The DIV Portfolio by Country

Regions of the DIV Portfolio


Afghanistan & Pakistan



Latin America & the Caribbean

Middle East



To sort DIV's full portfolio by sector, click here.




Behrouz Mehri, AFP.Getty Images

Caught on Camera: Testing How Election Fraud Monitoring Might Change a Cheater's Calculus

$99,992 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Democracy, Human Rights & Governance

A team from the University of California, San Diego, will use a randomized control trial to measure the effectiveness of an election monitoring approach in reducing electoral fraud in Afghanistan. The study will evaluate how candidates’ and election officials’ behavior would react to the knowledge that their vote counts would be photographed.

Click here to read the full project description.


Purdue's Improved Cowpea Storage Bags
Beksoubo Damienne

Protecting Farmers’ Incomes through Advances in Grain Storage

$88,400 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Agriculture & Food Security

Seventy five percent of Afghan people live in rural areas where agriculture is the primary activity, but farmers in these areas often experience high storage losses of grains and grain legumes. Purdue University has developed a hermetic grain storage technology, consisting of a triple-layer bag that can almost eliminate grain storage losses from insects and can greatly reduce losses from mold and mildew. Purdue is laying the groundwork to develop the supply chain for hermetic grain storage bags in Afghanistan. Effective use of the bags could reduce wheat storage loss from as high as 30 percent down to 5 to 10 percent.

Click here to read the full project description.



Indus Hospital
Andrew Reed Weller

Improving Patient Safety in Pakistan’s Hospitals

$100,000 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Global Health

The Indus Hospital in Karachi, Pakistan, partnering with Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and Interactive Research and Development, is using DIV Stage 1 funding to test whether mobile technology linked with cultural training can overcome the challenges to safe medical care in hospital ICUs in Pakistan.

Click here to read the full project description.




Thin Air Nitrogen Solutions

An Enriching Experiment: Harnessing Nitrogen from the Air to Improve Soil Fertility

$99,854 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Agriculture & Food Security

Lack of availability and prohibitive cost are major deterrents for smallholder farmers to adopt the use of organic fertilizer. Thin Air Nitrogen Solutions, a start-up company founded by Colorado State University researchers, will partner with Ethiopia's Hawassa University to pilot an alternative way to produce fertilizer using a native species of algae in Ethiopia. The team will test the cost of using the nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria to fertilize common crops. 

Click here to read the full project description.



Growing Small Businesses through an Innovative Savings-Loan Tool

$80,808 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Economic Growth and Trade

Approximately half of the 2 billion people living on less than $2 per day run businesses; however, few expand to become small or medium enterprises, despite the availability of micro lending and savings products. In Ghana, researchers from Innovations for Poverty Action are studying the relationship between an innovative hybrid lending-savings tool and investments in productive firm assets, such as machinery, that add value to a business. By requiring that the capital from the lending-savings tool be invested in a productive asset, researchers are evaluating whether the new tool can help improve the productivity and growth of small businesses. 

Click here to read the full project description.

Digital Peer Pressure for a Good Cause: Fueling the Push for Sanitation in Slums

$100,000 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene

Worldwide, 2.5 billion individuals lack access to safe sanitation. and Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) are testing whether a digital platform can successfully use social pressure to increase the demand for improved sanitation in urban areas in Ghana and throughout the developing world. The platform uses existing technologies such as open-source mapping, SMS, and social media tools to motivate individuals to map and share instances of poor sanitation to fuel participation in a broader grassroots push for improved sanitation services and behavior.

Click here to read the full project description.


Photo of a mother and her child

The Life-Saving Balloon: Developing an Affordable Postpartum Hemorrhage Treatment to Save Mothers' Lives

$99,793 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Global Health

Every four minutes, a new mother dies of postpartum hemorrhage. With deaths totaling 140,000 per year worldwide, it is the leading cause of maternal mortality. The balloon tamponade is a device that stops hemorrhage and controls uterine bleeding, saving the life of the woman over three quarters of the time. However, they are often prohibitively expensive for widespread use in developing countries. A DIV Stage 1 grant supported the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health’s (PATH) development of a safe, simple balloon tamponade that would cost less than $10. 

Click here to read the full project description.


Ghana National Apprenticeship Program Impact Evaluation: Effort, Incentives and Returns

$474,033 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Education; Economic Growth & Trade

Youth in sub-Saharan Africa account for 60 percent of the unemployed, and nearly three quarters of people ages 15 to 24 live on less than $2 a day. The National Apprenticeship Program in Ghana harnesses the knowledge and experience of firms and entrepreneurs to empower unemployed youth through training. Innovations for Poverty Action’s project tests a performance-pay scheme in which training providers (i.e. firms) receive pay based on the skill level of apprentices and their outcomes. The results of these tests will help the Government of Ghana and other governments to improve or expand large-scale apprenticeship programs.

Click here to read the full project description.



KickStart International
Esther Havens

Creative Financing to Make Small-Scale Farming Technologies Affordable for the Rural Poor

$553,000 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Agriculture & Food Security

Small-scale farming is the principal source of livelihood for many in Kenya. Agriculture provides 71 percent of employment and accounts for over 25 percent of Kenya‘s GDP. KickStart International’s shallow water irrigation pumps can increase annual net-farm incomes for these farmers by an average of $700 per year. Despite the relatively low cost of KickStart’s pumps, however, they are still beyond the reach of many poor farmers who often have irregular incomes and find it difficult to pay the large up-front cost of the pump. With support from DIV, KickStart is testing two innovative financing mechanisms to increase access to these products and help break down critical financial barriers.

Click here to read the full project description.


