Check out what news outlets and other sources are saying about DIV.
In a DevEx question and answer session entitled Q&A: USAID's chief innovation officer on whole-of-agency integration, USAID's chief innovation officer Alexis Bonnell discusses how the USAID has entered the implementation phase of its transformation. She also discusses innovation at the agency, its impact, and the lessons learned from that innovation as DIV and the Lab prepare to become part of the Development, Democracy, and Innovation Bureau, which will provide support and technical assistance to everyone in the agency looking to bring innovation to their work.
For the sixth year in a row, DIV was mentioned under USAID on the Results for American 2018 Invest in What Works Federal Standard of Excellence, previously called the Invest in What Works Index. The Federal Standard of Excellence described the DIV model and how DIV financing is based on where a project is in its development and to what extent it has previously gathered evidence of success. To see DIV included in past years, see the Index for 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.
Stanford's Social Innovation Review article The Lean Startup Goes to Washington discusses DIV and how it has allowed USAID to uncover problems and solutions from innovations across the world who are addressing issues such as improving access to clean water or reducing traffic fatalities in Africa. It also discusses how programs like DIV improve federal grantmaking by adopting the methodologies of risk mitigation and Lean Startup philosophy. These programs exemplify social innovation, as they use better information to determine which programs work, can scale and improve lives, and can better optimize taxpayer resources.
“Of course, technology and innovation can play a huge role in improving the quality of life of poor people across the globe, but the surprising truth is that the right approach for harnessing that innovation hasn’t been incubated in freewheeling Palo Alto, but in the bowels of a supposedly hidebound government bureaucracy in Washington, D.C.”
Foreign Policy's article Can Silicon Valley Save the World? discusses the creation of DIV and its ambition to provide a model for serious public sector venture capital work that will create a piggybacking effect by attracting support from government donors and private company. It also provides information about CommCare, a start-up that received $1 million in funding from DIV with the intention of bringing modern medicine to rural India via mobile phone.
The Huffington Post’s article entitled Move Over World Bank: Bilateral Institutions Lead Investment Beyond the Grid discusses how bilateral institutions are stepping up to provide beyond the grid support in the absence of multilateral development banks’ contributions. It includes DIV as an example of a program that is helping building an impressive pipeline of companies serving populations beyond the grid.
MIT D-Lab’s new resource "The Metrics Cafe: Who decides what impact data gets measured? A guide to bring funders and grantees to the table" spotlights DIV as an example of an à la carte model for the relationship between a grantee and a funder. This model has more back-and-forth conversation, as the funder surrenders some control and consistency and gets more nuance, while the grantee is offered more agency and guidance. The spotlight describes the relationship DIV has with its grantees and what DIV offers in terms of definitions, templates, support, and technical assistance.
The Center for Global Development’s Note "Advancing the Evidence Agenda at USAID" reflects on discussions of reform and redesign of USAID, particularly the agency’s objectives of increased efficiency and effectiveness. It offers ideas for how Administrator Green and the agency can champion both new and ongoing efforts to generate and use more and better evidence in pursuit of increasingly effective and efficient aid programs.
MFAN's blog “Redesign Reaction: Reinventing Our Institutions for the Future of Global Development” offers the perspective that the best use of aid is to catalyze better solutions to problems that lie at the root of global development and then to get out of the way. Aid should emphasize innovation to solve problems and then enable scale through the private sector and local governments. MFAN highlights USAID’s DIV as an example of aid that fills a more leveraged role and provides risk capital to seed new solutions.
The World Policy Institute's article Infection Control and Hygiene in the Face of Ebola discusses how several programs are making efforts to tackle the severe problems associated with sanitation, water, and hygiene. The article mentions how DIV, in partnership with the Gates Foundation, supports new technologies and innovations that are sustainable and can be scaled in developing countries.
USAID’s Office of Economic Policy in the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment conducted a cost-benefit analysis of DIV investments in four off-grid solar energy companies. The analysis, entitled “Cost-Benefit Analysis of Off-Grid Solar Investments in East Africa,” found that DIV’s $8.4 million investment created an overall economic gain of $17 million in Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's book entitled "The Role of Science, Technology, Innovation and Partnerships in the Future of USAID" includes DIV as an example of initiatives that have begun to expand USAID’s reach in seeking competitively selected scientific and technological solutions to address development challenges. They also recommend that USAID expand DIV by investing in expanding DIV’s staged funding model.
Harvard's Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation's article Top 25 and finalists for Innovations in Government Award announced by Ash Center includes DIV as one of the finalists. The article provides a blurb describing what DIV is and how it goes about seeking and testing innovative ideas. It also provides information about DIV's investment so far, as well as details about some winners of DIV funding.
