Scale X Design Challenge Corporate Sponsorship

The Scale X Design Challenge countdown has kicked into high gear for us at the Accelerator! While we are coordinating with participant teams from across the globe, making the logistical plans to get them to the event and nurturing the very best in development innovation, we also have some fantastic corporate sponsors providing financial support to make the Scale X Design Challenge truly a can’t miss event.

The Scale X Design Challenge is a way for our teams to show off all of the hard work and significant progress they have made in areas of development need. This is an opportunity to get unprecedented visibility for their work that they could not achieve in their home region. We have teams flying in from India, Ethiopia, the Balkans, and beyond to work with their peers in interactive workshops that will elevate their skills. Events surrounding the Challenge give teams the chance to connect to potential donors, business and specialized mentors, and global partners that will enable them to multiply their impact. The Scale X Design Challenge’s corporate sponsors gain high profile promotion and advertising during and surrounding the Challenge and ensure a lasting impact through all 15 of our participating teams.
Would you or your company like to join the likes of Delta in supporting the next group of change makers in their quest for scale? Check out our sponsorship brochure below for all of the perks and make sure to RSVP to the Scale X Design Challenge!


5 Minutes of Inspiration – How Krishi Utsho Improved Income in Bangladesh by 31%

How the Avon Lady Improved Income in Bangladesh by 31% by Emily Janoch

Krishi Utsho (KU) in Bangladesh has improved farmer incomes by 31% using a model that make-up sales in the United States pioneered more than  century ago.  Find out how below.

The Avon Lady in rural Bangladesh: it’s actually a more apt metaphor than you think. Avon uses a direct sales model that aims to get products to people who would not normally be able to access them, and that’s exactly what Krishi Utsho is—a way to get products closer to people.

Instead of selling makeup, they’re selling fertilizer, feed, and veterinary services. They may be getting more beautiful cows (IFPRI refers to some of these approaches as the “pampered cow project”), but the real impact is on the farmers.  With the support of the Finn Brooks Family Foundation, they’ve been working since 2012 to improve access to goods for the poorest families in Bangladesh.

What did we accomplish?

  • Higher Incomes: Farmers in areas covered by Krishi Utsho had a 31% increase in their incomes, and vendors were able to earn $1,394 per month.  That’s more than 8 times what the average farmer makes in a month, so being a vendor is an attractive option.
  • Cheaper, easier access to products: Because the shops are closer to home, farmers cut the time they spent going to get inputs in half (a 58% reduction), and dropped their cost on items like feed by 92%.  So people have more money to spend from income, but also on savings from the goods.
  • Stronger businesses: Besides the income, shop owners saw a 25% increase in their sales—and now they’re serving nearly 17,000 people a month.
  • Healthier families: Farmers in Krishi Utsho areas increased their spending on protein and vegetables by 15%, so they have better diets.  56% of families increased their spending on health care and education with the new money they had available.
  • More empowered women: in Krishi Utsho areas, women were 84% more likely to be able to influence household decisions in 2015 than they were in 2012.  They were 250% more likely to be able to make decisions about income generating activities at home.

How did we get there?

  • Set up shops with a quality brand standard: Krishi Utsho helped set up 64 branded shops that have a common brand, but are individually owned businesses—the franchise approach.  To be a Krishi Utsho approach, they have to stock quality products and provide high quality services.
  • Build Better Businesses: Krishi Utsho trained shop owners in business skills, and helped them make connections to providers of quality agricultural products. Once they have the necessary training, CARE can provide certificates and quality of service standards that people trust. CARE also serves as a trusted broker between the big brands and the KU owners.
  • Got the extra (last) mile: because the KU shops reach thousands of people that normally would never access products in bigger cities or farther away, they are attractive options for makers of inputs like fertilizer, vet services, and seeds to change their marketing and pricing to reach new customers.  It also makes products more accessible for women, who have less mobility, and for people who cannot spare the time or money to travel.
  • Build demand: By training poor, rural farmers in improved agricultural techniques and the need for services, and then connecting them to solutions that work, CARE helps the local market strengthen for everyone.  CARE’s Monitoring & Evaluation and technology platforms also help track demand and see what needs to change in the future.

Want to learn more?
Check out the Krishi Utsho Innovation Brief  and the Impact Assessment.

5 Minutes of Inspiration – CARE’s impact at scale

This month, the accelerator teams are jumping into our “Designing for Scale” lab.  To kick us off, Emily Janoch, Senior Technical Advisor and communicator extraordinaire, gives us the big picture of CARE’s impact at scale.  We are so proud to work here and humbled to think about the impact that the ideas currently in the accelerator might have one day!

