Here are the latest updates from DIV! Check back periodically to keep up to date.


October 13, 2020

New Job Opportunity!

USAID's Catalyst Project seeks a Researcher to support Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) research. The consultant is expected to compete this work in no more than 35 days (estimated 10 hours per week) between September 11, 2020 and March 11, 2021.


October 9, 2020

New Job Opportunity!

DIV seeks a Program Analyst II for a full-time position that will be a key member of the CDI Development Innovations Ventures (DIV team). The position is fully integrated into the DIV team and works closely with DIV staff and contacts internal and external to the Agency.


October 2020

USAID's Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) Announces $14.5 Million for Sixteen Awards for Cutting-Edge Initatives

On October 8, 2020, USAID published a press release announcing 16 new DIV grants totaling $14.5 million. The winning innovations will be implemented in Bangladesh, Botswana, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria,, Rwanda, Somalia, and Zambia.


October 2020

Testing a Scalable Model of a Diarrhea Intervention in Bangladesh

Diarrhea causes 1.3 million deaths per year, in part due to lack of proper handwashing with soap and water treatment. Johns Hopkins University developed an intervention that has been proven to reduce diarrhea prevalence among a particularly high-risk group: the households of people who were hospitalized with diarrhea in urban areas of Bangladesh. Known as the Cholera Hospital-Based Intervention for 7 days (CHoBI7) mHealth program, health workers provide information, chlorine tablets, a bottle of soapy water, a handwashing station, a safe water vessel, and weekly voice and text messages to reinforce proper hygiene and water treatment behaviors. The program currently costs just $2 per diarrhea episode averted, and is expected to result in future savings as fewer patients will need hospital-based care. The government of Bangladesh is interested in scaling the program, but necessary adaptations must first be rigorously tested to ensure they are effective. With support from Development Innovation Ventures (DIV), Johns Hopkins is conducting a randomized controlled trial to test a scalable version of the CHoBI7 program that examines two significant questions of interest to the government’s plans: “How large are impacts when beneficiaries receive chlorine tablets and soapy water for free, but must purchase and build the other materials themselves?” and “What is the program’s effectiveness in rural areas?” Building on a 2015 DIV grant that tested an earlier version of the CHoBI7 model, this study will evaluate the ability of the modified CHoBI7 mHealth intervention to lead to sustained uptake of promoted handwashing and water treatment behaviors and sustained reduction in diarrheal disease over time. The government of Bangladesh is closely engaged in the research and results from this evaluation will directly inform the program’s transition to scale.


October 2020

Jobs to End Poverty: Evidence from Bangladesh

As 2.5 billion youth enter the global labor force in the next 20 years, many will struggle to obtain jobs. In South Asia, 70 percent of workers are in short-term or informal jobs. Donors and governments spend billions of dollars on skills training programs, but evidence on the effectiveness of such training is limited. In Bangladesh, 10 million youth are currently unemployed or underemployed, often because they lack job skills required by businesses. With an Evidence Generation grant from USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures, the London School of Economics (LSE) is running a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of PROSPER, a skill development program operated by the NGO BRAC. PROSPER participants receive classroom as well as hands-on training where they are matched to an employer in a high-demand trade. During the trial, BRAC is offering PROSPER at different price points, including a deferred payment option in some cases, to young workers across 30 locations. The RCT will generate evidence on how credit constraints affect demand for skills training (including differences for young wives and mothers); how skills training affects employment, earnings, and aspirations; the cost-effectiveness of workforce development programs; and how the spillover effects of training workers affect current businesses and workers. The RCT results will help BRAC make PROSPER more effective as they scale it up beyond the RCT to eventually reach 500,000 youth. The findings will be published and widely disseminated to help USAID and other organizations to improve workforce skills development programs that reduce youth unemployment in low-income settings.


October 2020

Teaching at the Right Level in Botswana

Although 90 percent of children in Botswana are enrolled in primary schools, 50 percent are not able to read, write, or perform mathematical operations at grade level. To improve education outcomes, Young 1ove, a Botswana-based NGO, is implementing the internationally-recognized, evidence-based literacy and numeracy program Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL). The program––developed by the Indian NGO Pratham––assesses students’ learning levels and then groups them for lessons according to skill level, rather than age. A series of prior randomized controlled trials proved that this cost-effective approach helps students who have fallen behind to quickly build important foundational skills. With support from Development Innovation Ventures, and in close partnership with the government of Botswana, Young 1ove will build on lessons learned from its own implementation of the program to date as well as global TaRL efforts as they expand in Botswana. Young 1ove will test the performance of variations of the program to maximize impact and cost-effectiveness. It will also support the Government of Botswana to scale TaRL to 1.2 million students in all of its primary schools by 2025. This effort builds on past DIV-supported work to test and scale TaRL, including one of Pratham’s trials in India and J-PAL’s collaboration with the Government of Zambia, USAID/Zambia, and UNICEF to scale TaRL across Zambia.