RAND Corporation

Making Water Filtration Affordable for Kenyan Households

$108,735 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene

Contaminated drinking water contributes to the deaths of some 750,000 children under the age of 5 every year due to diarrheal disease but simple filtration systems can prevent such tragedies. Working with the Safe Water and AIDS Project of Kenya, RAND Corporation is testing whether a “rent to own” payment plan, which allows consumers to pay for filters a little at a time using mobile phones, can help increase adoption of filters that would otherwise be unaffordable. Should the randomized control trial show that the project is successful, the “rent to own” payment plan could expand to other development products and settings. 

Click here to read the full project description.



"Innovative Bicycle:" Engineering Next Generation Bicycle Components for Developing Country Consumers

$100,000 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Global Health; Environment & Global Climate Change

Especially in rural areas, the supply of affordable, high-quality bicycles and bicycle components is virtually non-existent. Many riders rely on poor-quality models that require frequent and expensive maintenance, and spend up to a quarter of their incomes on flat tires alone. Startup social enterprise Baisikeli Ugunduzi (“innovative bicycle”) has invented a product to help rid bicyclists of one chronic transportation challenge—the flat tire. 

Click here to read the full project description.



Scaling Biochar: Investing in Soils, Improving Livelihoods, and Sequestering Carbon

$99,952 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Agriculture & Food Security; Environment & Global Climate Change

In a continent where food security is a top concern and 70% of the population works in agriculture, getting the most out of degraded soil is a must. Biochar is a charcoal dust that, when added to soil, can reverse soil fertility decline, improve crop yields, and improve plant response to fertilizer. The distribution network for biochar is diffuse and difficult to build up, so researchers will test whether it is most expedient for farmers to produce and apply the biochar themselves, by burning crop waste in a low-cost kiln.

Click here to read the full project description.


Text for Tips
Alexander Joe AFP

Text for Tips: Increasing Farmers’ Crop Yields Via an SMS-Based Knowledge Exchange with Agricultural Extension Specialists

$96,394 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Agriculture & Food Security

An estimated 75 percent of the world's poor rely on agriculture for all or some of their household income. Increasing agricultural productivity and incomes is essential for poverty reduction. Harvard researchers are teaming up with Mumias Sugar Company, the largest sugar producer in Kenya, to develop, implement, and rigorously evaluate an innovative agricultural extension program that directly reaches out to farmers via mobile phones. The program will use a randomized control trial to test the impacts of using text messages and voicemails to diffuse information, including sharing novel best practices and notifying farmers at optimal planting and harvesting times given the rains.

Click here to read the full project description.



Increasing Fertilizer Adoption by Kenyan Farmers through an Innovative Pricing Scheme

$99,828 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Agriculture & Food Security

Though chemical fertilizers can raise crop yields and farmer incomes, fertilizer use in sub-Saharan Africa remains low. Researchers will use a randomized control trial to rigorously evaluate an innovative pricing scheme to encourage Kenyan farmers to use fertilizer to increase crop yields. The pricing scheme will offer farmers small, time-limited discounts (15%) on fertilizer right after harvest to encourage purchasing fertilizer while farmers have funds readily available, rather than waiting until the next planting season when their cash reserves have depleted.

Click here to read the full project description.


Children line up to use a Sanergy toilet

From Public Health Hazard to Organic Fertilizer: Franchising Human Waste in Kenya’s Slums

$99,840 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Environment & Global Climate Change; Global Health
$1,499,984 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Environment & Global Climate Change; Global Health

After a successful Proof of Concept at DIV Stage 1, Sanergy, the award-winning social enterprise, recompeted and won DIV Stage 2 funding to provide hygienic sanitation to 70,000 slum residents through sales of at least 700 toilets. The Sanergy model creates a dense network of low-cost latrines to slum residents, collects the waste daily, and processes it as fertilizer and biogas. Designed by MIT engineers and architects, the low-cost, modular hygienic latrines can be assembled in one day. The sanitation centers are franchised to local entrepreneurs and local youth groups. Revenue from the organic fertilizer and biogas energy add to the model's profitability.

Click here to read the full project description or read the Sanergy story here.


Mobile Banking for Better Small Business

Mobile Banking for Better Small Business

$360,195 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Economic Growth & Trade

Access to credit is a major barrier to growth for small businesses in developing countries. Because lenders, not courts, are typically burdened with the costs of enforcing loan repayment in these areas, the number and types of available loans is limited. Innovations for Poverty in Action, including researchers from Georgetown University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, and the University of Warwick, in partnership with Financial Sector Deepening, Coca Cola, Safaricom and Equity Bank, is testing an innovative trade credit product for small-scale entrepreneurs in Kenya. 

Click here to read the full project description.


Heckle & Chide: How stickers could save lives on Kenya’s minibuses
Heckle & Chide: How stickers could save lives on Kenya’s minibuses

Putting Passengers in the Driver’s Seat: Preventing Road Traffic Deaths through a Public Service Campaign

$291,154 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Global Health

In the next 20 years, Africa’s deaths from road accidents are set to be double those from malaria, and already cost the African continent $10 billion annually. A pair of Georgetown researchers will test whether encouraging passengers to chide dangerous drivers will help reduce the prevalence of road traffic accidents. The project will use simple messaging on stickers placed in the cabins of Kenya's notoriously dangerous minibuses to encourage passengers to “Speak up!” against dangerous driving.

Click here to read the full project description and read more about the story here.



Fingerprinting to Reduce Risky Borrowing: A Randomized Evaluation in Malawi 

$999,944 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Economic Growth and Trade

In countries without formal identification systems, borrowers who default on bank loans can simply apply for new loans under different identities. This reduces the profitability of lending, leading lenders to limit the supply of credit. As a result, many creditworthy smallholder farmers cannot finance crucial inputs such as fertilizer and improved seeds. Researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Maryland seek to introduce a fingerprint-based credit bureau in Malawi. An early randomized evaluation of this approach showed that fingerprinting led to dramatic increases in repayment for the riskiest borrowers. Fingerprinting also led these borrowers to voluntarily take smaller loans and to be more likely to use their loans on productive farming activities. With DIV’s support, researchers are scaling up the testing of this approach to thousands of borrowers across Malawi to examine its impact on lending and repayment.



