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Breaking down the brick wall that keeps game changing innovation from international aid

Our traditional approaches to aid and development are simply not achieving the breakthroughs that the world’s most vulnerable people need. Instead, as a recent White Paper* by the Unlock Aid Group highlights, many of the industry’s structural features actually disincentive innovation.

“A small group of contractors and big international NGOs with the requisite systems are the only players that can absorb the mega-awards and therefore control with smaller organisations are brought in and to what extent…this is one of the brick walls that keep game changing innovation from international development grants and contracts and deters the kind of collaboration that would include expansive use of scalable, innovative approaches” [p.6]

The industry’s traditional approaches to funding fail to incentivise results and lead to systemic underinvestment in new technologies that may significantly increase our impact. Most government and philanthropic grants and contracts prioritise compliance over outcomes. Donor’s low tolerance for risk and short-term payment structures are inconsistent with the financial model that is needed to nurture the development of new, technology-based business models.

At Save the Children, we recognise our responsibility, as industry leaders, to support greater innovation. It is one of the reasons we have created Save the Children Global Ventures: to be one way for more nimble, innovative approaches to access large bilateral and multilateral funders and scale for impact.

At Save the Children Global Ventures, we are developing a number of results-based financing concepts that will take some of our most proven interventions to scale. We are establishing funding and support mechanisms better suited to providing the patient capital and other help that new business models require. We will actively seek out entrepreneurs that can help us significantly increase our impact for children across health, education and protection.

By transforming how entrepreneurs can engage with Save the Children, we hope to help break down the brick wall that keeps game changing innovation from international aid and development and achieve much greater impact for the world’s most vulnerable children.