The U.S. Global Development Lab serves as an innovation hub. We take smart risks to test new ideas and partner within the U.S. Agency for International Development and with other actors to harness to power of innovative tools and approaches that accelerate development impact.
July 27, 2017
Innovator Digest
Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) Application Window to Close Until Further Notice
On Friday, July 28, 2017, at 11:59 pm ETC, the U.S. Global Development Lab will temporarily close the application window of the Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) program - the Agency's tiered, evidence-based open innovation fund. Applications received by that time, in addition to applications already received and under review, will be reviewed and considered pending funding availability. This does not affect the status of most active DIV awards and awards that are currently being finalized. DIV will continue to actively manage its large and vibrant portfolio of nearly 90 grants.
Highlighted Announcements

Congratulations to recent winners of the DIV competition: Apollo Agriculture , Tulaa , Powerhive , and Sanivation for their work in Kenya and One Acre Fund for its expansion in Uganda and Malawi. Apollo uses satellite imaging and agronomic machine learning to deliver input loans and customized agronomic advice to smallholder farmers. Tulaa is a mobile money product that allows smallholder farmers to lay-away and borrow money for the purchase of quality inputs. PowerHive is a solar microgrid provider developing a Productive Use Program to provide its customers with low-cost appliance leases and business loans combined with enterprise development support. Sanivation provides clean, affordable sanitation services and byproducts to the urban and peri-urban poor. One Acre Fund - only the fifth DIV Stage 3 winner since DIV's founding in 2010 - delivers a bundle of agricultural services to nearly 500,000 smallholder farmers across East Africa to improve livelihoods and agricultural productivity.  Stay tuned for additional announcements of new winners between now and the end of September, as we finalize our awards!
USAID and partners want to celebrate innovations that are reaching scale. USAID is hoping to understand how many innovations in development around the world have impacted and improved more than 1 million lives, or are on their way to big numbers and big impact! USAID plans to host a convening of these amazing innovators to both draw attention to innovation that works, to socialize that innovation with other users, customers, and funders, and to ensure that we are collectively learning what we can about scaling impactful innovation! Help us find and identify these outstanding innovations by submitting your nominations here or complete it yourself. 
Recognition and Accolades
Biolite and Evaptainers have been named 2 of the 3 winners of the 2017 ASME Innovation Showcase. The Showcase is a global competition for hardware-led ventures. It focuses on the design & engineering journey of taking physical products to market with an emphasis on social innovation.
Azuri Technologies has been named a finalist in the cleantech category of the Cambridge Independent's inaugural Entrepreneurial Science and Technology Awards. Winners will be announced September 21 at Venturefest East. Azuri's mission is to bring reliable solar power to off-grid communities. Its latest product is a pay-as-you-go satellite TV system, which includes a 24-inch thin-screen LED TV with access to 54 TV channels as well as four powerful LED lights, the means to recharge a mobile phone and a rechargeable radio and torch.
  Shout Outs
The New York Times and PBS recently featured MiracleFeet for its work treating clubfoot, which affects about one child in 800 worldwide. MiracleFeet has developed a low-cost, user-friendly brace for clubfoot, which reduces the overall cost of treatment, increases compliance, and facilitates scaling of clubfoot programs in low-resource settings. Its high-quality, practical brace costs just $20. MiracleFeet also trains local health care workers to treat clubfoot, so that over time each country's own health system can take over diagnosis and treatment.
The Harvard Business Review featured DIV partners Swasth and Living Goods for their work in expanding the reach of primary healthcare in developing countries. Swasth is featured for its platform that holds electronic medical records for primary care and how it is used to help their patients along with other providers who pay to use the tool. Living Goods is highlighted for its work recruiting and training community health workers to provide basic curative and prevention services while also selling medical and other household products door to door.