October 2020

Parental Education and Childhood Development: Experimental Evidence from Ghana

In low- and middle-income countries, 50 million children under five years old are at risk of not achieving their developmental potential. Studies suggest that the education level of parents may positively influence their children’s development, but this causal link has not been proven. If true, then investing in secondary education today would improve outcomes for future generations. With support from Development Innovation Ventures (DIV), Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) is conducting a randomized controlled trial to compare the early childhood development outcomes of children in Ghana whose parents were randomly selected in 2008 to receive secondary school scholarships versus the outcomes of the children of parents in the control group. Led by psychologist Elizabeth Spelke of Harvard University, Pascaline Dupas of Stanford University, and Esther Duflo of MIT (a recipient of the 2019 Nobel Prize for Economics), this research presents a unique opportunity to combine current measures of child development with over ten years of data from earlier trials. This award will generate evidence to inform policymakers about the intergenerational returns to universal access to secondary education, and potentially benefit 6 million secondary school students in the first five years.


October 2020

Using Biotech to Increase Yields in Areas Facing Environmental Stresses

Climate change-induced environmental stresses––including drought, extreme temperatures, and soil salinization––threaten food security all over the world, with developing countries expected to be the most significantly impacted. Smallholder farmers are particularly vulnerable, including nearly 120 million subsistence farmers in India who live on less than $2 per day. To improve crop resilience and yields under these stressful conditions, Washington state-based biotech company Adaptive Symbiotic Technologies (AST) developed BioEnsure, a low-cost fungus-based seed treatment that increases the ability of plants to access water and nutrients in the soil. Unlike many products meant to improve agricultural productivity, BioEnsure requires almost no behavior change by farmers, making it an easily adoptable solution that can be applied to both new seeds and seeds from previously harvested plants. In a USAID-supported pilot program, smallholder farmers in India increased their yields by over 50 percent on average. With support from Development Innovation Ventures (DIV), AST is conducting peer reviewed trials and exploring new sales and distribution strategies, business models, and pricing structures to demonstrate a commercial pathway to scale that expects to reach over 100,000 smallholder farmers in India over three years. DIV support aims to de-risk future investment in AST’s Indian operations and attract private capital, while helping smallholder farmers in Rajasthan access this innovative technology. .


October 2020

Testing Techniques to Improve Science and Math Skills in Haryana

India has approximately 351 million youth under age 14 enrolled in school (World Bank, ASER), but international testing shows that India is ranked second-to-last among 73 participating countries. Lack of basic math and science skills can prevent many of India’s youth from realizing their full potential, resulting in lost opportunities and lower wages as adults. To help improve learning outcomes for students in grades 9 and 10 in the Indian state of Haryana, the NGO Avanti Fellows designed Project Sankalp, a low-cost, blended learning innovation that combines a structured curriculum, peer learning, teacher support, and video instruction. With support from Development Innovation Ventures and in partnership with the Government of Haryana, J-PAL, and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, Avanti Fellows is conducting a randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of two versions of the program in public schools (with and without information and communication technology) against a control group using traditional classroom curriculums. Early studies show that Sankalp improves outcomes at a lower cost than comparable top education interventions. Over three years, Avanti Fellows will expand to 240 schools with 36,000 students enrolled in grades 9 and 10. If results are sustained, there will be a strong case for increased interest and scaling support from several Indian state governments.


October 2020

Using Predictive Analytics to Improve Care

India deploys over two million frontline health workers throughout the country to provide maternal and child health services through home visits, antenatal care, and nutrition programs. Despite these and other significant efforts, India has more neonatal mortalities than any other country and an estimated 44,000 women die each year due to preventable pregnancy-related causes. One way to improve outcomes is by arming frontline workers with digital tools that improve the efficacy of their work. Dimagi’s open source CommCare platform has been used to equip over 750,000 frontline workers with mobile apps in over 80 countries. Strong evidence, including several randomized controlled trials, demonstrates that equipping frontline workers with CommCare improves client outcomes such as maternal mortality, low birth weight, and malnutrition in the first 1,000 days after birth. With support from Development Innovation Ventures, Dimagi will build and test predictive analytics using the vast amounts of government-owned data captured by its platform and leverage recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) to predict future events. Dimagi will apply predictive analytics to help existing frontline workers and their supervisors proactively identify and prioritize high risk clients, increase diagnosis accuracy, detect outbreaks, and improve healthcare delivery to remote areas. At scale, the AI techniques developed through this project will run at pennies per person. Dimagi and its partners at IDInsight will design an evaluation and obtain necessary permissions to test these techniques at scale. Through the power of predictive analytics, this work has the potential to directly benefit 27 million people over the next five years, not only in health, but also agriculture, education, and other sectors around the world.


