We’re excited to release GDI’s 2017 annual report, which gives a behind-the-scenes look at how we build startups and partnerships to address some of the world’s toughest global development challenges.
- Deep dives on how we’ve collaborated with partners to build the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, Emerging Public Leaders, the Partnership for Economic Inclusion, and other initiatives
- A “Where are they now?” look at exited initiatives Convergence, Co-Impact, and HealthEnabled
- Lessons from both can’t-believe-it-successes and downright failures of 2017
How does GDI design and build social impact startups?
It’s a question we get a lot, so we’ve tried to answer it in a new GDI case study on ISF Advisors (formerly the Initiative for Smallholder Finance).
Starting with a Dalberg state of the sector market sizing report, GDI convened and facilitated a range of partners to design, build, and launch ISF in 2013. ISF initially launched as a research and facilitation platform to close the smallholder farmer finance gap but after two years, the platform pivoted to become an intermediary and advisory group helping to structure rural finance investments and partnerships.
GDI made ISF’s transition from a research platform to an advisory firm possible by helping ISF bring in approximately USD 6 million in flexible funding, providing strategic support, and building out ISF’s core staff of 10+ experienced hires. Today, ISF remains in GDI’s portfolio but continues to discuss exit opportunities as they arise.
To learn more about our partners along the way and understand what we’ve learned from both successes and challenges in building ISF, read the full case study here >
Want to learn more about how GDI builds initiatives? Check out our case study on Convergence.
In Collaboration with GDI, Village Enterprise Closes Investment for First Development Impact Bond for Poverty Alleviation in Sub-Saharan Africa
In collaboration with GDI, Village Enterprise has announced the completion of its first round of funding for its Development Impact Bond (DIB), resulting in $3.5 million in capital raised. The DIB will fund Village Enterprise’s poverty alleviation efforts in sub-Saharan Africa. With the DIB’s funding, Village Enterprise will “provide first-time entrepreneurs who live in extreme poverty with seed capital, training and mentoring to start more than 4,600 small sustainable businesses in rural Kenya and Uganda by 2020.”
The Village Enterprise DIB ties funding to impact results that are pre-agreed upon and subsequently verified. Avnish Gungadurdoss, Managing Partner of Instiglio and one of the partners in building the DIB, noted, “This DIB, which pays Village Enterprise for improvements in income levels of extreme poor households, is remarkable because of the ambitious outcomes it incentivizes. By tying funds to such ambitious outcomes and providing full flexibility for Village Enterprise to innovate on its program design and delivery practices, this DIB aims to enable a leap in the program’s cost-effectiveness.”
The DIB model isn’t new, but at GDI, we’re excited to be piloting a new twist on it by adding a “trustee” role to the Village Enterprise DIB, which could ultimately lower the costs and structural complexity that often plague DIBs and limit participation. As Trustee, GDI serves as the central “clearinghouse,” holding all cash inflows from outcome payers in escrow until we disburse funds to service providers, once payments are verified. GDI also contracts individually with all parties involved, minimizing the challenge of connecting organizations of different sizes and capabilities.
The longer-term goal of incorporating this role is to scale a poverty alleviation outcomes fund to increase the pool of capital available for poverty reduction and job creation programs while ensuring that measurable results are achieved. According to Alice Gugelev, who has led GDI’s work on this DIB, “Efforts are underway to scale the outcomes fund in order to address existing challenges with impact bonds such as high processing costs and complex documentation. In the scale-up, the outcomes fund plans to engage additional high caliber service providers like Village Enterprise and increase impact through this innovative and efficient mechanism.”
Learn more about this work on Village Enterprise’s website.
Emerging Public Leaders (EPL), a GDI-incubated initiative, has named President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (the former Liberian head of state) as Co-Chair, positioning Emerging Public Leaders as an influential driver of youth leadership in Africa. Through a two-year, highly competitive fellowship, Emerging Public Leaders is preparing the next generation of competent and ethical public-sector leaders in Africa. GDI is incredibly excited to celebrate this major milestone with Emerging Public Leaders as it continues working towards the “tipping point” for good governance in Africa.
President Sirleaf served as the president of Liberia from 2006 to 2018, becoming the first elected female head of state in Africa. She said of Emerging Public Leaders, “I am delighted to join an organization at the forefront of professionalizing Africa’s civil service. I know firsthand how critical a strong civil service is for any country hoping to drive towards good governance and democracy, deliver quality services to its people, and spur economic and inclusive growth – especially for women – and look forward to helping Emerging Public Leaders expand its partnerships and footprint across Africa to achieve that mission.”