Saving to Grow: Facilitating Smart Savings among Businesses in Mozambique

$293,146 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Economic Growth & Trade

In collaboration with Mozambique’s largest cell operator Carteira Movel, researchers from the Faculdade de Economia da Universidade Nova de Lisboa are evaluating the role of mobile banking in facilitating savings by providing customers access to interest-accruing savings accounts and an automatic savings- commitment device. A randomized group of customers will then participate in a financial training program designed to help them manage their savings and build long-term financial assets for their businesses. Results will determine the impact of both the commitment device as well as the training program.


DIV Mozambikes

Fighting Poverty Using Efficient and Affordable Transportation in Rural Mozambique

$100,000 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Economic Growth and Trade

Bicycles are efficient methods of transportation that can make a substantial impact on the economy of impoverished nations. They can carry up to 4x the weight and travel 3-6x as fast as a person walking, and are generally low-cost to repair. However, reaching rural communities with the economic and health benefits of the bicycle remained challenging due to high transport costs, low quality product, rough road conditions and amplified prices in regions further from urban centers. Mozambikes has developed a model to overcome these obstacles, leveraging sales of advertising to corporate and institutional customers to make bicycles and accessories available at affordable prices for people living in impoverished areas.

Click here to read the full project description.



Senegal Ecovillage Microfinance Fund (SEM Fund)

The Senegal EcoSac Scale Up   

$80,000 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Energy  

Approximately 698 million households in Sub-Saharan Africa rely on biomass (wood, crop residues, charcoal, dung) as their primary source of energy. The Senegal Ecovillage Microfinance Fund (SEM Fund) directly addresses the African cooking fuel challenge with the EcoSac, a locally manufactured temperature retention bag similar to a crockpot or cooler. The EcoSac can reduce fuel use by an estimated 30 percent, and has the potential to save a Senegalese family $12 per month or $144 per year on energy costs. With DIV’s support, the SEM Fund is expanding its family customer base Senegalese families for this new cost-saving and carbon emission-reducing technology.



Azuri Technologies

IndiGo Solar Project

$1,000,000 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Energy

In Rwanda, 83% of the population currently lives without grid electricity. Availability of off-grid lighting solutions, such as solar PV systems, is limited in many countries in sub Saharan Africa and the upfront costs are beyond the means of many poor households. The pay-as-you-go approach used by Azuri Technologies, which is familiar from mobile phones, offers an affordable way for users to adopt new clean energy. Users are able to avoid the normally large up-front costs of solar systems and instead pay for them over small weekly installments. Customers can charge their mobile phone and have 8 hours of lighting per day for typically US$ 1.50 a week.

Click here to read the full project description.


Sierra Leone

Innovations for Poverty Action

Creative Cash for Crops: Testing Crop-Based Financial Instruments to Open Credit to Farmers

$230,145 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Agriculture & Food Security

Poor farmers are often forced to sell their crops at harvest time, when prices are lowest, because they need immediate income and lack access to crop storage. In partnership with the Government of Sierra Leone and several community banks in Kono and Kailahun districts, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Innovations for Poverty Action will test a crop-based lending model in which private banks store farmers' crops at the time of harvest as collateral and give loans to the farmers, with the goal of reducing the damaging effects of price seasonality.

Click here to read the full project description.


Evaluating the Effectiveness of Non-Financial Incentives to Improve the Delivery of Health Services in Sierra Leone

$432,258 I Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Global Health

Innovations for Poverty Action and researchers from New York University and the University of Oxford are examining how two types of social accountability interventions, non-financial incentives – such as health scorecards and clinic recognition awards - and community monitoring, can improve service delivery in the country’s public health sector. The study aims to rigorously evaluate the relative effectiveness and the potential for scaling up these two non-financial incentive mechanisms using a randomized controlled trial. The evaluation has support from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) and Ministry of Internal Affairs Local Government, Country Planning and Rural Development (MoIALGRD). Both ministries are eager to investigate and scale up social accountability mechanisms as part of a diverse set of health sector reforms. 



EGG-Energy reducing dependence on kerosene

The "Netflix" Electricity Model: Charging and Swapping Batteries in Tanzania

$100,000 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Energy

Three out of four people in Sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity, and more than 80 percent of Tanzania’s 43 million people are off the power grid. Those without grid access spend an annual $790 million on imported kerosene for lighting. EGG-energy is a private venture that brings affordable, reliable and clean energy to the people not connected to the power grid. In rural and peri-urban areas, EGG-energy trains local entrepreneurs to charge small, lead-acid batteries through solar charging stations. The entrepreneur then rents out these batteries to individual and institutional customers. 

Click here to read the full project description.


Off-Grid Electric Tanzania

mPowering Off-Grid Consumers

$100,000 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Energy

Traditional rural electrification programs have typically relied on grid extension or distribution of solar home systems & lanterns. While important, these solar lanterns and solar home systems are plagued by distribution challenges, service challenges, and high upfront costs for the populations they serve. These high upfront costs present a huge risk: the customer must be able to spend anywhere from one month to one year’s income on a device that they are personally unable to fix. Off-Grid Electric Tanzania Ltd. will test and implement pre-paid electricity via mobile banking in Arusha, Tanzania, that will enable consumers to be pre-pay for energy in in small increments and use automated payments to control costs, dramatically reducing consumer risk and improving consumer services. 



