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


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.