve livelihoods for farmers. In this rapid-fire pitch session, innovators focused on agriculture will pitch their products to investors and partners.This pitch session featured some of the most exciting innovators in the agriculture space and to ask questions about their products.
- Presentations: aQysta, Adaptive Symbiotic Technologies, Evaptainers, Green Heat, HarvestPlus, Hello Tractor, and PCI.
A Million Lives or More
Panelists: Alexis Bonnell (moderator), Shivi Chandra, David Hong, Nathaniel Manning, Ana Pantelic, Peter Scott
GIW ended with an incredible opportunity to hear the advice and insight of the 10 Million Lives club inductees, their words of wisdom and their insights about what it takes to impact millions of lives.
Applying Science, Technology and Innovation to Development Challenges: A Vision for the Future
Speaker: Steven Buchsbaum
A ten year veteran leader of the Grand Challenges Movement and former DARPA alum shared why open innovation matters and his vision for what the future of innovation might bring.
Beyond the Big Idea: Navigating Pathways to Scale
Speaker: Larry Cooley
Scaling” conjures images of disruptive technologies, transformative marketing, and explosive organizational growth. Think Google, Apple, McDonald’s, Uber, Airbnb. But in international development and humanitarian relief, bringing solutions to scale is rarely as straightforward as growing an organization, developing a new business model, or kick-starting a trend. Scaling often involves governments and other third-parties. Important “innovations” often rise or fall on the strength of changes in policies, incentives, funding flows and intermediation. The list of stakeholders able to facilitate or impede progress goes far beyond buyers and sellers, and the delivery of goods and services often involves a wide range of providers. All of these are realities that the back stories behind innovations like the green revolution, oral rehydration, bed nets, and mobile money make painfully clear. For these and other reasons, technological innovations and pilot projects aimed at widespread improvement of economic, social and health outcomes often bake in, with the best of intentions, elements that undermine scalability and neglect broken links in the value chain. Based on experience in helping to scale more than 200 development interventions, this presentation explored issues including: How do you design projects with scale in mind? How do donors ensure that their investments in innovation help to crowd in rather than crowd out non-state actors? What are the most promising pathways to scaling pro-poor development outcomes? How do official donors, host governments, social investors and private entrepreneurs each best leverage their comparative advantage and established relationships in scaling for the public good?
Building Innovation Culture: Development Organizations on the Rise
Panelists: Sara Farley (moderator), Benjamin Kumpf, Seema Patel, Mark Viso
As development organizations evolve to respond to the shifting nature of international development in the 21st century, a culture of innovation becomes critical. Organizations that promote creativity, agility, risk-taking and new forms of collaboration will be best poised to respond to the changing context of development and to scale innovative solutions. During this panel, leaders of development organizations from the Donor and partner community shared their experiences and lessons in encouraging a robust culture of innovation and enabling their staff to function as “intrapreneurs”, and their organizations to effectively respond to the change context of development practice. They discussed what mindset, capacities and skills are increasingly needed by development professionals, the role of leadership, what tactics have been successful in fostering innovation, collaboration and adaptive learning in their organization, how they overcome challenges associated with organizational change and the future of role of innovation in the development industry.
Closing the Financing Gap: Supporting Thriving Enterprises in Emerging Markets
Panelists: Sarah Bieber (moderator), Lauren Cochran, Maureen Harrington, Andy Herscowitz, Jenn Pryce, Anish Thakkar
As an energy entrepreneur, how do you tap into different types of funding? What are the emerging technologies that could help you achieve scale? What are the roles of public and private sector in helping the base of the pyramid gain access to modern, clean, affordable energy? How can we bring in new players beyond impact investors and the usual suspects? What types of capital do entrepreneurs need and what are the best ways to deploy it? This panel of investors, entrepreneurs, and development experts debated these questions and many others as they shared their insights on having an impact at scale.
Closing the Gender Digital Divide for Women's Economic Empowerment
Speaker: Michelle Bekkering
Over 1.7 billion women in low and middle-income countries do not own mobile phones, cutting them off from economic opportunities and community services. This statistic underlies the reality that women the world over are 14 percent less likely to own a mobile phone as compared to men. Even if a woman does own a mobile phone, she is far less likely to make full use of its potential. Yet closing the digital gender divide can be be an incredible catalyst for empowering women and girls around the world.
Design to Impact: Developing Human Centered Strategies for Sustainability
Speaker: Beth Kolko
Great ideas alone can’t change the world. We also need strategies for getting those ideas to scale and sustainability, so they can have great impact – especially in complex sectors like healthcare. Human centered design has been used successfully for innovative product development, and it can similarly be used to build sustainability strategies. Hear how Shift Labs and their DripAssist Infusion Rate Monitor used human centered design to create a tool for Ebola responders and then leverage that same technology to help improve maternal care in Haiti and military field medicine for US soldiers. Tapping into broader markets has helped them build a sustainable future and demonstrate how design can drive strategies for impact.
Digital Development - Building the Infrastructure of the 21st Century
Speaker: Priya Vora
Digital economies can create new economic opportunities that help lift people out of poverty. However, for these marketplaces to be truly broad-based and promote widespread economic participation, they require a foundation of digital infrastructure, such as inexpensive mobile phones and affordable broadband coverage, national identification systems, and interoperable payment systems that reach the last-mile. This digital infrastructure can also serve as a platform for innovative business models that deliver new services to untapped consumer markets in ways never before possible. Both the private sector and development organizations such as USAID have an important role to play in the development of this digital infrastructure. This session highlighted the different ways in which both government leadership and private sector investment in digital infrastructure is helping to unleash a wave of innovation that drives economic growth and is harnessed to tackle some of the world’s most intractable development challenges.