Electrifying the Base of the Pyramid through Innovative Micropayment Technology

$100,000 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Energy

The majority of families and small businessesin Tanzania are kerosene-dependent, but the vast majority of adults own a cellular phone, and an ever-growing number use mobile money platforms for bill payment and money transfer. Angaza leverages these broad market trends to provide a low-cost, scalable implementation of pay-as-you-go pricing for solar power. Angaza customers take home a PAYG-enabled solar device for a nominal upfront fee, then prepay for energy by using mobilemoney to send micro-payments to Angaza on a flexible schedule.

Click here to read the full project description.


mWater Tanzania project manager Amandus Mashamba collects water from a shallow well

Monitoring Clean Drinking Water through Technology and Open Data

$100,000 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Water, Sanitation, and Health

Right now, in Tanzania, more individuals have access to a mobile phone than a safe water source. mWater leverages this mobile technology and open data to simplify the work of water quality testing and allow people to easily find the safest water sources near them. mWater’s mobile app uses the onboard cameras on mobile phones to automatically detect colonies of coliform and E. coli bacteria that are grown on test plates from water samples. The water quality data that is collected is instantly analyzed and shared with local communities through a mapped database of water sources.

Click here to read the full project description.




Eco-Fuel Africa
Muzafar Saeed

Eco-Fuel Press Machines: Using Agricultural Waste to Fuel Efficient Cooking Fires

$100,000 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Energy

The vast majority of Ugandans cook their food over a wood or charcoal fire that, in addition to causing chronic illness and death from smoke, also contributes to the decimation of Uganda’s forests. Eco-fuel Africa invented a simple, manual machine that converts agricultural waste into fuel briquettes that burn longer, cleaner and are 20 percent cheaper than wood fuel. With DIV funding, Eco-fuel Africa has begun mass manufacturing the Eco-fuel Press Machines, leasing the machines to local unemployed women and youths in slums and villages, and training them to launch clean-energy micro-businesses. Not only will disadvantaged groups enjoy new entrepreneurial skills, but their communities will also benefit from cleaner, cheaper energy.


Lighting Rural Uganda with Solar

Sun Spotlight: Providing Solar Lighting to Uganda's Rural Cooperatives

$98,360 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Energy

With DIV Stage 1 support from USAID and an additional $37,000 in funding and contributions from other partners, Lighting Rural Uganda with Solar (LRUS), a Ugandan NGO, worked with existing village-level member cooperatives to provide households retail credit for purchasing micro-power, solar-powered LED lanterns. 

Click here to read the full project description.



Affordable Access to Energy for All: Innovative Financing for Solar Systems

$1,020,126 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Energy

Using a two-pronged approach that combines innovative solar technology with user-friendly financing, award-winning social enterprise, d.light design, will trial a product that addresses one of the major barriers for potential solar energy customers in Uganda: financing. Newly designed solar models and metering systems will deliver easy-to-use, high quality, and upgradeable electricity systems with a flexible, pay-as-you-go finance model to adapt to household needs.

Click here to read the full project description.


Smoothing the Costs of Education: Microsavings in Ugandan Primary Schools

$181,537 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Education

Uganda’s primary school enrollment rates have increased dramatically as a result of the country's Universal Primary Education strategy, introduced in 1997, which significantly reduced school fees. Unfortunately, even small purchases such as pens and exercise books continue to prevent Ugandan youth from reaching their full potential. As many as 68 percent of enrolled children drop out before completing elementary school, and the majority do so for financial reasons. Innovation for Poverty Action (IPA) and Yale Economist Dean Karlan are conducting research on a “Super Savers Program,” which encourages students to deposit change into savings boxes to help students and their families save for school fees. The project will help gain a more precise understanding of the financial barriers to high student retention, and how to address them.


How to Make Better Businesses: Experimental Evidence of the Components of Entrepreneurship

$93,612 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Economic Growth & Trade

As entrepreneurship captures the interest of policymakers who seek to stimulate development, the importance of business-skills training has grown. However, there is a lack of evidence about the essential skills required to be a good entrepreneur, and a lack of consensus on how such skills should be taught. Innovations for Poverty Action is implementing a project in Uganda to test which skills are essential to successful entrepreneurship and how to best teach these skills. This project, which is the first of its kind, will provide critical evidence of what works and what doesn’t in entrepreneurship training.



Zambia's Community Health Workers

Zambia's National Field Experiment: Recruiting and Compensating Community Health Workers

$99,032 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Global Health

One of the major management challenges facing national governments and health NGOs with community health worker programs is setting the right incentives to maximize performance. As part of a series of studies by Innovations for Poverty Action and the Government of Zambia, researchers will investigate how different models for target-setting affects community health workers’ motivation; whether having specific goals tailored to individual circumstances can improve performance; and whether the identity of who sets the goal (the Government or the health workers themselves) matters.


Girls Negotiation

Negotiating a Better Future

$452,513 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Education

In Zambia, teenage girls drop out of school at a rate three times higher than boys. Young women in Zambia also have two times the HIV rates of young men; and one in 27 women in Zambia will die giving birth, with early childbearing being one of the biggest risk factors. By training girls in negotiating skills, this intervention seeks to empower young women to discuss health and education decisions with power figures in their lives. Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) and a professor from Harvard Business School are using randomized control trials to isolate the impact of negotiation skills-training versus more traditional interventions, such as providing information about education. 




Reducing Imbalanced Fertilizer Use in Bangladesh            

$98,850 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Agriculture & Food Security 

The rural population in Bangladesh comprises approximately 85 percent of the country’s poor. Farmers in these areas often fail to achieve balanced fertilization that could lead to increased crop production and income. Harvard researchers are evaluating two approaches to help farmers balance their fertilizer use: the first approach is soil testing, a way for farmers to obtain detailed information on the nutrient content of their plots; the second approach uses leaf color charts, which help farmers determine precisely where additional nutrients are needed. The researchers are also testing whether social networks of NGOs can successfully raise awareness of the long-term costs of imbalanced fertilizer use and promote adoption of these tools.