The Center for Strategic & International Studies article entitled Innovation and International Development: The Case of Development Innovation Ventures asks and answers three questions about what DIV is, why innovation in development is so important, and how the U.S. government incorporates innovation into mainstream development work.
In 2006, the Center for Global Development released a working group report that described an evaluation gap and proposed an international effort to systematically build evidence on what works in development in order to improve the effectiveness of social programs. Ten years later, CGD and J-PAL hosted the event “What Have We Learned? Improving Development Policy Through Impact Evaluation” where they highlighted the impact of DIV for its catalytic role in investing in evaluation and scale-up of evidence-based programs.
In 2016, the White House Global Development Council highlighted DIV as an example of the Obama Administration’s and USAID’s Commitment to evidence-based innovation. DIV was included in the White House Global Development Council’s progress report as an example of the Obama administration and USAID’s commitment to evidence-based innovation.
Fortune's article This Startup Has Brought Off-Grid Solar to 65 Million People mentions the role that DIV helped play in providing grant funding to d.light to help grow its home solar business. The Shell Foundation, USAID and DIV, and the United Nations Capital Development Fund provided an addition $5 million toward the new round of $22.5 million.
In 2016, USAID’s article Waste to Watts: DIV announces first WASH for Life grant to Sanergy announced that DIV’s first WASH grant would go to Sanergy, a startup that builds sustainable sanitation in urban slums. Within the article, Former U.S. Senator and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry congratulated them on having been selected. “DIV grants open up the space for great ideas that ultimately provide effective development solutions at a fraction of the cost.”
Nesta UK’s book “Innovation for International Development” includes the case study for DIV supporting Innovation for Poverty Action at their next stage of funding to expand research to understand how improved health worker productivity is affecting household health outcomes and the extent to which the Zambian Government is retaining its highly motivated health workers. It also offers three lessons from DIV.
DevEx’s article Why this $5 million may matter most for Off Grid Electric discusses DIV’s grant to Off Grid Electric, the first company to receive all three rounds of funding. The article explores the overall DIV process and its history of grants and discusses both its increasing relevance to social entrepreneurs and its success at getting the most bang for its buck.
In the 2nd edition of the book Moneyball for Government, the chapter on Data and Evidence in Foreign Assistance highlights DIV. A review of the book by U.S. Senator Chris Coons mentions how the authors of the book have a wealth of personal experience and considerable insights on DIV innovations as well as the innovations of other organizations.
The Financial Times article Innovation fever breaks out as development landscape shifts discusses how DIV uses an open competition to solicit ideas for tackling poverty. It also discusses DIV's strategy of supporting innovations that demonstrate they work, which is more often seen among Silicon Valley investors.
DevEx’s article Is the global aid community ready to ‘design for impact’? discusses the process of IDEO’s nonprofit arm applying for a DIV grant to improve sanitation in Ghana. Ultimately, after IDEO’s previous work in sanitation helped them to form a hypothesis and propose a solution, DIV awarded a $100,000 grant.
Gov Innovator Podcast Episode #28 is entitled Harnessing Silicon Valley funding approaches to drive breakthrough solutions in the public sector: An interview with Jeffrey Brown, Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) Program at USAID. The interview includes an overview of DIV, information about Stage 1 funding and an example related to strengthening the work of frontline health workers in India, information about Stage 2 funding and an example related to bringing safe power sources to villages in India, information about Stage 3 funding and an example related to promoting safe drinking water in Kenya, an overview of what it takes to run a staged grant program, and the applicability of DIV’s approach to other policy areas.
In the Lancet’s article entitled In the Global Fund's court: experimentation, evaluation, and the AMFm, DIV is mentioned as an organization that shares the view that processes that permit or enable experimentation and learning to be institutionalized have great promise. This institutionalization includes facilitating systematic development of solutions for complex problems, potential for scaling up, and protection from the usual disincentives and risks of innovation.
The 2012 Brookings Blum Roundtable report Old Problems, New Solutions: Harnessing Technology and Innovation in the Fight Against Global Poverty features a section entitled Delivering U.S. Leadership: Roles for the Public Sector. In this section, DIV was mentioned as a venture capital-style fund that awards competitive grants to pilot, rigorously test, and scale cost-effective development solutions.
The Center for Global Development’s essay Technology and USAID: Three Cheers and a Thousand Cautions discussed how early recipients of DIV’s programs include strong examples of following a model of being incremental, public-good, focused, and well-evaluated.