Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced 16 new awards through its Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) to test and scale breakthrough solutions to the world’s most intractable development challenges. The successful organizations, many of which are new to working with USAID, span six sectors and nine countries.
Among the award winners, DIV will fund five new USAID partners:
- In the Republic of Rwanda, Ampersand will scale a successfully piloted start-up business that provides battery-powered electric motorcycle taxis and solar-powered battery stations.
- In the Republic of India, Avanti Fellows will test a low-cost blended-learning innovation that combines a structured curriculum, peer learning, teacher support, and video instruction in public schools.
- In India, Good Business Lab Foundation and factory operator Shahi Exports will test the effects of a low-cost mental-health intervention for migrant female factory workers.
- In the Federal Republic of Somalia, the Laboratory for Effective Anti-Poverty Policies at the Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi will test the effectiveness of a simple, low-cost approach to shifting behavior around female genital mutilation in Somalia. The research will identify opponents of female cutting within communities to build a safe network of allies to support a change in the behavior.
- In the Republic of Botswana, Young 1love, will roll out the Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) program to help students learn and build foundational skills.
Other winning innovations include a low-cost fungus-based seed treatment to increase resiliency for low-income farmers, the testing of a new type of micro-equity financing program for small enterprises, and a predictive analytics tool that uses artificial intelligence at scale to improve the performance of frontline workers in India. In addition, in the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, researchers will test different variations of a hands-on training program to provide job skills and match young adults to employers in high-demand trades. Awards also include the rigorous testing of a new conflict-resolution method among farmers and herders in the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a behavioral approach to reducing hunger between harvests in the Republic of Zambia.
Additional DIV award winners include Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL); Adaptive Symbiotic Technologies; the Center for Effective Global Action; Dimagi, Inc.; Innovations for Poverty Action; Jacaranda Health; Johns Hopkins University; the London School of Economics; the University of Colorado Boulder; and the University of Oxford.
Other awardees are working with governments to scale and evaluate closely unique interventions, including a home-based hygiene and water-treatment approach to reduce diarrhea in rural Bangladesh.
DIV is USAID’s open innovation program that supports implementers and researchers to test new ideas, take strategic risks, build evidence of what works, and scale the highest impact and most cost-effective solutions. Co-founded in 2010 by Nobel Laureate Dr. Michael Kremer, DIV invests in innovative, evidence-driven solutions that transform millions of lives at a fraction of the usual cost. Inspired by the venture-capital approach, DIV’s tiered funding model maximizes impact per dollar spent: Under DIV, USAID invests small amounts to pilot and test rigorously a variety of relatively unproven ideas, and makes large investments only in those that demonstrate robust evidence of impact, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability.
Since 2010, DIV has funded over 225 innovations across 47 countries and improved the lives of over 55 million people.
Innovators can apply to DIV for funding of up to $5 million for a product, service, the application of a business or delivery model, a behavioral intervention, or the replication of proven innovations in novel environments. In addition to staged funding, DIV offers separate evidence grants, which provide up to $1.5 million for research into, and evaluations of,widely used development approaches that lack sufficient evidence of impact and cost-effectiveness. USAID accepts applications to DIV from anyone, anywhere, anytime.