What We Look For

DIV evaluates applicant solutions based on three main criteria: the cost effectiveness of the idea relative to traditional alternatives; the project’s plan for collecting rigorous evidence of success; and the solution’s proposed pathways to scale if it is proven effective.

Cost Effectiveness

DIV seeks applications that have ideas for addressing development challenges more effectively and more cheaply. Therefore, cost analysis must be conducted in all projects; the specific approach can be determined based on the solution.  

Stool representing scale, cost-effectiveness, and rigorous testing

Rigorous Testing

Many pilots never reach scale because they do not sufficiently focus on collecting rigorous evidence of success. The DIV model emphasizes testing potential solutions and rigorously evaluating impact - often through randomized control trials - to identify what works and what does not, and to help scale only those solutions proven to produce results.

Pathways to Scale

Innovations are expected to eventually scale up through the private sector, the public sector, or in some cases a combination of the two, in order to reach sustainability without DIV support.

Scale through the public sector. Applicants should demonstrate that they are likely to compel host country governments, multilateral donors or other public sector players to scale the innovation. They should discuss how targeted outreach, rigorous evaluation (such as a randomized evaluation) and evidence of cost-effectiveness will result in action. At the time of application, the most competitive applicants have already achieved public sector commitments to scale successful results

Scale through the private sector. Successful innovations expected to achieve widespread adoption through private sector commercialization without long-run support from donors, governments, or philanthropy will provide evidence that: production costs and sales prices are such that producers make profits; beneficiaries demand and are willing to pay for the product or service; governments receive associated tax revenue; and development outcomes occur.

Applicants should either plan to achieve commercial viability themselves, convincingly demonstrate that other businesses will scale their innovation, or a combination of both.

Innovating in Stages

Applicants with ideas that meet DIV's above review criteria can submit proposals to one of DIV's three distinct stages of financing. The applicant chooses a stage level based on how far their project is in its development and to what extent they have previously gathered evidence of its success. Staging is not based on the level of funding needed.

  • Stage 1 establishes proof of concept and viability of innovations in small pilots
  • Stage 2 evaluates solutions at scale with rigorous impact testing
  • Stage 3 transitions successful programs to widespread implementation.


Applicant next steps: 

How to apply

Additional resources:


Apply to DIV

Annual Program Statement


Last updated: April 15, 2013

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