October 2020

Alleviating Loneliness Among Migrant Garment Workers in India

More than 30 percent of India’s population are internal economic migrants who move from rural to urban areas for work, but lose important support networks when away from their homes. This separation may cause feelings of loneliness and social isolation among India’s millions of young migrants, and affect their health and ability to earn an income. Evidence suggests that social isolation and loneliness can have sweeping negative consequences ranging from a reduced sense of well-being and happiness to impairments in cognitive function, physical health, and even mortality. Workplace programs that address workers’ mental health may help to increase worker satisfaction, retention, and productivity, benefitting both the workers and the companies that employ them, but evidence is scarce. Given the link between mental and physical health, this study will further explore impacts on reduced absenteeism due to illness. With support from Development Innovation Ventures, Good Business Lab Foundation is building off prior pilots to conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of a low-cost mental health intervention that pairs 1,000 female junior factory workers with female senior workers across six factories owned by partner Shahi Exports, India’s largest exporter of ready-made garments. The RCT includes a control group and two intervention groups: one where partners meet a couple times a week to provide general social support and another where senior workers receive specialized training to help junior partners develop strategies to cope with isolation and loneliness. If effective, the intervention has the potential to improve the lives of Shahi’s 150,000 workers in India and Shahi will disseminate the results to its suppliers, partners, other companies, and other organizations working with India’s 120 million rural-to-urban migrant workers.


October 2020

Every Child Counts! Testing and Positioning a Successful Games-Based Pre-School Math Curriculum for Scale

Despite significant gains in primary school enrollment, 125 million children worldwide are not developing basic math and reading skills. Many children in India are not ready for primary school: 43 percent of first graders in rural areas cannot recognize letters and 36 percent cannot recognize single-digit numbers (ASER 2018). Evidence shows that achievement gaps between low and high-performing children widen steadily over time, and few children who start behind ever catch up. To help prepare young children for success in primary school, MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at the Institute for Financial Management and Research in India (IFMR) (J-PAL South Asia) has applied decades of research on how children learn in order to develop a collection of simple, low-cost games that engage children’s natural math capacity to improve their formal math skills. Proven effective by multiple randomized controlled trials, the Math Games program requires only 45-minute sessions, three times per week and can be effectively delivered by lightly-trained volunteers or government teachers. With support from Development Innovation Ventures (DIV), J-PAL South Asia is providing technical assistance and monitoring and evaluation support to expand the program in Tamil Nadu’s public school system and partnering with state governments and the Indian NGO Pratham to expand Math Games to three more states (Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, and Punjab). In addition, DIV is supporting a long-term follow-up study––led by cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Spelke of Harvard University and Nobel Prize-winning economist Esther Duflo of MIT––that measures the persistence of the program’s impact on the children from the original study. As Math Games continues to scale, it has the potential to significantly improve the foundational skills of 2.8 million children across these four states.


October 2020

Microequity for Microentrepreneurs in India

Nearly 98 percent of businesses in India are microenterprises that are susceptible to income shocks and lack access to capital. These conditions challenge their growth and profitability, particularly for women entrepreneurs. While many microenterprises have access to microcredit, these loans come with rigid repayment schedules that may deter entrepreneurs from larger, higher-risk and return investments. With support from Development Innovation Ventures, the University of Oxford and partners Buzz Women and Yunus Social Business are testing the effectiveness of microequity contracts with women microentrepreneurs. The microequity contract structure is more flexible than traditional microcredit, with payments that are contingent upon the microenterprise’s revenue and a three-year term. Working with tailoring and animal husbandry entrepreneurs, the project will explore how performance-contingent repayment terms affect demand for microequity and how microequity affects microenterprise growth. Researchers are offering half of the participating entrepreneurs an investment of approximately $1,400 in the form of assets and inventories that the entrepreneur chooses, with the other half serving as a comparison group. The tailoring and animal husbandry sectors allow production to be monitored, which is key to enforcing a microequity contract. If successful, microequity financing has the potential to be an impactful offering for many of the 10 million microentrepreneurs in India.