Using Learning Camps to Improve Basic Learning Outcomes of Primary School Children     

$926,582 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Education

While most children in India aged 6 to 14 are now enrolled in school, close to half of children in Grade 5 cannot read at a Grade 2 level. Pratham Education Foundation seeks to improve basic learning outcomes by implementing learning camps: intensive bursts of teaching and learning that have emerged as a promising strategy to improve education outcomes. These camps show how learning can change in a short period of time, demonstrating to parents and teachers that accelerating basic reading and arithmetic can be done without huge expenditures of resources when communities mobilize to engage in their children's learning. 


New Loan Product Aims to Lower Risks for Sugarcane Farmers

$101,369 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Agriculture & Food Security 

In Southern India, small rural farmers growing sugarcane face liquidity constraints and financial management problems. The Small Enterprise Finance Centre at the Institute for Financial Management and Research will test a new financial product that directly addresses these risks. The product uses key insights from behavioral economics and relies on a structured loan provided by the sugar mill that processes their cane at harvest time. Using the sugar mill as the intermediary allows for cheaper and more certain payment collection.


Gram Power

Smarter Payments for Solar Power

$1,000,000 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Energy

Gram Power aims to deliver reliable, affordable electricity to part of the 2.6 billion people in the world who lack it, including nearly 380 million in rural India. Gram Power combines locally generated electricity—typically via solar panels—with the company’s proprietary Smart Meters. The meters allow customers to purchase power in advance, much as they might buy pre-paid minutes for a cell phone, and track how much they’ve consumed. Support from USAID will enable Gram Power to install 40 of its Smart Grids in rural communities in the northern provinces of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, providing reliable power to about 30,000 people.  Gram Power is also partnering with researchers at UC Berkeley and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) to evaluate power usage by customers, design incentives to encourage the adoption of energy-efficient appliances, and assess how electrification affects welfare.

Click here to read the full project description.


Cellphone-Based Agricultural Extension Services     

$160,843 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Agriculture & Food Security 

Agricultural extension services, or the advisory services that provide farmers with practical information and tools, are often limited by the cost of delivery in rural areas. Awaaz Otalo (AO) is a cellphone based extension service with the capability to reach millions of previously excluded farmers at a minimal cost per person. With AO, farmers not only receive a weekly information “broadcast” including weather forecasts and pest planning, but they can also pose questions to expert agronomists through a hotline. IFMR, including an economist from Harvard Business School, aim to bring AO’s service to more farmers throughout India and evaluate its impact on farm production via a randomized control trial. 



Leveraging Community-Based Relationships to Help Farmers Earn More in India

$100,000 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Agriculture & Food Security 

Smallholder farmers have limited access to formal credit, forcing them to rely on informal moneylenders with their inflated borrowing costs. Boston University is testing a new approach to microfinance, which incorporates community members, such as small-scale traders, shopkeepers and local government officials, into the microfinance loan-making and monitoring process. The new approach, which also features loans with longer repayment timelines more suited to farmers’ needs, may reduce farmers' dependence on informal moneylenders and traders, and help them keep a larger share their profits.



Bringing Efficiency to the Cooking Fire through Enhanced Cookstoves

$1,000,000 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Environment and Global Climate Change  

Despite the discomfort and dangers of sustained exposure to smoke, 3 billion people around the world cook on open fires. The HomeStove by BioLite offers an alternative, reducing the amount of firewood required by families and cutting toxic pollutants by 95 percent —nearly 10 times more than other available improved cook stoves. 

Click here to read the full project description.


Using the Power of Price Information to Empower Rural Farmers

$99,907 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Agriculture & Food Security

Seventy five percent of poor people in the developing world reside in rural areas. To bring their crops to market in a timely manner, many rural farmers rely on traders and middlemen who often exercise local monopoly power over price-setting. Fasal, a cell phone-based service developed by the financial software company Intuit, empowers rural farmers by providing current price information on agricultural products on demand through SMS text messages. The Centre for Micro Finance at the Institute for Financial Management and Research and researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management and Georgetown University are testing the potential of this tool to improve farmers’ incomes not only through more effective bargaining, but also by enabling them to alter their crop size, composition and planting times in more profitable ways.


An Opportunity InSight: Mobile Accounting and Financial Inclusion in Emerging Markets

$100,000 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Economic Growth & Trade

In developing economies, most micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) do not have the financial tracking systems that lenders use to assess their creditworthiness. This lack of formal information has contributed to an estimated 70 percent of MSMEs not having access to external capital from financial institutions (and leaving a possible $2.5 trillion gap in needed funding). Award-winning social enterprise InVenture is piloting an SMS-based tool that allows small business owners to track financial data quickly and easily, and helps facilitate lenders’ assessments of their creditworthiness and management of their loan repayments. 

Click here to read the full project description.


Bear Valley Venture

Getting Hands Clean Where it Matters Most: Hand Hygiene Products for the Poor

$115,500 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene 

Rates of handwashing with soap—an effective method of preventing diarrheal diseases, pneumonia, and other health problems—range from zero to 34 percent around the world. Clean Hands Inc., created by Bear Valley Ventures and associates, aims to meet sanitation needs where soap and water are inconvenient or inappropriate in urban communities with limited access to water. By developing pathogen-eliminating products, such as foam hand sanitizers, and distributing them through a social business model, Clean Hands Inc. has the potential to deliver major improvements in hygiene and health across a global market.

Click here to read the full project description.