Safeboda uses an app to connect trained, professional drivers with passengers looking for a safe, convenient ride in Kampala, Uganda. Nextbillion features lessons learned about building the app in Africa, including: understanding the users and their perception of technology; building the right infrastructure and team; and overcoming low access to capital. Though the implementation of this innovation has not been without its challenges, Safeboda has seen a 20% week-on-week ride growth and an average customer rating of 4.8 out of 5.
Simpa Networks has given India its first solar satellite television service. A renewable-based energy service, it will deliver entertainment to villages and businesses through a 'pay-as-you-go' payment plan. The service, "Simpa Magic TV", will include access to over 100 channels of news, movies, music, all for the same price as any normal, non-solar television. Nearly 350 customers in Uttar Pradesh are using this model.
Burn Manufacturing , which has sold 300,000 cookstoves to date, primarily in Nairobi, is now expanding throughout East Africa. Its units, which are sold in all 42 counties of Kenya, are a cost-effective, clean solution to the quest for efficient African cookstoves. The stove cuts the fuel demand by half, and there's payback in just a few months. In addition, they found that 70% of people asked knew about their system and 30% are planning to buy one, and in Kenya alone there are 50,000-100,000 per month sales of the old systems.
Innovation to Poverty Action conducts controlled studies of programs proposed to reduce poverty to understand the impacts before implementing it on a very large scale. One such study, conducted for the Ministry of Health in Zambia , was to find the best way to recruit community health workers, who would go house to house to provide basic health services. The goal was to find out the best way to recruit people: by providing career incentives. The community health workers that were recruited with the career incentives performed 29 percent more household visits and attended twice as many community meetings, and the number of women who gave birth at a health facility was 30 percent higher compared to at home.
Good World Solutions uses mobile technology to ask workers survey questions about labor rights, workplace benefits and community resources through an anonymous two-way communication channel between factory workers and supply chain leaders known as LaborLink. They authored this blog to discuss a new set of guidelines for technology-driven efforts to engage workers in global supply chains, the WEST Principles , which was introduced at the Innovation Forum in Washington, DC June 26, 2017.
Johathan Jackson, with his partner Vikram Sheel Kumar, founded Dimagi, a social enterprise providing open-source software to frontline healthcare workers in low-resource settings around the world. With Dimagi's product, CommCare, organizations can create custom mobile applications for field workers to collect medical information and track patient data over time. Today, CommCare is used on more than 500 projects in over 60 countries. Dimagi moved its headquarters to Cambridge, MA in 2012, becoming one of the first benefit corporations (for-profit corporate entities that focus on public good) in the state.
  Read This
DIV grantees Azuri Technologies and VisionSpring, which is also supported by IIA, shared key tips for scaling social enterprise into new markets. These tips were highlights from a recent webinar OnFrontiers hosted with Olivier Kayser, founder of the HYSTRA consulting firm, as the moderator. Tips provided included having a viable product, learn from experiences and be locally oriented.    
Take Advantage
Solve at MIT is a marketplace connecting innovators with resources to solve global challenges. Each year, Solve announces new challenges for which it seeks solutions. This year's challenges include: Youth, Skills, & the Workforce of the Future, Brain Health, Sustainable Urban Communities , and Women and Technology . Learn more here .  
Our partners and neighbors Grand Challenges Canada has launched a new funding opportunity: Stars in Global Health, Round 9, which is open for application until August 3, 2017. They are looking for products, services and implementation models that could transform how persistent challenges in maternal, newborn and child health are addressed in low- and middle-income countries. Apply here .
The Mobiles for Education Alliance (mEducation Alliance) will host the 7th Annual mEducation Alliance Symposium on October 5-6 to share ideas and launch new partnerships to advance the use of technology in the education field. You're invited to submit ideas for presentations. This year's Symposium theme, Future-Proofing Technology for Education in International Development, asks potential presenters to look backwards from the year 2020 and share specific information about the pathways they or other partners followed for gathering the evidence to scale and spread their successful ICT4E initiatives. The call for presentation proposals can be found here . If you have questions, email here .