October 2020

Testing Innovations that Address Maternal and Neonatal Outcomes in Kenyan Public Hospitals

Poor quality of care in health facilities accounts for 60 percent of global neonatal deaths and 50 percent of maternal deaths. In Kenya, Jacaranda Health has developed two tightly linked, low-cost solutions to address the two main drivers of poor maternal and newborn health outcomes in Kenya: delays in care seeking and quality of care. The solutions are: 1) PROMPTS, an artificial intelligence-enabled digital platform that Jacaranda deploys here to provide free text message-based support to expecting and new mothers in public facilities and encourages care-seeking behavior at key moments during and after pregnancy; and 2) MENTORS, a facility-based, clinical mentorship program that Jacaranda deploys here to improve and sustain provider skills in basic and emergency obstetric and newborn care. PROMPTS has reached over 180,000 women for less than $1 per mother and has been shown to change key behaviors linked with better outcomes. MENTORS is improving skills among over 1,500 frontline nurses in 71 government hospitals at 60 percent of the cost of alternative training programs. With support from Development Innovation Ventures (DIV), Jacaranda is conducting a large-scale, randomized controlled trial that evaluates the cost-effectiveness and impact of these integrated programs on key patient and provider outcomes. Jacaranda is also designing and deploying integrated data systems that inform real-time, data-driven decision-making at health facilities and among government policy makers. These programs are implemented in partnership with county hospitals and designed to become national health solutions that can be largely delivered through existing public resources. Over the next three years, PROMPTS and MENTORS are expected to improve the lives of 1.3 million mothers and babies.


October 2020

Can Dialogues Reduce Conflicts between Herders and Farmers? Evidence from Nigeria

In Nigeria, resource conflicts between herders and farmers caused the deaths of nearly 2,000 people and displaced 300,000 more in 2017 and 2018, while costing the economy $13 billion each year. When facing violence, farmers and herders lack incentives to invest in their livelihoods and therefore become less productive. This is a vicious circle where violence over scarce resources leads to poverty, adversely affecting the 18 million people who live in the region. Worsening climate change further exacerbates these tensions. International organizations have spent over $100 million on conflict resolution activities, but with little evidence of their effectiveness. Given a rare opportunity to use a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) to rigorously measure the effectiveness of mediation frameworks, Development Innovation Ventures is supporting Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) to expand and test a series of facilitated meetings (called inter-dialogues) among farmers and herders. The inter-dialogues––which are implemented by grant partner Search for Common Ground–– use a common mediation framework to address pressing problems for the farmers and the herders, and aim to positively influence conflict, cooperation, and economic production. The RCT compares whether working with trained conflict resolution mediators has a bigger or smaller impact on conflicts than other types of engagements, such as health education. And effective prevention of conflicts could be significantly cheaper than remedying the aftermath. This collaboration involves some of the largest NGOs working in this area, which increases the likelihood of scaling. In addition, results will be published and disseminated to inform future conflict resolution and media interventions around the globe.


October 2020

Mass-Market Electric Motorcycle Taxis

Motorcycle taxis (known as “motos” or “boda bodas”) are an essential and popular form of transportation in East Africa’s increasingly congested cities where an estimated 5 million bodas carry 100 million passengers a day, a distance equivalent to a round trip journey to the sun. All of these trips contribute to air pollution. Additionally, drivers face volatile and rising fuel prices that result in low profits and uncertainty. To increase driver income, Ampersand, a startup company in Rwanda, has designed, produced and is piloting a high-quality, battery-powered electric motorcycle or “e-moto”. Ampersand has also established a network of both grid- and solar-powered battery stations, enabling drivers to swap used batteries for charged ones for less than the cost of gas and return to the road in under two minutes. E-motos are a cost-effective solution that exceed the performance of traditional gasoline-powered motorcycles at the same price point, without the high fuel and maintenance costs. This change can increase drivers’ take home pay by more than 50 percent. With support from Development Innovation Ventures, Ampersand will grow and position its business for scale and commercial investment by improving its battery technology, software, logistics, and customer support capacity as it adds more charging stations and bikes to its fleet. Ampersand aims to scale within Rwanda and across East Africa’s $10 billion market over five years, which is also projected to reduce emissions by an estimated 151,200 tons.