Improving Student Achievement in India with Low-Cost Tech

$150,000 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Education

In India, low-quality teachers and absenteeism have become major obstacles to improving student performance in basic subjects such as math. Rigorous evaluations have shown that computer-based learning is effective in supplementing poor teacher quality while being responsive to specific student needs. However, these computer-based solutions often rely on infrastructure that is expensive and hard to scale. Pixatel Systems is creating a cloud-based technology platform that helps all teachers deliver educational content to students over inexpensive tablet PCs, fundamentally changing the content, delivery, and cost of computer-based learning in the classroom. 



The Right to Vote: Testing Voter Education Campaigns in India

$98,957 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Democracy, Human Rights, & Governance

Can sharing information about the qualifications of incumbent candidates improve the quality of elected politicians? Researchers run a randomized control trial in India to test whether giving voters report cards with incumbents’ background information and past performance reviews will impact electoral outcomes.

Click here to read the full project description.


Scaling CommCare: A DIV-funded startup becomes a leading solution for global

Scaling CommCare to Deliver Community Impact

$99,624 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Global Health
$996,424 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Global Health

After a successful launch as a Stage 1 project, Dimagi's CommCare is poised to expand. CommCare technologies provide mobile tools for community health workers (CHW) encouraging them to enroll all eligible clients, to conduct more timely visits to patients, and to correctly follow procedures and clinical protocols. CommCare also offers its government and health NGO clients a radically new monitoring tool that collects actionable data for performance improvement. Dimagi’s objective is to ensure that beneficiaries, CHWs, and managers all have the right information, at the right time, in the right place.

Click here to read the full project description and read more about Dimagi and DIV here.



Thumbs Up: Monitoring Health Worker Attendance with Fingerprint Recognition Technology

$172,679 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Global Health

To reduce health worker absenteeism, the State Government of Karnataka, Harvard, and the Jameel Poverty Action Lab South Asia at the Institute for Financial Management and Research, in Chennai, will use smart phones to capture thumb impressions of health staff as a monitor of daily attendance. The project will also facilitate faster response to emerging health threats by transmitting real time epidemiological data from rural areas to state-level health authorities.

Click here to read the full project description.


Alex Riehm

Exploring the Link Between Voter Information Campaigns and Responsive Governments

$200,000 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Democracy, Human Rights, & Governance

Evidence suggests that voter information campaigns have a dramatic impact on voters' choices, but do they influence politicians' behavior? The urban poor make up a large proportion of India’s voting population, but like in many developing country democracies, they have not translated their potential political weight into improved public service delivery and other benefits. Researchers will use a randomized control trial to assess how politicians adjust their spending in wards where information is circulated to voters, and will measure whether residents in the treatment groups had fewer days lost to sickness.

Click here to read the full project description.



An Optical Solution: Envisioning Affordable Eye Care for All

$585,300 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Global Health | Economic Growth and Trade

It is estimated that uncorrected vision results in $202 billion in lost productivity to the global economy. Yet, 544 million people around the world could have their vision restored with a simple pair of reading glasses.VisionSpring reaches base of the income pyramid (BoP) customers in rural and peri-urban areas through outreach efforts that provide vision screenings and access to affordable glasses. Its unique business model supports the sale of glasses to the poorest customers (a target 70 percent of all customers) with revenue from higher-priced products sold to wealthier customers.

Click here to read the full project description.



Saving Energy and Money: Testing Energy Audits to Remove Greenhouse Gas Emissions in India

$185,533 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Environment & Global Climate Change

Little is known about which industrial investments in energy-efficiency can cut both emissions and costs, and rapidly growing economies often fail to invest. With a randomized control trial spanning 400 textile and chemical plants in India’s industrial region, the results of the study will shed new light on the way firms make decisions about energy efficiency. The study will calculate the financial returns to the plant of the adoption of energy-saving approaches to compel companies to adopt those that save money, too.

Click here to read the full project description.


Alex Riehm

Improving Governance and Public Service Delivery with Voter Information Campaigns In Delhi

$200,000 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Democracy, Human Rights & Governance

Evidence suggests that voter information campaigns have a dramatic impact on voters' choices, but do they influence politicians' behavior? The urban poor make up a large proportion of India’s voting population, but like in many developing country democracies, they have not translated their potential political weight into improved public service delivery and other benefits. Researchers will use a randomized control trial to assess how politicians adjust their spending in wards where information is circulated to voters, and will measure whether residents in the treatment groups had fewer days lost to sickness.

Click here to read the full project description.


Mera Gao Power
Mera Gao Power

A Bright Answer: Providing Electricity to Rural India through Renewable Micro Grids

$300,000 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Energy

Mera Gao Power (MGP) has designed a solar-powered, village-level microgrid to provide electricity to off-grid villages in India. Through the microgrid model, renewable power is generated by solar panels and stored in battery banks that charge during the day and are discharged at night. DIV provided Stage 2 funding for MGP to establish its first commercial microgrids. Using DIV funding, MGP was able to improve the cost-effectiveness of its microgrid design, reducing the cost of a microgrid capable of providing power to 50 homes from $3,000 to $1,000. In February 2013, secured equity financing from Insitor Management, an impact investment firm provided funds for expansion into Southeast Asia. 

Click here to read the full project description.


Operation ASHA
Operation ASHA

Fingerprinting in the Fight against Tuberculosis

$897,324 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | India

Patient lapses in first-line tuberculosis treatment are a key cause of Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB)s, which could cause hundreds of thousands of deaths in the next five years. OperationASHA will test whether a biometric identification system known as eDOTS, which registers the presence of patients and staff at treatment centers through fingerprints, can prevent lapses in treatment.and the occurrence of MDR-TB.

Click here to read the full project description.


