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Top 5: Social Innovation in International Development

August 19, 2016

SocInn IntDev
As development challenges become more complex, the need for innovation within international development is increasingly popular. Governments, development aid agencies, NGOs, and other relevant stakeholders are constantly looking for transformative solutions to end poverty.  Impact investors are keen to invest in ground-breaking solutions and technologies with the potential to contribute to the achievement of the development goals. Social entrepreneurs are trying to fill the gaps left by traditional development. Some GSEN members work in emerging countries and frontier markets, and we thought the changing landscape for Social Innovation in International Development would be a fascinating topic to investigate:

Some readings to get started:

  • Innovation in International Development is a new report published by Nesta. it is an excellent inventory of new approaches and perspectives from across the International Development sector to show how innovation is thought about, designed, and delivered for achieving impact goals. It offers an introduction for those new to innovation in development, as well as insights and advice for experienced practitioners with regards to ways to organise and fund innovation, strategies to harness new partnerships and scale.
  • An Introduction to Social Innovation for NGOs is a publication by Bond, attempting to define social innovation in international development, exploring its contextual drivers, the different types of innovation that exist, and the processes that facilitate it. It also highlights examples of how NGOs are creating an environment that is conducive to innovation.
  • Amplify Impact Investing  by InsideNGO and the International Non-Governmental Organization (INGO), is an in-depth study of the current impact investing landscape among INGOs in the international development sector. The report reveals that the development sector’s impact investing activity is growing, seeking solutions to economic and social challenges that result also in financial returns for the investors.

Some free-online courses to dig deeper:

  • With the Innovation and Design for Global Grand Challenges MOOC by Duke University, you will learn how to address the world’s biggest challenges using the latest innovations in technology, business, and behavioral science. From crowdfunding to 3D printing, the course will look at real cases of successes and failures from entrepreneurs who have tried to tackle these problems in novel ways.
  • Design Kit: the Course for Human-Centered Design is a seven-week course that will introduce you to the concept of human-centered design, a practical, repeatable approach to arriving at innovative solutions. This approach is increasingly applied in international development, to engage the end users in designing and transforming products and processes. The Design Kit has been created by IDEO and Acumen+.


Did you find this post useful? Got a topic you would like us to cover, or a resource you think we should include? Let us know!


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