The Community Solar Innovation Awards 2017 are for innovative eco-inclusive enterprises utilizingsolar energy systems or solar technology innovation to improve the lives of poor communities, and that aim to generate environmental, social and economic benefits at the local level. Awards are sponsored and supported by international law firm Hogan Lovells, there are ten Awards available to the successful winners. Judges will be looking for enterprises from developing countries (non-OECD & non-EU member states) which are locally-led and significantly help the lives of women and girls, particularly those which focus on gender equality or female empowerment. Apply here .
The Green Climate Fund is a new Private Sector Facility that is looking for project proposals by August in energy, transport, forests and land use, and city infrastructure. The international fund is looking for high impact projects and programs that mobilize private sector investment. The RFP says investments can come as equity, debt, grants or guarantees. If you're interested in applying or learning more, go here.
Applications are now open for clients in the CASE i3 Consulting Program (CASE i3CP).  Through CASE i3CP, client organizations engage a team of 4-6 MBA students to work on an impact investing question the client is currently addressing.  Each project selected receives an average of 400 person-hours from our carefully selected MBA students.  Organizations benefit from the passion, fresh perspective, and technical expertise our students bring to the CASE i3CP.  Apply to CASE i3 Consulting Program here.
Johnson & Johnson presents the GenH Challenge, a global social venture competition where you can design locally-tailored and globally-relevant solutions to enduring health challenges. The GenH Challenge is based on the notion that new thinking and new ways to apply everyday ideas can support those on the front lines of healthcare worldwide. Organizations, both for-profit and non-profit, in seed stage or early phase, from around the world can apply. To learn more about the application process, go here.
Apply Anytime
Open Road Alliance (ORA) is a private, philanthropic organization that provides fast and flexible contingency funding to non-profits and social enterprises. It makes one-time grants and loans to mid-implementation projects that encounter an unexpected external roadblock that requires a discrete injection of funds to solve the problem at hand. ORA can move from application to funding in just 3-6 weeks. ORA's core funding criteria are:
  • The project must be mid-implementation , meaning all of the funding had been raised and then the roadblock occurred
  • It must be unexpected - it cannot be an internal error but something external to the organization that has created the additional funding need
  • The problem must have a discrete , one-time funding solution that is not recurring
  • The organization's model must have the potential to be system-changing, either in design or scale, creating catalytic impact
ORA is open to any sector and geography. If you think your organization is facing a situation that may fit these criteria, reach out to ORA Portfolio Manager, Caroline Bressan, copying your DIV AOR.

UNICEF's Innovation Fund provides equity-free seed funding for start-ups in developing and emerging markets, that are developing open source solutions in frontier technology areas. It seeks open-source projects that have already been started and are showing some positive indicators but need funding to attract additional investment and funding by generating real data. The investment comes with support from UNICEF's Venture team and partners, providing mentoring on product development, creation of open source communities, profitable business strategy, and a network of funders and partnerships for scale. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis here. Check out the website or this info note for more details. 
The PeaceTech Accelerator is the first cloud innovation centre and scale-up program devoted to peace technology, launched by C5 Accelerate and PeaceTech Lab, with support from Amazon Web Services. The Accelerator runs eight-week programs of intensive mentorship and training to help for-profit and non-profit start-ups to scale up, with a focus on the use of cloud capabilities. The program culminates in a pitch day to potential investors. It is looking for start-ups that are designing, developing and using new and innovative technologies to help end violent conflict and promote sustainable peace. For more information, or to apply, go here.
The 11 Heads of Government and State and Special Adviser who make up the UN/World Bank  High Level Panel on Water (HLPW) launched this Challenge to improve access to information that is so crucial to ensuring that farmers thrive - especially in lower-income settings - and water resources are managed well. The Call for Innovations began on World Water Day (March 22, 2017) and has a rolling application process. The first awards will be announced in July 2017. Learn how to apply here. If you need help applying, email here with "Water Data Challenge" in the subject line.  