What we’re learning – How do we prototype what CARE does best?

*Reposted with updated links*

If you were able to watch our introduction video, you know that one of our hypotheses for why it takes the development sector a long time to scale is that we’re often using our project cycles to test new adaptations of our innovations.  When we launch a “pilot,” that can mean waiting for two-three years to get feedback and course correct at the midterm evaluation.

While we might need to wait until the midterm to start getting hard data on impact, we don’t need to wait several years to get valuable feedback.   Why design and launch a full solution, when you can run rapid tests on prototypes first?

[Photo credit: GRID Impact. Designers from Grameen Foundation test paper prototypes in Uganda]
So in our human-centered design lab, we’re thinking about how to prototype versus pilot and how this can give us just one new tool to move faster.


GRID explains how all this works in one fantastic graph

One aspect that is taking us some time to get our heads around – how do you prototype anything that’s not a product, such as services or systems?  It’s still early days for applying HCD to international development, but here are some examples we love!

Sanitation: GRID Impact started off our lab with a deep dive into how they applied HCD and prototyping to increase the use of sanitation facilities (GRID +  Sanergy  +  DIFD  + Populist)

Family planning: The “Divine Divas” –  Prototyping a pop nail salon experience, peer-to-peer learning and service delivery for sexual and reproductive health services for adolescent girls in Zambia (Marie Stopes International + Ideo + The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation)

Prototyping nail salon experiences with teens. Read more at: Photo credit: IDEO

Governance and accountability: Making All Voices Count, an organization that works on issues of governance and accountability by enabling citizen engagement,  used human-centered design for the development of their stakeholder engagement strategy.  Their prototyping process included creating 12 “user archetypes” and using story-boarding and role playing to prototype potential ways to engage citizens.

Agriculture:  Juhudi Kilimo was interested in providing farmers with more in-depth technical training and assistance, so they prototyped both training videos utilizing actual farmers telling their stories and a mobile helpline (Juhudi Kilimo + Ideo)

Photo Credit: Read all about it here:

Health Systems: The Backpack Plus project used the physical object of a backpack as a starting point for designing systems to support and empower community health workers. (USAID + Frog  + UNICEF + MDG Health Alliance + Save the Children)
Photo Credit: UNICEF Read more at:

Getting to know our “users” and our “scalers”

This month, our accelerator teams are diving into a lab on human-centered design with GRID Impact. At the core of most accelerators, incubators or innovation “hubs” is the practice of getting to know your end user or your customer. Human-centered design has famously brought co-creation and empathy to the heart of innovation in the private sector.

As development workers, though, we often pride ourselves on being deeply empathetic, on both an organizational and individual level.  Our programmatic frameworks are built on human rights and empowerment, after all. But how well do we really know the participants in our programs (our “end users”)? Lots of data from formative research and long-term local presence can sometimes lull us into a false sense of knowing more than we really do, especially when it comes to designing programs.

It’s only fair to illustrate the point by picking on myself. Years ago, I worked on CARE’s avian influenza portfolio.  When avian flu first emerged, U.N. agencies and NGOs knew we had to act fast to provide advice to millions of backyard farmers across Asia.  During those early days, CARE was one of the first organizations to raise issues from the perspective of local communities, such as the disproportionate impact that culling flocks was having on women since they were more likely to raise backyard poultry.

Because we were closer to the community, I was pretty confident CARE could develop useful guidance for farmers. We spent time on our formative research and got out to project sites to interview farmers.  But when I got home, I did something that totally changed my perspective.  I built a chicken coop, got a few chickens and put them in my backyard. I became a backyard farmer.

new addition

These were my chickens.  You are looking at a picture of Lucile, Cordelia, Buffy and Rogue.  In just a few weeks, these ladies taught me that many of those key messages that the humanitarian community collectively developed were actually pretty terrible and not at all practical.   It wasn’t until I dove into an immersive experience to understand our “users” that the proverbial light bulb went off.

So our first question in the accelerator is, how can we push ourselves further in understanding our end user?   Do we really understand the value of our innovation from our users’ perspective?  Can we articulate it from the users’ perspective? What evidence do we have that our users see their problem and our solution the same way we do?