Using Performance-Based Incentives to Fight Tuberculosis in Remote Areas in India

$75,103 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Global Health

While tuberculosis (TB) can be cured in nearly all cases, it remains the leading infectious cause of death among adults in India, where nearly 2 million people develop TB annually and 1,000 people die from the disease each day. Counselors often play a critical role in improving access to TB treatment and ensuring treatment completion, but several studies have shown that the attendance and commitment of health workers in remote communities are often very low. The Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR) has designed a compensation scheme, or performance-based incentives, designed to increase counselors’ motivation to complete their important tasks properly and more efficiently. This project studies the impact of providing health workers in remote areas with performance-based incentives on both the TB case detection rate and the treatment outcomes of patients. 

Click here to read the full project description.


Pay-As-You-Go Solar Home Systems

$968,000 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Energy

Worldwide, approximately 1.3 billion people live without access to electricity, and another 1 billion have extremely unreliable access. Effective clean-energy solutions exist, but require significant upfront costs that often make them unaffordable to the poorer consumers who could benefit from them the most. Simpa is developing a market-based solution to selling clean energy, similar to buying a prepaid cell phone, providing pay-as-you-go solar home systems that are both affordable and reliable. By using a market-based model, Simpa Networks anticipates providing access to clean energy in India for nearly 4 million people in 5 years, and over 25 million people in 10 years.




Save Mothers' Lives for Less: A Self-Test that Detects a Leading Cause of Maternal Mortality for a Fraction of the Price

$100,000 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Global Health

Pre-eclampsia and its more serious progression, eclampsia, are the third leading cause of maternal deaths worldwide. Current tests, which involve lab work or multiple trips to the health center, are too costly for poor women. This grant supported further development of a pen-like technology that can cheaply and easily test for pre-eclampsia at home. Jhpiego, with support from a DIV Stage 1 grant and leveraging over $518,000 in other funding, developed an affordable, reliable self-test to detect pre-eclampsia among pregnant women. 

Click here to read the full project description.


The Philippines

University of Michigan
Sarosh Hussain

Maximizing the Development Impact of Migrant Remittances

$96,409 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Economic Growth & Trade

In 2009, migrant workers sent $307 billion to their homes around the world—an amount roughly two-and-a-half times larger than foreign aid flows. Researchers will pilot a financial innovation called EduPay and use a randomized control trial to rigorously test its impact.  This new program will allow overseas Filipinos to directly pay educational institutions in the Philippines without channeling the funds through a relative or other “trustee.” The system allows sponsors to monitor the performance (i.e. grades and attendance) of the sponsored student.

Click here to read the full project description.




A WaterSHED Moment: Bringing a Market-Based Approach to Promoting Clean Hands

$100,000 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Vietnam

$650,000 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Vietnam

In Vietnam alone, the health impact of poor sanitation costs an estimated $262 million each year. Handwashing is one of the most cost-effective tools for alleviating this tremendous disease burden, borne especially by children under five. WaterSHED's HappyTap device brings together soap and water in an affordable, purpose-built, and attractive handwashing station that makes hygienic behavior convenient and easy, helping to overcome key barriers to consistent handwashing. After successfully piloting the HappyTap at Stage 1, WaterSHED re-competed and won DIV Stage 2 funding to improve, disseminate, and rigorously evaluate the HappyTap in Vietnam. 

Click here to read the full project description.




Incentivizing Sanitation with Biogas in Haiti

$99,987 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene 

The University of Maryland will test a technological solution to two critical needs in Haiti – the need for effective wastewater treatment to help curb the cholera epidemic, and the need for decentralized, low-cost energy sources. Access to clean water and availability of sanitation systems are limited in Haiti, and cholera is likely to persist until access to adequate water and sanitation improves. The pilot aims to assess and create a sustainable sanitation model that will improve public health, the environment and local economy in Haiti. 


Increasing Food Production and Rural Commerce in Haiti using Biochar 

$100,000 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Agriculture & Food Security

Carbon Roots International, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization, has been working and refining “char” technology, which converts biomass-like agricultural waste into both cooking fuel and an alternative to fertilizer. Char, when compressed into “green charcoal” briquettes, burns cleaner and slightly longer than the wood charcoal traditionally used for fuel in Haiti, while also preventing the deforestation and environmental pollution associated with using wood. When used as biochar, char acts as a fertilizer-like soil remediation tool that increases water retention, improves cycling of nutrients in the soil, raises crop yields, and sequesters carbon. The project has the potential to not only addresses Haiti’s energy challenges, but also to improve people’s health and surrounding environment.


Buen Power Peru

Bringing Solar Power to Alpine Andean Communities

$99,992 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Energy

Approximately 20% of all Peruvians lack access to electricity. Buen Power Peru (BPP), a solar energy enterprise co-founded by an American engineer and a Peruvian entrepreneur will use Stage 1 support from DIV to capitalize on existing networks of local teachers to distribute clean, renewable solar light to those without access to traditional sources of electricity in largely inaccessible Andean, Alpine communities. Buen Power aims to bring solar lights to approximately 10,230 low-income Peruvians over the next year. It is estimated that with these lights, Alpine residents, who live at altitudes where the sun sets at 6 PM year-round, will enjoy an extra four hours of productive, waking hours every day. A corresponding evaluation will gather evidence on the impact of solar access on members of the community.

Click here to read the full project description.


