Did you know that last year 80 people died in northern Bangladesh from the cold? It is unacceptable that people are dying from the cold when in some cases warmer clothes and blankets could make the difference between life and death.
We are excited to officially announce the winners of the innovation fund for mobile money challenge! These projects were selected from the 100 ideas that were submitted on the innovation fund challenge web site, reviewed by external advisors, and finally decided on by an internal judging panel. These projects will be implemented over the course of the next year by BRAC in Bangladesh—so stay tuned for many more updates!
BRAC wrapped up the second Frugal Innovation Forum amid much excitement about the possibility for new ideas and partnerships. Over 150 people representing 16 countries spent their weekend at BRAC’s scenic conference centre in Savar, learning from each other, sharing traffic jam-induced epiphanies, and bonding over tea, cricket and karaoke.
There is a lot of optimism and speculation about how mobile money can improve the lives of the poor. For BRAC, the success of an intervention is judged not only by its impact, but whether it can be scaled nationally. In order to do that, initiatives have to be frugal—which is why frugal innovation is at the heart of BRAC’s culture. If we didn’t keep our costs low, we wouldn’t be able to impact 120 million people. With the importance of this in mind, the social innovation lab has made hosting Frugal Innovation Forums an annual event.
Mobile money is creating new ways to work with the poor and help them manage their money. Already in four countries, there are more mobile money accounts than bank accounts. Innovative development approaches are appearing around the world. Bangladesh is the fastest growing mobile money market in the world, and organisations like Oxfam, FHI 360, Chars Livelihood Programme and others are experimenting with it.
When assessing pilots, people often talk about a program or organization’s potential to scale. Certainly there are factors that make some models easier to scale than others. At BRAC, the world’s largest nonprofit organization, there is a relentless focus on making models that are not only effective, but also efficient and scalable. But our current research initiative, called the Doing While Learning: Collaborative Models for Scaling Innovation project, is revealing the importance of factors beyond the model, such as organizational capabilities and social capital in the pilot’s environment.
Many development organizations struggle with achieving scale—should more NGO’s consider partnerships to achieve their aims?
BRAC usually scales primarily through their infrastructure, but the success of their educational support program offers an inspiring example of the power of scaling through others.
We live in an innovation obsessed world. Organisations across sectors have made innovating an explicit priority. Many are devising deliberate strategies to foster innovation. In 2012, BRAC, the world’s largest NGO, developed the Social Innovation Lab for this purpose. We step out from the researcher’s cubicle and explore innovations happening on the frontlines.