Emerging Public Leaders expands and adapts the model of the President’s Young Professional Program in Liberia, which receives operational and advisory support from GDI. During the past decade, this program has recruited and supported over 140 public service fellows in Liberia; the vast majority of whom continue to work as professionals in Liberia’s civil service. With Liberia’s success and innovation, Emerging Public Leaders has recently expanded its public service fellowship to Ghana and intends to grow a pan-African network of 500 public sector leaders by 2022. President Sirleaf will play a crucial role in the program’s efforts to professionalize leadership in Africa’s civil service, encouraging other partners and governments to join the effort as the organization continues to expand to other African countries.
Read the full press release here.
You’ve probably experienced it before: After months of conducting interviews, research, and analysis for a landmark report, only a small group of people actually read the final product you publish. This situation is not only dispiriting, but also presents a serious impact challenge to many of us working in the global development space. Funders and organizations may spend millions of dollars each year on research that never makes it into the hands of those have the power to drive change on the ground.
But, there is a way to bridge the gap between publishing research and changing behavior.
In a new article published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, “If a Report Is Published and No One Reads It, Did It Really Happen?”, GDI’s Malia Bachesta Eley lays out four key tips for ensuring that important research is read and put to use in solving global development challenges:
- People want less talk and more action.
- Shorter is always better.
- Know your audience and tailor the content accordingly.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel.
Throughout the article, Malia draws insights from the experience of one GDI initiative – the Rural and Agricultural Finance Learning Lab (RAFLL) – but shows how we can all be champions for intentional, strategic communications to drive greater impact across sectors.
Emerging Public Leaders (EPL), a GDI initiative, announced its first class of fellows in Ghana. The class includes 21 of Ghana’s brightest young leaders, chosen through a competitive process of more than 400 applicants. As part of EPL, these new fellows will be placed in two-year positions within Ghana’s civil service, where they will use their talents to enrich the country’s government and achieve social impact. They will also have access to a broad range of support, including mentoring, professional development, and EPL’s alumni network.
Building from the successful model of the President’s Young Professionals Program of Liberia, EPL is committed to driving development in Africa through a stronger civil service. EPL’s expansion into Ghana is a core part of its strategy towards achieving its goal of building a pan-African network of 500 young leaders in public service by 2021.
Press Release: Global Digital Health Index launches alongside World Health Assembly
Index to track, monitor, and evaluate the use of digital technology for health across countries
May 22, 2018 – Geneva, Switzerland – A global group of leaders at the World Health Assembly today launched the Global Digital Health Index (GDHI), an interactive digital resource that tracks, monitors, and evaluates the use of digital technology for health across countries. The GDHI will empower health ministries, funders, policy makers, and industry players to make informed strategic decisions as they build sustainable digital health solutions at scale.
“To achieve universal health coverage over the next decade, coherent use of digital health will be key. The Index will be a valuable tool at national level to know where to focus efforts, and to allow comparison with other countries that have faced similar challenges,” said Dr. Peter Benjamin, Co-Founder at HealthEnabled, a digital health nonprofit that co-facilitates the GDHI with the Global Development Incubator (GDI), an organization that builds social impact startups and partnerships.
Technologies such as mobile phones, tablets, remote patient monitoring devices, and sensors have the potential to save lives, extend the reach of healthcare services, and reduce healthcare costs – yet many countries face persistent challenges in integrating these technologies into their health systems at scale. By benchmarking countries against standardized digital health criteria, the GDHI will allow them to track progress and identify weaknesses within their digital health initiatives so they can mature their digital health policy and practice over time. The GDHI will motivate improvements in national digital health systems and more targeted investments globally, ultimately using digital health to accelerate and monitor the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 3, “Ensure healthy lives and wellbeing for all at all ages.”
“Digital technologies have reached a level of maturity wher, if properly deploye, hey can transform healthcare nd build sustainable digital health systems as a common good for al,” said Dr. Vajira H. W. Dissanayake, President of the Commonwealth Medical Association and Chairman of the Commonwealth Centre for Digital Health. “s the Commonwealth Centre for Digital Health collaborates closely with countries to help them strengthen their health systems through the deployment of digital technologies, the Global Digital Health Index will be an invaluable tool to help us identify countries’ needs and provide support to address them.”