October 2020

Impact of Pedestrian Footbridges on Rural Communities in Rwanda

During periods of seasonal flooding, isolated rural communities are often cut off from markets and other income-generating opportunities, as well as from health and education facilities. In Rwanda, the vast majority of lower income people live in rural areas with challenging, mountainous terrain. In a country where agriculture accounts for one third of overall GDP and 66 percent of total employment, a lack of reliable access to markets and jobs inhibits growth. To address this challenge, the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) and partner Bridges to Prosperity are building and evaluating footbridges that aim to eliminate rivers as barriers to road networks and critical destinations. Implementing footbridges costs a fraction of what it does to build and maintain vehicle bridges, and evidence shows they can reduce poverty and increase household income. With support from Development Innovation Ventures and Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, CU and their partners at Yale University, the University of Notre Dame, and expert staff in Rwanda are conducting a large-scale randomized controlled trial to evaluate the impacts of a nationwide footbridge-building campaign in Rwanda. The program is delivering 200 bridges to rural populations hampered by lack of access to markets, schools, and services. The study will evaluate impacts on wages, agricultural technology adoption, income, and food consumption, as well as health and educational outcomes in villages on both sides of the rivers. It will also measure changes in pregnancy and birth outcomes, spillover effects in villages farther from the bridge site, and the effects of shocks from flooding. Understanding this full range of impacts is critical for estimating the cost-effectiveness of footbridges. The study will inform both the Rwandan government and the development community at large as they consider whether and how to expand last-mile transportation infrastructure for remote populations.


October 2020

Testing an Information and Coordination Tool to Reduce Female Genital Cutting

Over 200 million women and girls have been subjected to female genital mutilation globally. Despite the known significant health risks, including organ damage, infertility and life-threatening complications during childbirth, over 3 million women and girls are still cut every year. Somalia has one of the highest rates of female genital mutilation in the world with over 98 percent of girls cut, most of them before they turn 15 years old. With support from Development Innovation Ventures, the Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi's Laboratory for Effective Anti-poverty Policies (LEAP) is conducting a randomized controlled trial to understand if long-term cultural norms can be changed by a simple, low cost approach to shifting behavior around cutting practices. Implemented in collaboration with Save the Children, the International Rescue Committee, and CARE International, the approach that is being tested consists of community meetings where anonymous polling and other activities show that many community members want female cutting to end and help opponents of the practice to identify allies. Rather than trying to convince people to change their minds, this low-cost and innovative approach focuses on safely revealing those whose opinions have already shifted but who have not yet changed their behavior. This research by Drs. Eliana La Ferrara and Selim Gulesci will expand the evidence base for programs that address female genital mutilation and will be widely disseminated to organizations that address the practice around the world and influence future generations.


October 2020

Seasonal hunger in Zambia: Better Smoothing Through Better Planning

Zambian farmers typically have abundant food after harvest, but they often struggle to make it last the entire year. Research shows that 80 percent of households run out of maize––a staple crop that families use both for food and as an alternative to cash––during the “hungry season,” the three months when food is scarce and calorie consumption drops. With support from Development Innovation Ventures (DIV), Drs. Supreet Kaur (UC Berkeley) and Kelsey Jack (UC Santa Barbara), affiliates at the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) are conducting a randomized controlled trial of up to 1,200 farming households to test the effectiveness of a low-cost behavioral approach to help subsistence farmers budget how they will use their maize stores to last until the next harvest. A prior pilot of this program found that farmers receiving this training increased their savings by 15 percent, which shows the potential of the training. With this grant from DIV, CEGA and its partner, Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) Zambia, will provide training and exercises that guide families to allocate their maize into expenditure categories––such as school fees, farm inputs, and emergencies––as well as physical labels to apply to bags of maize as a visual reminder of their plan. CEGA expects that families receiving the training will smooth out their maize consumption over the year so their supplies last longer, which can improve child nutrition and encourage greater farm productivity. If results are positive, this cost-effective, adaptable intervention has the potential to be scaled for hundreds of thousands of farmers across Zambia and in other countries.


August 12, 2020

Grillo Shakes Up Earthquake Early Warning Systems

In August, USAID's Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) posted a Medium blog about how DIV innovator Grillo developed a low-cost, open source earthquake early warning (EEW) system known as OpenEEW. Thanks to Grillo’s affordable system that enables schools and communities to install their own sensors, the children in Oaxaca can reach safety before the shaking reaches them. Read the full blog on Medium to learn more.


June 24, 2020

Six Innovators Pivoting to Face COVID-19

In June, USAID's Development Innovation Ventures posted an article to MarketLinks about how six DIV innovators have pivoted to face the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The six DIV innovators that have adjusted to address the virus are VisionSpring, SafeBoda, doctHERs, Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, Living Goods, and Every Shelter. Read the full article to learn more.


April 2020

DIV Releases New Annual Program Statement

On April 1, 2020, USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures released its new Annual Program Statement (APS). The APS provides information to prospective applicants about what DIV is looking to fund and how to prepare and submit a competitive application, including selection criteria.

DIV is USAID’s open innovation program that tests and scales creative solutions to any global development challenge. DIV provides staged funding based on an innovation’s demonstrated track record of and potential for achieving evidence of impact, cost-effectiveness, and viable pathways to scale.

Click here to learn more about DIV and determine if your innovation might be a good fit, browse the innovations in DIV’s portfolio; read the updated APS, FAQ, Tips for Applicants; and start working on the Sample Application in MS Word format before submitting the online application via our portal.

