At the fund, we believe social innovation can come from anyone, anywhere. But that doesn’t mean that all development projects are a good fit for GIF. We have very specific criteria and our investment process is highly selective and rigorous. The following section is intended to help prospective applicants understand our investment criteria before choosing whether or not to apply.
The fund welcomes innovations that address any major development challenge in any developing country:
- Organisation type: Anyone may apply, including social enterprises, for-profit companies, non-profit organisations, government agencies, international organisations, and researchers in any country.
- Sector: we are open to funding innovations in any sector as long as you can show that your innovation improves the lives of those living on less than $5 PPP per day, especially less than $2 PPP per day
- Location: we fund innovations implemented in developing countries
While the fund welcomes applications from anyone, anywhere; all applications are assessed against our four investment criteria though a highly selective, rigorous process:
Innovation and Impact
Our first criterion asks whether your intervention will meaningfully improve the lives of those living on less than $5 PPP per day. We ask three questions:
- Does your innovation have the potential to deliver substantially greater results per dollar than standard development practice?
- What is your evidence of impact to back this claim?
- Will your current request substantially strengthen or test your case for impact?
- Do you reach our target market?
Does your innovation test, challenge, or improve on business as usual?
Simply put, the Global Innovation Fund must fund innovation. Your innovation could be a new business model, technology, distribution system, financing mechanism, etc. Whatever the type of innovation, you need to explain how your innovation can make it easier, faster, less costly or otherwise more feasible to tackle an important development challenge. For example, does your business model allow you have a bigger impact on behaviour than alternatives? Is your technology cheaper? Does your financing mechanism allow you to reach a poorer income segment?
Do you have evidence of impact?
The fund is committed to supporting the acceleration and transition to scale of innovations that are backed by rigorous evidence. To that end, we will ask to see quantitative evidence that your innovation improves on business as usual. Often, but not always, this evidence may be generated via a rigorous randomized controlled trial or quantitative assessments that use other strategies to identify the causal impact of your approach relative to a comparable control group.
Our expectations of the level of evidence you have to support your innovation increase with organisational stage. Later stage organisations, at larger scale, requesting larger amounts of funding are required to have more robust evidence of impact. See “what we expect at each stage” for more detail.
Do you reach our target market?
The fund supports innovations that benefit people living on less than the equivalent of $5 PPP* per day in developing countries, and we are especially interested in innovations that impact people living on less than $2 PPP per day. We expect innovators to have some understanding of who their customers / beneficiaries are to show that they fall within our target market.
*PPP = purchasing power parity. PPP prices are different from market prices. Please see the World Bank website for an explanation of these poverty lines, and information on how to calculate incomes in PPP terms.
Measuring success and sharing lessons learned
We support innovators who are committed to evaluating their own success, with plans to collect data and feedback to help inform decisions. This includes operational monitoring and evaluation, as well as impact evaluation. Innovators from learning organizations that make data driven decisions are a good fit for the fund.
We also want to see an openness to sharing relevant lessons with our team and external partners, especially if this is necessary to foster scale.
Potential to Scale
The fund’s goal is to scale innovative solutions to development challenges that are backed by rigorous evidence. We only fund innovations with the potential to scale to reach millions of people living on less than $5 PPP a day.
Our staged funding approach allows us to support innovations at different stages on their path to scale, from small scale field pilots to scaling a proven intervention to a whole new country.
If you are applying at the pilot stage, please make sure to explain how the innovation you are working on could scale and grow. We are interested in funding pilot projects that reach 1,000 people in the next 12 months, so long as the model has the potential to scale to reach millions of people in the long run. If your innovation is only ever designed to reach a few thousand people in a specific context, you are a not a good fit for GIF even at the pilot stage.
Your organisation does not have to scale the innovation directly
While in some cases, your organisation may be able to scale an innovation directly to reach millions of people, we also expect many innovations to scale through partnerships (such as with government or philanthropic organisations or other firms). In assessing the potential of an applicant’s intervention to scale, we evaluate its operational, financial and social viability at scale. Even applicants not currently at scale should be ready to explore who would likely implement and pay for the innovation at scale.
We look for innovators with the relevant expertise and capabilities to achieve success.We also like to see that your team has clear roles, responsibilities, and time commitments needed to be successful. Teams should be able to demonstrate strong knowledge of the problems they are addressing and what approaches are likely to work in the local environment surrounding their innovation (e.g. operational, geographical, political, or social context). It is especially important that teams demonstrate the ability to identify and respond to risks and changes that are likely to arise as growth is achieved. We also look for the team’s ability to engage effectively with partners in government, private sector, and/or community leaders as needed.
At earlier stages of development, teams must demonstrate a strong commitment to drive the innovation forward, with openness and ability to pivot or adjust their strategies as needed. At later stages of development, teams should demonstrate that they have the management, operational, and evaluation capabilities needed to test and scale up the innovation.