By Joseph Ssentongo
Over half of GIF’s portfolio of innovations (25/40) are based on the African continent totalling $44m worth of grants and risk capital investments. We have partnered with these organisations whilst placing evidence at the core of our model, aligning on vision of success and ensuring there is key additionality to our funds. As such, we are not merely focused on finding out what works in one context, but rather why something that works in Tanzania may positively impact millions in Ghana for instance. As Glennerster and Bates put it, “the key to the generalisability puzzle is recognising that we have to break any practical policy question into parts: some parts of the problem will be answered with local institutional knowledge and descriptive data, and some will be answered with evidence from impact evaluations in other contexts”.
As a strategic stakeholder in the evidence-led development discourse, we put tremendous value on sharing emerging evidence and fostering debate. GIF is therefore proud to host a panel titled “Evidencing Innovation for Scale” during the Evidence to Action conference hosted by the International Centre for Evaluation and Development (ICED) in Accra (9-12 July 2019). The conference aims to identify and discuss the accountability and responsibilities of stakeholders including policymakers, academics, funders, and implementers in the use of evidence to address developmental needs.
The panel discussion will feature three GIF partner organisations (ideas42, Lively Minds and IDinsight), in itself highlighting our broad definition of innovation that encompasses behavioural insights, policy practices, and technologies. GIF’s grant to ideas42 is a bet on the idea of cost-effective nudges in improving the outcomes of social protection cash transfer programmes. Lively Minds’ mothers’ engagement-based early childhood education pedagogy seeks to improve the quality of instruction at ECE centres. IDinsight’s Nano project seeks to shift the paradigm from top-down management information systems towards bottom-up systems that equip frontline supervisors with relevant and actionable information. All three are firmly rooted in rigorous evidence of impact. Besides highlighting the importance of public pathways to scaling impactful innovations, each project also points to the value of innovative ideas to relax last-mile constraints and enhance the value for money from public programmes.
The panel will illustrate the role evidence plays in informing GIF funding decisions and discuss how partner organisations use evidence to maximise the opportunity for scaling impactful innovations that will benefit the poor.
For many of our innovations, achieving impact at scale implies some form of government adoption. As a responsible stakeholder GIF is committed to finding effective and efficient pathways for using evidence to impact policy, and this forum in Accra offers a perfect opportunity. As a knowledge-based organisation GIF also looks forward to assimilating learnings from others. Follow updates from the event using the hashtag #E2A2019
 Bates, M.A. and Glennerster, R., 2017. The generalizability puzzle. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 15(3), pp.50-54.