The GDHI steering committee includes a broad range of government, private sector, academic, NGO, and other top institutions and individuals in digital health. The group includes representatives from the Ministries of Health of India, Mali, and Thailand, as well as from Royal Philips, Commonwealth Medical Association, PATH, Asia e-Health Network, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, World Health Organization, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), Johnson & Johnson, the International Development and Research Centre (IDRC), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Joanne Peter, Health Tech Lead for Global Community Impact at Johnson & Johnson, noted, “Johnson & Johnson is proud to be an early supporter of the Global Digital Health Index, a tool to help countries around the world move towards mature digital health systems that are more efficient, more responsive to data and trends, and more patient-centered. We believe that digital technologies are an essential enabler as we work collectively to change the trajectory of health for humanity.”
The GDHI’s development began in 2016, when HealthEnabled and GDI partnered with Dalberg’s Design Impact Group (DIG), ThoughtWorks, and representatives from 20+ countries and 50+ international agencies to ideate on a tool that could help countries benchmark and monitor their investments in digital health over time. Using the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Telecommunications Union (ITU) eHealth Strategy Toolkit, the GDHI took shape. Since its beginning, the GDHI has received financial support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, Royal Philips, and HIMSS.
“By measuring the impact of digital tools and technologies, we can help increase levels of understanding, collaboration and adoption of value based care strategies,” said Jan Kimpen, Chief Medical Officer at Royal Philips. “This means working towards better healthcare experience and outcomes, achieved at lower cost. Royal Philips launched its Future Health Index three years ago to help benchmark and evaluate the impact of connected care, and we welcome the launch of the Global Digital Health Index as a complementary platform to support more patient centric and sustainable global healthcare.”
The GDHI version one that launched today includes data from 10 countries including Bangladesh, Benin, Jordan, Malaysia, Mali, Mongolia, New Zealand, Nigeria, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. Dr. Ousmane Ly, CEO of the National Agency for Telehealth and Medical Informatics of Mali, commented: “The Index is a fantastic opportunity for countries to assess the progress made and understand what steps they must take to ensure digital health provides all citizens with quality care. Mali will use the Index as a permanent monitoring tool for its national digital health program.”
Dr. Robyn Whittaker, Associate Professor University of Auckland & Clinical Director Innovation Waitemata District Health Board, participated in the initial workshop to design the Index. She commented, “The Index comes at a great time for New Zealand, as the Ministry of Health has been working on our digital health strategy. While New Zealand has been doing really well on some fronts, the Index helps us to take a comprehensive look across the range of indicators and identify areas where we might be falling behind, in addition to helping us measure our overall progress.”
Countries looking to learn more about their digital health maturity, how it compares to other countries, and how they can improve it are encouraged to reach out to email@example.com to contribute data.
Media contact: For media inquiries, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
About HealthEnabled: HealthEnabled is an Africa-based organization that helps governments integrate proven life-saving digital health interventions into their health systems. Learn more at www.healthenabled.org.
About the Global Development Incubator (GDI): GDI is an organization that builds startups, incubates partnerships, and strengthens existing organizations for social impact around the world. Learn more at www.globaldevincubator.org.
GDI is excited to kick off a collaboration with FHI Ventures, which launched today as a social enterprise accelerator supporting early stage businesses with the potential for high impact and a commitment to delivering social and financial returns.
A pair of eyeglasses can change a life – without good vision, children can’t learn, and adults are excluded from a world of economic opportunity.
That’s the central idea behind the EYElliance, a multi-sector coalition increasing global access to eyeglasses at scale, that the New York Times featured on its front page today.The article, titled “A Simple Way to Improve a Billion Lives: Eyeglasses” highlights global efforts underway to address untreated vision problems, which cost the global economy $200 billion annually to lost productivity, according to the W.H.O.
GDI is proud to have incubated the EYElliance in its early stages, from shaping its first strategic plan together with partners from VisionSpring and developing its brand with Emergence Creative, to building a business plan and eventually transitioning the initiative in 2016 a new home at the Tides Center. We’re thrilled to see the progress the EYElliance has made in the past two years to identify proven models and integrate them into existing systems that can expand glasses access for all, and we hope this story opens new doors for the initiative as it continues to drive coordinated action!
