In their lessons learned, the team cites how we had to learn the hard way about incentivizing our scalers – loan officers!
“The introduction of the A-Card has not been without its challenges. We have found that microfinance institutes (MFIs) sometimes experience a conflict of interest between offering A-Card and microfinance loans. Since MFIs earn only a 1 percent profit on A-Card and a 25 percent profit on standard loans, they have more incentive to push standard products on customers instead of offering the A-Card. To avoid this, the team is experimenting with individual local market actors like input retailers or Local Service Providers as a banking agent for this pilot.
Another lesson learned from the A-Card is that local bank staff didn’t have incentives to sell this product because it was not tied to their performance goals. We are currently working with banks to develop new incentive structures to overcome this.”
The motivations and “what’s in it for me?” perspective of our scalers – the people that we rely on to implement, promote and expand our innovation solution – are often the most overlooked! A-CARD’s incredible impact on farmers won’t matter if loan officers don’t promote the solution.
“The most urgent challenge in the social sector is not innovation, but replication. No idea will drive big impact at scale unless organizations—a lot of them—replicate it. And there are plenty of high-impact ideas awaiting high-quality replication. More than a few of them are backed by randomized controlled trial (RCT) results and all that stuff. It turns out that replication matters even more than innovation when it comes to impact at scale.”
Great argument! As a well as a very well articulated comment in response:
“USAID spends <5% on traditional R+D (i.e. new vaccines, etc) and <1% on grand challenges (i.e. Saving Lives at Birth, etc). I believe USAID and other donors need to be working with more non-traditional partners, not fewer, and encouraging new ways of doing business, not the same. It’s anecdotal, cynical and overly simplistic articles like this about “innovation” (whee!) vs. “scale” (the people who really “get it”) that exacerbate this mis-perception. The fact that “innovation” gets outsized attention relative to its actual spend and focus in global health and development certainly doesn’t mean we should do less of it. If done right, innovation should always be a healthy part of a strategic investment portfolio (likely more than the current 1-5%) if we want any hope of meeting the SDGs. The status quo isn’t gonna get us there.”
The spring edition of CARE’s Impact Magazine is out and all about Scale x Design!
Take a look at this special issue, which features an in-depth look at the Scale x Design Accelerator & Challenge, Cohort 1 spotlights, Chrysalis – the parent of both our Different Cup of Tea and Broadening gender teams, as well as other stories of Innovation at CARE.
In their second podcast, the USAID Learning Lab team focuses on the “C” in USAID’s Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA) Framework. Good collaboration can be difficult to visualize and is often misinterpreted as an impediment to progress and decision making. The Learning Lab does a great job here demonstrating why collaboration and good collaboration-nurturing techniques (including human-centered design), can elevate all aspects of your work!
Utilizing case studies, they highlight Search for Common Ground and their use of human-centered design in workshop facilitation, Grassroots Soccer using “digital storytelling to build bridges between women in South Africa” and USAID’s own collaborative process among stakeholders in Guatemala. Plus listen till the end to learn why Jazz music is the perfect example of collaboration.
Listening, prototyping, testing, learning and iterating. The cycle is fundamentally reshaping how we do
Not everyone uses words like “prototyping”, “lean startup”, or “human-centered design”, however. Similar ideas crop up in adaptive management frameworks across sectors. USAID defines adaptive management as “intentionally and systematically using relevant knowledge to inform decision-making and ultimately take action. Within the development context, that action could be adjusting interventions or whole strategies, experimenting with new ways of working, scrapping programming that simply isn’t working, or scaling approaches that have demonstrated value.”
In their first podcast, the USAID Learning Lab team explores the implementation of USAID’s Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA) Framework to see what the impact has been and how these concepts are changing development.