February 2021
The London School of Economics received a DIV grant to test an evidence-based job skills development program for unemployed and underemployed young adults to help them build skills in high-demand trades in Bangladesh. Credit: LSE
Advancing Evidence-Based Foreign Aid
In December, the Center for Global Development (CGD) published a paper, writing that U.S. foreign assistance delivers results, but when the U.S. government understands how its programs achieve results and deliver value for money, it can direct funding toward programs that are proven effective. CGD’s paper, "Establishing USAID as a Leader in Evidence-Based Foreign Aid" recognizes that DIV identifies and tests new solutions to development problems, and helps scale those with strong evidence of impact and cost-effectiveness.

On the theme of investing in what works, France recently launched a new development innovation fund modeled after DIV, led by Dr. Esther Duflo, a Nobel-prize winning economist who received DIV funding for her use of randomized controlled trials of development interventions. Duflo shared the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics with DIV Co-founder and Scientific Director Dr. Michael Kremer and Dr. Abhijit Banerjee.

I’m not talking about technologies like cell phones and solar batteries, I’m talking about innovation in policy processes. If we find a way to teach kids better in school, there is a huge amount of benefit.-- Dr. Esther Duflo in Devex
Since 2010, DIV has received 10,500 applications and invested $149 million in grants to more than 225 innovations across 47 countries.

In 2020, DIV innovator SparkMeter concluded a nearly $1.5 million grant from DIV, which funded technology research and development and business development activities for their product, Advantage Meter Suite. Advantage Meter Suite is a novel electricity meter built to operate well in dense markets with high levels of regulatory scrutiny where multiple meters are required on a single pole and detailed remote management is critical to their success.

SparkMeter stated that DIV’s support helped it launch the new product line in early 2020, earn compliance certificates in Nigeria and Rwanda, close $12 million in Series A financing, and sign a distribution utility contract with State Nigeria Limited.

SparkMeter is a provider of grid management solutions tailored to emerging markets, where 3.5 billion people live without reliable electricity access. SparkMeter provides a low-cost, comprehensive metering solution for energy systems ranging from rural microgrids to urban central grids. Read Sparkmeter’s blog.
In October 2020, as part of DIV’s tenth anniversary celebration, Dr. Kremer joined four DIV awardees on the remote stage at SOCAP Virtual: A Global Impact Summit to share lessons learned from DIV over the past decade. Gaya Datari of Earth Enable, Jonathan Jackson of Dimagi, Devyani Pershad of Pratham, and Avnish Gungadurdoss of Instiglio spoke about their DIV experiences, highlighting how flexibility helped the innovators find the right business model for innovations and how outcomes-based funding drives effective solutions. Watch the recording.
In this article, Devex’s Catherine Cheney covers DIV’s tenth anniversary and live discussion at SOCAP Virtual. Read the article. (The article is free, but sign-in is required.)
Watch DIV's video about USAID's 2020 event titled, "A Conversation with 2019 Nobel Laureate Dr. Michael Kremer." Watch here.
DIV is accepting applications. Visit to learn more and apply!