GDI-incubated Collaborative for Frontier Finance (formerly for the Collaborative for Early Stage Finance) hosted two workshops at Sankalp Forum 2018: 1) idefining asset classes for early stage finance; and, 2) capital advisory models and opportunities to improve their sustainability. These workshops were two in a series of meetings the Collaborative is hosting to uncover pain points that hinder progress in early stage finance and design solutions to overcome them.
This workshop was run in collaboration with Intellecap and funded by Collaborative for Frontier Finance anchor partner, infoDev at the World Bank. GDI is leading the design and incubation of the Collaborative, a new initiative that aims to catalyze $5B in appropriate capital for early stage and moderate growth enterprises
To read more about these workshops, take a look at the Post-Event Report from Sankalp.
- How to fully integrate the SDGs into business operations and communications
- How to decide which integration method is most appropriate to a given business
- How a business can bring senior management, employees, investors and suppliers into the SDG integration process
5 Minutes with a Social Agitator – Sarika Bansal of BRIGHT Magazine on igniting productively uncomfortable conversations
In this installment of 5 Minutes with a Social Agitator, we talked to Sarika Bansal, the editor-in-chief of BRIGHT Magazine (formerly the Development Set) and founder of Honeyguide Media. Here, Sarika discusses the role of compelling, nuanced storytelling in shaping how we think about and solve global development challenges.
In a nutshell, what big global problem are you trying to solve, and how?
My goal is to help people see each other as human beings, through journalism. I came into journalism in a slightly untraditional way;I had previously worked as a consultant for McKinsey and in microfinance. I transitioned to writing because I grew to understand that before we can solve big development challenges – whether it’s global health or gender equality – we need people to see each other as human beings. Storytelling has a huge role in changing that. I came into journalism determined to present each person with as much dignity as I could – and that still drives what I do.
At BRIGHT Magazine we are trying to publish stories that are about social issues in a way that isn’t dull, is more vibrant, and involves more voices than traditional journalism.
What are some key elements of each Bright Magazine story that help you do that?
We have five storytelling principles, and each story we publish usually hits two to three of them:
- Experimenting in storytelling format – We’re trying to be creative in publishing with things like comics, short stories, and photo essays.
- Keeping our stories jargon-free and approachable.
- Staying solutions-oriented when it’s possible – That means we’re not shying away from the potential solutions, and also not just presenting the global south as a place of war and destruction.
- Making people uncomfortable – We try to have conversations that are deliberately provocative, but that will also make people smarter.
- Showcasing a diversity of storytellers – we mean this in every sense of diversity.
If you could get two groups that don’t usually collaborate to work together in some way to help solve a global challenge, what would that look like?
In the U.S. the hyper-partisan news has in part destroyed people’s empathetic muscles. When BRIGHT Magazine did our refugee issue, some of the comments we received were…so bad. We were trying to reach an audience that wouldn’t necessarily be generous towards refugees, but it didn’t work. Sadly, I have become more cynical over time about how possible it is to evoke empathy.
There is still more work to be done among the hyper-privileged who say they support certain things, but don’t actually change their lifestyles to act upon it. With that in mind, I would bring a group like those that went to Davos, the “limousine liberals” – people who say things such as “black lives matter” but never actually do anything – together with, say, young student debaters. The students would ask the adults why they say the right things but haven’t effected change, and haven’t changed their lifestyles to fit their supposed social values. I would love to have some popcorn and watch how the conversation plays out.
Tell us a story of a time something went massively wrong with your work, and how you rebounded.
For our refugee issue, we did a story about how Christians in the U.S. are fighting the refugee ban. We tried to bring the story to Christian groups as part of our engagement strategy and it didn’t catch fire. It showed we weren’t ready to be a part of that conversation, and that we weren’t the right people to present it.
We didn’t have authentic relationships with people in those communities and that showed. I was hoping it would result in responses on Christian blogs and dialogue with Christian churches. We did a good job of outreach, but it was just too far outside of our comfort zone. We are now trying to understand our existing audience better and cover topics relevant to them – but that will also stretch them.
What advice do you have for other “social agitators” driving urgent global change?
One thing I’ve learned over the past few months is how important it is to build a team and internal culture that aligns with your social values. That is the only way to make transformational change. I don’t like the myth of the Silicon Valley unicorn who does it all alone – that is a very reductive way of thinking about social change.