Note:
As of April 13, 2020, DIV’s updated application portal is live.


December 2019

USAID Announces $15.5 Million in Thirteen New Grants to Programs under the Development Innovation Ventures (DIV)

On December 16, 2019, USAID published a press release announcing the thirteen new DIV grants.


September 2019

DIV Funds VisionSpring's Clear Vision Workplace, a Program That Provides Vision Screenings and Eyeglasses for Workers

Around the world, 2.5 billion people do not have the eyeglasses they need to earn money, learn, drive safely, and participate in civic life. Uncorrected blurry vision costs the global economy more than $200 billion, with low-income individuals most affected by this loss. VisionSpring’s Clear Vision Workplace (CVW) program provides vision screenings and necessary eyeglasses for workers.

With over $1.8 million in USAID support, which includes funding from DIV, the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, and USAID/Bangladesh, and with corporate and philanthropic partners, VisionSpring will expand its CVW model across India, Bangladesh, and Vietnam. Building on the findings for 2018’s Productivity Study of Presbyopia Elimination in Rural-dwellers (PROSPER), the project includes two additional trials to further build the evidence base for expanding access to vision correction for workers globally.


September 2019

DIV Funds Innovations for Poverty Action's Finance and Commitment Mechanisms, Which Aim to Improve Agricultural Input Decisions

Many African farmers are not reaching their full potential of crop yields because they are not using appropriate agricultural inputs––such as seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides–– mostly due to the timing of the cost and lack of credit to purchase them when they are needed. Evidence suggests that farmers may be more likely to buy these agricultural inputs right after the harvest rather than at the beginning of planting season when they are commonly used. In Mali, Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) researchers are working with a large microfinance institution called Soro Yiriwaso and the country’s national network of agriculture input dealers to evaluate and understand farmers’ purchasing decisions.

With nearly $200,000 in support from DIV, the researchers will implement a randomized controlled trial to test and compare different approaches to facilitating increased use of agricultural inputs. Researchers will examine the results of a number of different purchasing options ranging from buying them without putting money down at the start of planting season to buying them at agricultural fairs just after harvest with a large down payment. This financial innovation has the potential to help increase profits for up to 23,000 farmers in nearly 8,000 households and encourage the agricultural input dealers to respond to early market organization opportunities.


September 2019

DIV Funds Global Development Incubator's Results-Based Financing to Help Scale Community Health Programs in Uganda

In the last decade, global interest in results-based financing (RBF) has rapidly picked up as funders seek to increase value for money and pay for results, rather than for activities and inputs. DIV is funding an RBF program where the Global Development Incubator (GDI), serving as the Trustee, has essentially created an “outcomes fund” to manage the payments awarded for achieving results in a community health worker model in Uganda that is implemented by Living Goods. GDI will only disburse funding to Living Goods based on the level of results achieved, and will facilitate relationships among partners, including Instiglio, who will support on design and project management, and Innovations for Poverty Action, who will conduct independent verification. The outcomes fund will create an easier platform for other funders to contribute and reduce transaction costs.

With strong requirements for matched funding, DIV’s support will be catalytic in bringing in other funders to support results-based community health programming. By focusing on results and allowing implementation flexibility, the RBF will incentivize innovation in programming and cost-effectiveness and will generate evidence for the use of new and sustainable financial models to accelerate development progress.


September 2019

DIV Funds the Institute of Financial Management and Research's Direct Benefit Transfers for Electricity

The State and National governments in India provide electricity subsidies to rural farmers to help defray the cost of pumping water for irrigation. However, these subsidies promote the inefficient use of resources, including overuse of electricity and groundwater, by removing the incentive to conserve them. The Institute of Financial Management and Research (IFMR) is working to address the negative effects of the subsidy program. With nearly $800,000 in DIV funding, IFMR is evaluating the effects of replacing these traditional subsidies with cash transfers. These direct benefit transfers allow farmers to choose how they use their benefit and incentivize them to conserve power and water that are no longer discounted.


September 2019

DIV Funds Innovations for Poverty Action's Testing of an Incentivized Teacher Transfer Scheme, Which Aims to Improve the Quality of Education

Despite education’s ability to drive economic growth and development, low education quality and low levels of educational attainment are widespread globally, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia due to low pay, poor facilities, and arbitrary location assignments that lead to high levels of teacher absenteeism. With DIV’s support, Innovations for Poverty Action is testing an incentivized teacher transfer scheme that would reward good performance with a more desirable job location. The study will track teacher and student attendance and performance over time in one district in Uganda and will impact 95,000 students over two years, helping determine whether incentivized transfer schemes are an effective way to improve the quality of education.


