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Development Innovation Ventures: Turning Bright Ideas into Global Solutions

As part of USAID’s innovation program, Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) is making a significant difference in the world of innovation for development. Through investing in global innovators who test new innovative solutions for development challenges, it implements venture capital and academia practices to maximize impact, while also minimizing risk.

DIV looks closely at the evidence of impact, cost effectiveness, potential for scale, and financial sustainability in order to strengthen the impact that innovation can play for improving the world's most vulnerable peoples' livelihoods. Based on the venture capital model, it uses gradual funding stages to allow risk taking at earlier stages, whilst minimizing it later on. To do so, it starts by giving funding for a pilot of up to $200,000, increasing the amount to test it for scale, and then up to $5 million to transition the proven approaches to scale. DIV has focused its funding towards development solutions that show clear evidence of their benefit, whilst being cost effective and scalable to improve the lives of millions of people.

In just 10 years, DIV has invested $149 million in innovative solutions around the globe, improving the lives of 55 million people. Its results show the DIV’s capacity to achieve greater results at a greater scale, for less than the conventional development models.

For instance, DIV partnered with an off-grid energy team to support Fenix Ready Pay Solar Home Systems expansion. Fenix offers expandable leases to solar home systems which are financed through affordable installments paid using mobile money. As a result of DIV’s investment, Fenix has emerged as a leading company in Zambia, and now delivers affordable energy to 2.5 million people. DIV has also supported CommCare, a Dimagi flagship product which operates as a case management platform. DIV invested in CommCare early on, allowing Dimagi to pilot and test the service in India. DIV has since supported the scaling of CommCare's and has enhanced its effectiveness through AI technology that allows frontline workers to identify problems at an earlier stage. Now, over 1 million frontline workers in 80 countries use CommCare to improve worker efficiency. DIV also funds the Village Enterprise’s Development Impact bond which works to transform the lives of 12,000 households in rural Kenya and Uganda through the creation of thousands of micro enterprises. It uses results-based financing to increase the impact of these global development programs.

The last decade for DIV has been extremely productive and relevant within the global international development landscape. As Jonathan Jackson, Dimagi's CEO commented, “DIV allowed us to take a bet on turning our innovation into a product, and our product into a business model.

DIV accepts applications year-round for innovations in every sector and country in which USAID operates. Submit your application here!

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