Gray Matters Capital coLABS is taking very early stage bets on the most promising entrepreneurial ideas with the potential to demonstrably improve the lives of women and/or girls. It is looking for innovations that are self-sustaining, innovative and disruptive, investment-ready, ready to pilot and rapidly prototype, and committed to scaling. It provides investment capital of USD 10,000-100,000, non-funding advisory support, and usually takes an advisory or board seat for up to 3 years. Pitch your idea here.  
Similar to DIV, the Global Innovation Fund, which USAID helped launch, invests in evidence-based social innovations that aim to improve the lives and opportunities of millions of people in the developing world. Through grants, equity investments, and debt, it supports breakthrough solutions with strong potential for social impact at a large scale. Financial support ranges from USD 50,000 to 15 million. GIF accepts applications on a rolling basis. Several DIV portfolio organizations, such as SafeBoda, DMI, and Simpa Networks, are also part of the GIF portfolio.  
The DRK Foundation is accepting applications from social enterprises that are between 1-3 years old, with scalable business models that work to affect policy, public opinion, and economies. DRK portfolio organizations receive USD 300,000. Applications are accepted year-round. Several DIV portfolio organizations, including Living Goods, Muso, and myAgro, are also part of the DRK portfolio.
Other Helpful Resources
Access FREE Investment Advisory Support
Oltac Unsal  recently joined the Global Development Lab as an "Investor in Residence" to help Lab-supported innovators, including DIV portfolio organizations, with their funding efforts. Oltac is a venture capitalist with over 50 investments, a Silicon Valley veteran entrepreneur, and led early-stage financing efforts of the World Bank. Get in touch with him , and copy your DIV Grant Manager/AOR, for an investment readiness assessment to see if he can help you with your financing objectives.
Tap Our Expert Network Resources for FREE!
Are you in need of market research, identification of potential partners, support on customer research, or legal advice? We've contracted two expert networks, OnFrontiers and Atheneum Partners , to provide DIV and our portfolio organizations FREE access to experts in every sector and country. The options are endless. To tap the networks at no cost to you, email your AOR with a few sentences about the type of support you're looking for and why, and they'll get back to you with next steps.
DIV portfolio organizations can access Digital Globe and Planet Lab imagery through the GeoCenter at USAID's Global Development Lab. To obtain imagery, submit a request through its portal. You will need to sign a user agreement, submit a request form, and send an email confirmation. If you are specifically seeking Planet Lab imagery, indicate this in the request form. If you have any questions, email your DIV Grant Manager/AOR and be sure to copy him/her on your confirmation email to the GeoCenter.
Communications Resources
In the digital era, the shape and delivery of stories has shifted dramatically. Long-form narrative and conventional journalism now share the stage with messages of 140 characters or fewer and images that disappear seconds after they are opened. While there have never been more ways to reach audiences, it has also never been more difficult to  really reach them.
The Rockefeller Foundation recognizes a big opportunity in this intersection of story and technology, and has launched a project to consider the role that digital technology can play in elevating the practice of storytelling as a means to improve the well-being of the poor and vulnerable around the world.
Get Engaged
  • If you're planning on attending ANDE Annual Event, GES 2017, or any other major events this upcoming year, give us a heads up.
  • Current DIV portfolio organizations: Renew your registration! Did you know that your registration has to be resubmitted annually or else it expires? If your registration expires, you will not be able to receive your milestone disbursements. Please check your status and ensure that you leave enough time (a few weeks is recommended) to complete all the renewal steps on to ensure you are continually compliant. Any questions on this can be directed to your AOR. Note, there are several companies that will offer to do this registration for you for a fee, but you can do it yourselves for free.
  • Take ownership of your innovation profile on DIV's online engagement community - - and keep it updated. To do so, you must first create an account on the Global Innovation Exchange(which powers the DIV online community). Remember to tag to your organization and list DIV as a "related program" when you create your account.
  • Help us help you promote your work and the impact you're having! Send us communications materials (photos, awards, achievements, newsletters, testimonials from customers and others impacted by your work, etc.) and we will be sure to spread the word through media engagement and social media!
Thank You