September 2019

DIV Funds the International Rescue Committee's Kernels of Practice, Which Aim to Improve Socio-Emotional and Academic Outcomes of Students

Children living in conflict-afflicted northeast Nigeria are exposed to repeated, extreme traumas that negatively affect their educational outcomes and brain development. One way to address this issue is through school-based social-emotional learning, which has been shown to be an important way to improve educational outcomes for children living in conflict-affected areas and who face a high number of risks.

With DIV’s support, the International Rescue Committee is implementing and scaling a suite of low-cost social-emotional learning interventions called “kernels of practice” that teachers integrate into classrooms to improve the social-emotional and academic outcomes of students. By integrating this practice into classrooms in conflict-affected areas, International Rescue Committee expects that educational outcomes will improve for millions of children in Nigeria and potentially in other conflict areas around the world.


August 2019

DIV Funds Maisha Med's Point-of-Sale Digital Platform, Which Strengthens Capabilities of Pharmacies and Clinics

Many pharmacies and clinics in East Africa struggle with inadequate supply chains and inventory management capacity. Systemic inefficiencies lead to stockouts and low quality or expired drugs at high price markups at the last mile, which often means that patients pay prices that are higher than developed markets for medicines that are often ineffective. For example, substandard or falsified antimalarials may lead to an estimated 116,000 additional deaths annually in Sub-Saharan Africa, costing patients and health providers $38.5 million.

Maisha Meds’ point-of-sale digital platform strengthens supply chain management capabilities of pharmacies and clinics. The tablet-based platform can be used online and offline, enabling last mile pharmacies and clinics to order drugs from high quality suppliers at a discount while generating supply chain data. It also enables the provision of targeted reimbursements and subsidies to patients and pharmacists, offering an opportunity to provide financial assistance to motivate proper medical diagnosis and treatment while lowering cost to patients. DIV’s support of nearly $1.5 million will enable Maisha to expand their platform across 700 additional pharmacies and clinics in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, as well as to conduct a randomized controlled trial on the platform’s use to deliver targeted reimbursements to motivate proper malaria diagnosis and treatment.


July 2019

DIV Funds Harvard University to Partner with the Government of Indonesia and Digitize Raskin and Other Social Protection Programs

The Government of Indonesia’s subsidized rice program, Raskin, or Rice for the Poor, provides a nutritional safety net for the country’s 15 million poorest households as Indonesia's largest targeted social protection program. However, the program was plagued by leakages throughout the supply chain––for every 100 kilos of rice that left the warehouse, fewer than 50 kilos reached people’s homes. USAID’s DIV awarded Harvard University a nearly $1.4 million grant to partner with the Government of Indonesia as it digitizes Raskin and four other social protection programs. Instead of a paper-based system, beneficiary households will receive debit cards linked to an account funded by the program. They can then use that debit card as payment at any registered retailer or agent that accepts them.

Harvard’s team will use a rigorous evaluation and analyze the costs and benefits of transitioning to a digital subsidy provision to inform the Government of Indonesia and other governments interested in digitizing their own social protection programs. Given that the government spends roughly $1.5 billion per year on these programs, if this welfare reform prevents only 25 percent of the leakages, it has the potential to save the Indonesian government $1.25 billion over five years that can be allocated to other social programs policymakers may wish to enlarge or expand.


July 2019

DIV Funds Business Management Investment's Net-Collect, a Digital Tax System That Will Move Côte d’Ivoire Toward Cashless Tax Collection

The ability of local governments to raise revenue is critical to the adequate delivery of essential public services such as infrastructure maintenance, waste management, law enforcement, and more, yet the local tax collection capacity in many developing countries remains challenging and can hinder economies from reaching their full potential. In response to this challenge, Business Management Investment (BMI), a local company, designed the Net-Collect digital tax system to help municipalities in Côte d’Ivoire move from the current cash and paper-based tax system to entirely cashless tax collection.

With over $1 million in funding provided by DIV, BMI will now launch the Net-Collect digital tax system in an additional 25 municipalities and will partner with researchers from Stanford University and Côte d’Ivoire’s Ministry of Economy and Finance to conduct a rigorous evaluation of the impact of the Net-Collect system on tax revenue and local government accountability. This system is expected to increase tax revenue and provide corresponding improvements in quality of life and public services in Côte d’Ivoire.