Also, as we scale, we have to shift our mindset to thinking about the people and institutions that will replicate or scale our innovation as users as well.  How often do we miss the opportunity to design for their needs and constraints?  If we don’t design our innovations with these implementers or “scalers” in mind, we will definitely fail to achieve uptake.

Meet the Teams: Young Men Initiative (YMI)

CARE’s gender transformation education Young Men Initiative (YMI) has been a documented success in the Western Balkans. The program is focused on transforming the school environment to one that supports and nurtures gender equality and promotes a culture of non-violence.  It seeks to achieve this outcome by both institutionalizing a gendered educational curriculum and a social norms campaign.  The program has been piloted, evaluated and accredited in most of the Western Balkan countries. The curriculum has been implemented by peer educators, youth workers and educators as part of a multiplier effect. This focus was based on the understanding that adolescence represents a pivotal moment in the socialisation process, when attitudes towards  violence and gender roles are formulated and solidified, as well as the recognition that schools are important institutions in constructing and reinforcing gender norms. The  YMI program theory hypothesises that if students learn to recognise harmful gender norms and are provided safe spaces to practise questioning these constructs, then there is a greater likelihood of internalising new ideas in support of gender-equitable, healthy and non-violent behaviours. The methodology also emphasises supporting influences and structures, such as positive peer groups and role models, and the existing policy environment.

In evaluations conducted by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) using a quasi experimental design findings showed promising results, particularly in improving attitudes related to violence against women, homophobia, gender roles and the use of violence against peers.[1]  In Kosovo, where the evaluation was able to track students over a longer period, the reviewer found using a modified Gender Equitable Men Scale to assess changes in participants’ gender-related attitudes that “For the vast majority of survey items measuring gender norms and homophobic attitudes, YMI participants showed significant shifts not observed in the comparison school.”[2] 

[1] YMI Synthesis Report, ICRW 2014

[2] Kosovo Case Study, Brian Heilman 2016.

Learn more about YMI by watching this documentary!

Meet the Team

YMI Team Group Photo_CARE Balkans

JOHN CROWNOVER | Program Advisor – Team Leader | CARE Balkans  

John is currently the Engaging Men and Boys Program Advisor within CARE International Balkans Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Sector, which includes working in Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia. His main focus is on the development and implementation of programs around gender equality, fatherhood and young men, particularly dealing with issues around masculinities, violence and conflict; gender and health; and mobilizing youth in bringing about positive social change. In addition John Crownover supports CARE’s programs addressing gender based violence, peacebuilding and the social inclusion of the Roma. John Crownover has a master’s of science in youth development and has focused his post graduate work on issues related to young men, masculinities and violence in the region of the former Yugoslavia. He currently am active in the MenEngage Alliance, including as alternative representative for CARE on the global board and active in the regional MenEngage Europe network. John am also co facilitator of the CARE International working group on engaging men and boys. He currently on the steering committee for the European wide White Ribbon campaign working to prevent violence against women.

HILDE RØREN| Programme Advisor| CARE Norway

Hilde is Care Norway’s in-house engaging men advisor and she has extensive experience from the field of engaging men for gender equality. Prior to joining CARE she worked for the International Labour Organisation in India and Geneva where she developed and managed projects focusing on engaging men in trade unions to end sexual harassment. One component of this included designing advocacy messages for senior leadership. At CARE Norway she is responsible for ensuring the quality of all engaging men initiatives across the framework agreement and also manages a project engaging young men for GBV prevention in Burundi and DRC. This project is designed based on learning from the YMI in Balkans which she was the desk officer for at CN from 2009.  Further, together with John Crownover she coordinates the CI Engaging Men network. She holds a Master in Gender and Development from the London School of Economics where she wrote her master thesis provided a critically reflection on the level of gender transformation in a selection of engaging men projects.

MARINA STARCEVIC CVIKO | Project Coordinator | CARE Balkans – Serbia

Marina by vocation is social worker, holding the bachelor degree of Faculty for Political Science, Belgrade University in Serbia. At year 2000 started the engagement in civil society sector in Serbia, working in local NGOs as Coordinator for livelihoods projects for IDPs and refugees, Counselor for SOS phone line for girls – victims of violence and as Coordinator for youth projects implemented throughout Serbia. In CARE Balkans since 2006, starting with coordination of projects related to empowerment of youth, anti-trafficking in human beings and finally in 2008 starting with the project Young Men Initiative (YMI). During the implementation of YMI in past 8 years, together with YMI team, she is in charge for monitoring and evaluation of project partners` activities, baseline and endline research, development of policy papers, manuals, publications and etc. Also, involved in program development and advocacy activities on national and regional level. Special interests are related to deconstruction of harmful masculinities, prevention of gender and peer violence and promotion of gender equality and gender justice in the Balkans.