Digital Identity for Inclusive Development
Panelists: Shailee Adinolfi, Vyjayanti Desai, Catherine (Katie) Highet, Niall McCann, Emrys Shoemacher, Matt Wilson
There may be no single factor that affects a person’s ability to share in the gains of global development -- to receive services and be represented -- as much as having an official identity. Identity is tied to voting rights, financial inclusion, land ownership, education, and can even help protect against human trafficking or child marriage. Yet the complex forces behind identity systems are often overlooked or misunderstood, leading to inefficiencies and missed opportunities for inclusive and sustainable ID systems. With emerging digital technologies, the ID landscape is poised to become even more complex. Through an interactive workshop, participants unpacked vulnerabilities and incentives that may drive users and institutions to participate in or avoid ID systems. Together we critically assessed the different benefits and risks of ID interventions across sectors.
Innovations in Agriculture: Scaling Solutions for Smallholder Farmers
Panelists: Christopher Burns (moderator), Aesclinn Donohue, Brian Lysaught, Jenna Rogers Rafferty, Liisa Smits
The rural and fragmented nature of the agriculture sector makes it difficult to launch successful initiatives that can reach and support end-users - smallholder farmers. Tailoring new technologies, products, and service delivery models to solve the array of challenges across a dynamically changing agricultural landscape can be especially daunting in hard-to-reach areas. But there are a number of relatively new organizations that are demonstrating early success. How are leaders within the sector scaling their products and services to reach smallholder farmers? Can such activities be financially sustainable for an organization?
Overcoming Barriers to Scale: Lessons from Successful Businesses and Organizations
Panelists: Cathy Clark (moderator), Rukmini Banerji, Tony Kalm, Paul Needham, Claire Reed
Innovators across sectors and regions face common challenges in their efforts to grow and scale both their businesses/organizations and their impacts. Access to capital, challenges with talent acquisition, legal and regulatory issues, lack of experience entering new markets, product and service quality control, challenges with funders or other partnerships, and many others prevent promising innovators from growing more quickly and having the long-term development impacts that we all seek. The paths towards scale are different and yet the barriers are often very similar. How do you find the working capital needed to grow? How do you know if your business or organization is ready to expand? How do you decide where to go next? Is it possible to take the risks needed to accelerate growth while still prioritizing stability? With so many competing priorities and trade offs needed, how have successful businesses and organizations done it? This panel will address key issues areas facing innovators in their efforts to scale by looking at the experiences of several successful players in the development space, including different approaches and within different sectors. How have they overcome the barriers to scale that they faced in their paths towards scale?
Providing Safe, Sustainable Drinking Water at Large Scale: What We've Learned on Decentralized Solutions
Panelists: Louis Boorstin, Jim Chu, Virginie deMaupeou, Gillian Winkler
Safe Water Enterprises (SWEs, sometimes known as water kiosks) offer an innovative, decentralized approach to delivering safe, affordable water to the poor in urban, peri-urban and rural settings. Entrepreneurs, impact investors and governments have developed a range of SWE models over the last 15 years to deliver high quality, treated water services in an operationally and financially sustainable way.
This session drew on the findings from a new, in-depth study of 14 SWEs and the broader SWE sector to demonstrate the critical role they can play in achieving SDG 6. SWEs can provide safe water for at least 1 billion of the estimated 4.4 billion people who do not consume safe water daily because of unimproved sources and/or inadequate treatment. Comprehensive analysis from this study offers insights into what needs to be done to scale up the reach and impact of SWEs in order to realize this potential.
The session started with a quick overview of the main findings from the study followed by a panel discussion with representatives from three SWEs operating in four different countries (Cambodia, Ghana, Haiti, and India). The panel shared their views on the key challenges facing SWEs to achieve greater scale, efficiency and effectiveness.
Strengthening Impact Investing in Global Health
Speaker: Priya Sharma
With official development assistance flat-lining, new sources of funding will need to be identified to help make up the difference. Impact investing offers the opportunity to mobilize new and additional resources for global health and help improve outcomes by enabling health related innovations and social enterprises to grow and scale. However, the ecosystem for health focused social enterprises (HSEs) is not fully developed and that is making it difficult for many promising HSEs to access the appropriate capital and support they need to achieve maximum impact. This roundtable event brought together key players and stakeholders who are active in impact investing and global health, and begin a dialogue around how to work together to develop a supportive ecosystem that is necessary to allow HSEs to grow and scale, with an emphasis on creating an effective financial value chain to aid in their growth.
Using Agriculture to Address Rising Insecurity and Youth Unemployment in Nigeria: A Spotlight on Babban Gona
Speaker: Kola Masha
Babban Gona is focused on creating jobs for young people in Nigeria to counter extremism and instability. In this lightning talk, the organization's founder shared insights from the program and how development and economic growth can counter violent extremism.
- Adaptive Symbiotic Technologies
- Central University of Technology
- Green Heat
- One Acre Fund
Health & WASH
- Last Mile Mobile Solutions
- MANA Nutrition
- MIT CITE
- World Bank's Insurance Program