Innovation and Partnerships are critical to creating the conditions where foreign assistance is no longer necessary. USAID’s Office of Innovation and Development Alliances (IDEA) was created to pioneer, test, and mainstream models, approaches, and mechanisms that can lead to drastic (not incremental) improvements in development outcomes while establishing and coordinating partnerships that can lead to more sustainable development outcomes.
IDEA’s current priorities include:
- Development Innovation Ventures, which provides a mechanism for identifying and testing promising development solutions, and scaling proven successes.
- Mobile Solutions: More people now have access to a mobile phone than a clean toilet, and mobile banking has the potential to accelerate development outcomes related to financial inclusion, transparency, and accountability among others. IDEA seeks to spur the adoption of mobile banking in several key countries, establish mobile payments as a viable alternative to cash payments, and mainstream mobile banking within development programming.
- Establishing High-Impact, Agency-Wide Global Partnerships: IDEA manages the the Global Development Alliance (GDA) program. Established in 2001, GDA has led to nearly a thousand alliances (i.e. public-private partnerships) with over 1,700 distinct partners to leverage more than $9 billion in combined public and private resources. IDEA’s Global Partnership Division has both an external and internal function in that it pursues partnerships on specific Agency priorities while helping offices across the Agency develop their own partnership capacity.
- Supporting Locally Sustainable programming: Working closely with local implementing partners and building their capacity is a key aspect of the Agency’s implementation and procurement reform efforts. IDEA manages several different grant programs -- including the Development Grants Program, Cooperative Development Program, and the Small Projects Assistance Program – as well as the registration of private voluntary organizations aimed at improving aid effectiveness and sustainability by supporting local organizations.
- Advocating for Innovation across the Agency: In addition to incubating selected approaches, IDEA seeks to encourage innovation – the pursuit of drastic (not incremental) increases in the reach, cost-efficiency, and effectiveness of development solutions – across the Agency by identifying, highlighting, and rewarding innovations across the Agency, and supporting other Offices, Bureaus, and Missions in integrating innovation into their work.