After moving to Kenya, I hired a new team of people who are fantastic and care as much about BRIGHT Magazine’s success as I do. BRIGHT Magazine would not be here today without the dedication of this team. We set aside time to have big conversations about our future, while also setting tangible and ambitious goals that we measure our performance against.
If you had control over significant philanthropic funding, what “big bet” would you fund?
I’d invest in building critical thinking skills among people of all ages. The fact that it’s so hard to distinguish fact from fiction could spell the downfall of modern civilization. My other big bet would be climate-related, like desalination, as climate is the slowly ticking time bomb in many places. Having traveled to Cape Town in December, I think clean water will be the biggest problem that will affect most major cities in the next 10 years.
Where do you see yourself and Bright Magazine going next?
My goal for BRIGHT Magazine is for us to be the go-to magazine for social issues and the magazine on record for these topics. I want the magazine to grow from an online platform to hosting live events with storytelling so that we can have productively uncomfortable conversations.
For me personally, I feel like I am growing and learning a lot every day. I want to be the best editor that I can be and completely plugged into the social change space. I also never want to be beholden to any person, funder, organization. I like to be able to speak my mind and cause agitation.
*This post is part of GDI’s series “5 Minutes with a Social Agitator.” We define social agitators as people driving urgent change around the world using unorthodox approaches that cut across silos. If you would like to be featured or get in touch with GDI, contact us here.
It’s a question we get a lot, so we’ve tried to answer it in a new GDI case study on Convergence.
Starting with a high-level concept, GDI convened and supported a range of partners to design, build, and launch Convergence – a platform for blended finance that now stands as an independent organization based in Toronto.
Among other key steps, GDI helped Convergence secure over CAD 25M in funding and grow its team from zero to ten full-time staff. Today, Convergence has over 180 institutional members on its blended finance investment network and has awarded over CAD 5M towards the design of new blended finance structures.
In our new case study we explore: What does it actually take to build an organization like Convergence? And what did we learn along the way, from both successes and challenges?
In the Chinese zodiac, 2017 was the Year of the Rooster. But in US philanthropic circles, it was the Year of the “Big Bet” and “Systems Change” Agenda, most recently with the announcement of the MacArthur Foundation’s first $100 million 100&Change Award, among other philanthropic endeavors. These efforts aim to better coordinate philanthropists and focus on supporting larger social impact opportunities—and the social sector should applaud both.
But for long-term, lasting impact, most of these big systems change opportunities require an ingredient that gets much less attention and funding: overall sustainability through government capacity, particularly in developing countries.
In a new article published in Stanford Social Innovation Review titled “Want Your Big Bet to Pay Off? Don’t Forget About Government Capacity,” GDI’s Founder and Executive Director Andrew Stern argues why global philanthropists can no longer afford to overlook the importance of supporting government capacity in developing countries—and what they can do about it.
Throughout the article, Andrew draws insights from GDI’s experience across several initiatives including Emerging Public Leaders, the President’s Young Professionals Program of Liberia, and Unorthodox Philanthropy.
Two years after publishing our landmark report, More than the Sum of its Parts: Making Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives Work, we’re thrilled to see our research and insights continuing to influence how effective collective action plays out in practice – this time, in the areas of smallholder finance and climate change.
A new report titled “The role of Multi-stakeholder Initiatives in promoting the resilience of smallholder agriculture to climate change in Africa,” explores specifically how leading organizations are using multi-stakeholder solutions to tackle complex, system-wide development problems at the intersection of climate change and smallholder finance.
The report – published by a group including representatives from the Harvard Kennedy School Corporate Sustainability Initiative, Dalberg Research, The Mastercard Foundation, and TechnoServe – draws on insights from More than the Sum of its Parts as well as advisory support from GDI’s Executive Director Andrew Stern. It features several leading organizations to show what agricultural finance-oriented multi-stakeholder initiatives look like in practice, including two GDI-incubated initiatives: the Mastercard Foundation RAF Learning Lab (the Lab) and Initiative for Smallholder Finance (ISF).
Bringing the right actors across sectors together to spark systems-level change can be hard. We’re both excited and inspired to see partnerships emerging in smallholder finance and climate change that are going beyond business as usual to solve the world’s toughest challenges of today, and look forward to seeing how other problem solvers can learn from them in turn.