JUDIT KONTSEKOVA | Desk Officer | CARE Austria

Judit is part of the Asia, Middle East and Europe team at CARE Austria and having a strong focus on projects in the Balkans. She has been formerly working on public policy analysis and project evaluations specifically in the field of educational, social and labour market programs/policies. A special focus of her work has been related to marginalized communities in Central and South-eastern European Countries. In her assignments she liaised for instance with the World Bank, UNDP, Roma Education Fund and national NGO partners to support the set up M&E systems and to introduce participative monitoring and learning tools. At CARE Austria she is involved in project development, contract management and donor liaison.


PAUL-ANDRÉ WILTON | Conflict Policy Advisor | CARE UK

Paul-André is Conflict Policy Advisor for CARE International UK based in London. Focused on Type 4 responses as well as deeper advocacy on South Sudan, he also works on multiplying impact in the thematic areas of gender in emergencies, resilient markets and engaging men and boys to protect and empower women in conflict. Previously at CARE, Paul-André led the Conflict Community of Practice, connecting staff working in conflict areas around the world to share their approaches and experiences, and as a technical trainer in conflict analysis, Theories of Change in peacebuilding DM&E and Do No Harm.

AMANDA MOLL | Knowledge & Learning Advisor | CARE USA

Amanda provides leadership and technical assistance on knowledge management and monitoring & evaluation to the Education Team. Specifically, her current work focuses on implementing, evaluating and documenting education-based projects to address the causes of marginalization affecting girls in developing contexts. Before joining CARE, she worked on social and political issues, as well as teaching and providing supplemental instruction in both high school and college settings.

THOMAS KNOLL | Project Manager | CARE Germany-Luxemburg

Thomas is Sociologist (University of Trier) born 1968; had several positions in International Development Cooperation (two years with the German Development Service in Agadez, Niger), two years for the Chamber of Crafts in Ruanda and Rumania with two episodes at Universities (University of Saarbruecken, University of Tuebingen) before coming to CARE DL at the beginning of 2011. Five years at CARE as Manager for Volunteers and School Campaigns, since January 2016 Project Manager for the KIWI Project (work with youth migrants).

BESNIK LEKA | Project Coordinator| CARE Balkans – Kosovo & Albania

Besnik is the project coordinator for YMI project in Kosovo and Albania.  He has a degree in Sociology and a certificate Program in Women’s and Gender Studies from Dartmouth College Ivy League School. Besnik has more than 14 years’ experience in coordination and management projects at national and international level including strong financial and personnel management expertise. He has worked with several local and International agencies and local government (i.e. the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, Ministry of Education, Deputy members from parliament, Local Municipalities, and Schools.) He is well connected with organizations and individuals who are all actively involved with community development work.

ZVJEZDANA BATKOVIC | Gender Equality Coordinator| CARE Balkans

CARE in the Balkans Regional Gender Program Coordinator has over 18 years of experience in post-war, multi-cultural environment related to emergency and developmental issues. She has strong skills in managing projects and cross-border regional programming processes focused on gender equality and women empowerment, social integration of minorities and vulnerable groups, education, youth development and good governance. She has been with CARE in the Balkans for eleven years in different capacities, from project manager of national and regional projects related to Gender Equality and Women Empowerment to Gender Advisor and Acting Program Director. She has been engaged with the Young Men Initiative since its beginning through developing project proposals, providing advisory support to the project team, defining guidelines for monitoring and evaluation, creating synergies with other projects, coordinating fundraising and research activities and conducting related assessments. She holds a Master degree in Public Administration with management and leadership focus from, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, USA, is a co-author of the first CARE in the Balkans’ Evidence of Change Report on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment 2005-2012 and a lead author of CARE International in Pakistan Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Model (2015).


SAŠA PETKOVIĆ | Project Manager| CARE Balkans – Bosnia and Herzegovina

Saša has master’s and PhD degree in Economics at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Banja Luka, where teaches as an associate professor Economics and Management of SMEs subject undergraduate students and Globalization and Entrepreneurship, Management of Entrepreneurial Projects and International Project Management. He works in CARE since 1999, and as a project manager he led various regional projects, in cooperation with youth local NGOs and government representatives. He is leading the YMI project since in its beginning and has intensive experience in work with young men.