Stromme Foundation

Improving Livestock Practices in Anchonga, Peru

$100,000 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Peru

In Anchonga, one of the poorest districts of Peru (67th out of 1832), almost 96% of the population lives under the poverty line, with 86% living in extreme poverty. Overgrazing livestock, a common source of livelihoof in these areas, also represents the single most important cause of environmental degradation in the Andes. Stromme Foundation and Tierra de Niños will adapt a technological solution known as Hydroponic Green Forage (HGF) to cultivate grass from barley in greenhouses on multi-level racks. Compared to the common practice of cultivating fodder grass (e.g. alfalfa),  HGF can produce up to 2000 times more feed per m2, while using 150 times less water. This makes it possible to raise livestock in relatively small, resource-constrained areas, which has several economic, social and environmental and advantages.

Click here to read the full project description.




Entrepreneurial Finance Lab

Settling the Score: A Psychometric Assessment that Unlocks Credit to Entrepreneurs in the Muslim World

$438,000 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Economic Growth & Trade

Can a psychometric exam replace the traditional credit check? An estimated 50 percent of the 2 billion people who live on $2 a day or less run small businesses, but these entrepreneurs face a key roadblock when trying to access finance to expand their businesses. Most banks screen loan applications using traditional financial statements, collateral and past borrowing history; many small and medium enterprises in developing countries, however, simply do not have this kind of formalized financial track record. The Entrepreneurial Finance Lab, founded by Harvard University researchers, has pioneered an automated tool examining a loan applicant's intelligence, business acumen, honesty and psychological profile to predict risk and future earnings potential. Over the last 4 years in 7 countries across Latin America and Africa, the tool was able to predict default as well as or better than credit scoring models used in developed countries with corporate clients.

Click here to read the full project description.



Creating behavior change through public placement
Creating behavior change through public placement
Jonathan Kalan

Bringing Safe Water to Scale

$5,543,311| Stage 3: Widespread Implementation | Water, Sanitation, & Health | Kenya & Uganda

Diarrheal disease, a leading cause of death for children under 5 is responsible for nearly 1 million deaths per year in that age group alone. Many communities seek solutions through protected communal water sources, or, if they can afford it, water pipeline systems. But these systems are ineffective when clean water at the source is stored in the household and recontaminated with a dirty cup or an unwashed hand. Use of chlorine, on the other hand, keeps water purified for a minimum of 24 hours. Using randomized control trials, the Dispensers for Safe Water (DSW) program at Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) rigorously evaluated ways to increase uptake by adjusting the way chlorine is delivered with dispensers. With Stage 3 support, Dispensers for Safe Water is scaling in Kenya and Uganda, and has plans to add more countries to that list. The project aims to provide up to 5 million people with access to dispensers over three years. 

Click here to read the full project description. 


Good World Solutions

Cracking the Code on Affordable Last-Mile Communication with Farmers and Workers

$100,000 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Economic Growth and Trade | India & Brazil

Every year, $125 billion is spent by OECD governments on international development aid programs, not counting what NGOs, companies, and private foundations invest in poverty, education, and health programs globally. There’s a call for more aggressive monitoring and evaluation (M&E) to track the impact of these programs. Labor Link by Good World Solutions is the first people-centric solution that leverages mobile to uniquely "link" base-of-pyramid farmers and workers to program managers – establishing real-time communication, data collection, and analysis. 

Click here to read the full project description. 


Potential Energy

Potential Energy: Fueling the Cookstoves Market in East Africa

$1,500,000 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Environment & Global Climate Change; Global Health | South Sudan & Ethiopia 

Each year over 2 million people die from illness related to breathing smoke from cooking fires, and many women are exposed to violence as they travel up to seven hours a day to search for fuel wood to cook for their families. Many models for high-efficiency stoves exist to replace traditional open fire methods, but few have achieved widespread use or commercial sustainability, partially due to consumer behavior and the expense of the products. Potential Energy is using support from DIV to help overcome these barriers by developing cook stove marketing and distribution channels. 

Click here to read the full project description.


Bear Valley Ventures

Testing the "Tiger Toilet" to Improve On-Site Sanitation Systems

$170,000 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept  | Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene | India, Uganda, and Myanmar

Worldwide, over 4 billion people use latrines that can be unpleasant and unhygienic or lack sanitation provisions entirely. Sewered systems are often financially out of reach, and on-site sanitation systems (those that do not require piping the waste off-site for treatment) are often unpleasant and unhygienic. Bear Valley Ventures will test an alternative, “The Tiger Toilet,” which uses tiger worms to decompose waste in order to make the latrine more hygienic and sustainable.  Bear Valley Ventures will test the technology in three different geographic locations-- India, Uganda, and Myanmar—and in three different contexts: rural communities, peri-urban areas, and a displaced persons camp.

Click here to read the full project description. 


Solar Storage: Creating Clean Energy Storage Systems for Developing World Contexts

$100,000 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | India

With Stage 1 support from DIV and additional leveraging of over $8.5 million, SiGNa Chemistry developed the E-Bike, a fuel-cell powered bicycle prototype that provides both a clean, efficient mode of transportation and a portable, stand alone, general purpose power source. The system used a portable hydrogen fuel cell power as a portable source of power for a wide range of applications including: e-bicycle, electronics, refrigerators, computers, phones, water filters/pumps, lighting, mobility and more. 

Click here to read the full project description.


Solar Sister

Solar Sister: A Women's Network to Improve Clean Energy

$1,000,000 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment | Environment & Global Climate Change | Uganda, South Sudan, Tanzania

Solar Sister is scaling a high impact program that will bring solar lighting and mobile phone charging technologies to 1.6 million Africans in Uganda, Tanzania, and the newly formed nation of South Sudan, where 50% of the population uses firewood or grass as the primary source of lighting and 27% have no lighting at all. Through the DIV Stage 2 funding, Solar Sister will recruit, train and launch 3,000 Solar Sister Entrepreneurs (SSEs) who will sell 315,000 solar lights and mobile phone chargers to provide clean energy services across East Africa.

Click here to read the full project description.



    Last updated: October 20, 2014

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