July 2019

DIV Funds Standard Microgrid's Development of a Microgrid Utility Franchise Business Model to Deliver Affordable Energy to Zambia

In Zambia, 97 percent of the rural population do not have access to electricity. Standard Microgrid has reimagined “power as a service” through its flexible, modular components and proprietary grid management tools that are fully contained in a 20 foot shipping container. The 13kW microgrid can be deployed in three days and has the capacity for up to 150 connections―delivering one of the lowest costs per connection in the industry. Standard Microgrid aims to transform and scale access to electricity by developing a microgrid utility franchise business model that enables construction engineering firms to build, operate, and service microgrids through standardized processes and to deliver quality, reliable, affordable energy to rural communities in Zambia.

With over $1 million in support from USAID, Standard Microgrid will finalize hardware and software enhancements to support the microgrid utility franchise business model, develop and implement the franchise strategy, and operationalize the franchise business through a third-party franchise pilot. Standard Microgrid aims to provide clean energy to over 10,000 connections by 2021 and many more through the microgrid utility franchise.

Read a press release on DIV's funding of Standard Microgrid here.


July 2019

DIV Funds Lively Mind's Low-Cost, Locally-Driven Approach to Early Childhood Development in Uganda

Nearly 250 million children under the age of five in low- and middle-income countries are at risk of not achieving their development potential. While there is limited access to quality early childhood development programs, especially in rural areas, studies suggest that interventions can significantly improve children's cognitive and emotional development. With over $1 million in support from DIV, Lively Minds is scaling its low-cost, locally-driven approach to early childhood development in Uganda to improve school-readiness outcomes for 39,000 children and over 9,000 mothers.

Lively Minds works through government systems to equip local government officials and village health team members to train and empower mothers in the community to run educational playgroups for children ages three to six and to adopt better parenting practices at home. The model enables children to attend these groups for free and provides training and parenting workshops for mothers while building local government capacity. Preliminary results from a randomized controlled trial evaluating Lively Minds’ work in Ghana show improved cognition, school readiness, and socio-emotional development for children, and improved parenting practices of mothers. Building on its success in Ghana and a pilot in Uganda, DIV’s support will allow Lively Minds to further refine its model and deepen its understanding of the potential for government uptake of the program in Uganda.


July 2019

DIV Funds J-Pal's Research on Microcredit Products to Increase Financial Access for Muslims and Other Debt-Averse Customers

Financial inclusion is lower in Muslim-majority countries than in non-Muslim majority countries due in part to perceptions that debt is prohibited under Islamic law. With support from DIV, J-PAL’s Middle East & North Africa (MENA) Initiative–headquartered at the American University in Cairo–is partnering with a large Egyptian microfinance institution to test whether low-income goat farmers prefer traditional microfinance loans or newer microequity arrangements under which both the farmers and the bank share profits. Researchers will also estimate the impact of the microequity product. This could provide important information for banks wishing to offer microequity products that are designed to increase financial access for Muslims who avoid conventional debt for religious reasons. Such products could also appeal to customers beyond the Muslim world who are simply debt averse. In addition, the study will help shed light on ongoing efforts to understand when microcredit products are contextually appropriate and when they are not.


May 2019

DIV Funds Duke University's Pocket Colposcope, a Device That Will Improve the Accessibility of Cervical Cancer Care

More than 85 percent of cervical cancers occur in women in low- and middle income countries. Early detection and treatment can prevent up to 80 percent of these cancers when it is affordable and accessible. With funding from DIV, Duke University is conducting an implementation study in Peru with a new screening, diagnosis, and treatment protocol that improves the accessibility and affordability of cervical cancer care.

This new protocol is centered around the Pocket Colposcope, a handheld microscope and imaging device for the cervix developed by biomedical researchers at Duke University and 3rd Stone Design. Traditional colposcopes are stationary devices that can cost tens of thousands of dollars. The Pocket Colposcope costs just $500 and enables more women to access care that will improve their chances at life.


January 28, 2019

Innovator Digest #8

Learn more about DIV and its innovators in the eighth and most recent DIV newsletter, released in January 2019.


January 24, 2018
Innovator Digest #7

Learn more about DIV and its innovators in the seventh DIV newsletter, released in January 2018.


November 21, 2017
Innovator Digest #6

Learn more about DIV and its innovators in the sixth DIV newsletter, released in November 2017.


July 27, 2017
Innovator Digest #5

Learn more about DIV and its innovators in the fifth DIV newsletter, released in July 2017.


May 24, 2017
Innovator Digest #4

Learn more about DIV and its innovators in the fourth DIV newsletter, released in May 2017.


March 28, 2017

Innovator Digest #3

Learn more about DIV and its innovators in the third DIV newsletter, released in March 2017.


February 3, 2017

Innovator Digest #2

Learn more about DIV and its innovators in the second DIV newsletter, released in February 2017.


November 16, 2016

Innovator Digest #1

Learn more about DIV and its innovators in the first DIV newsletter, released in November 2016.