Mercy Corps works with USAID’s U.S. Global Development Lab and the Skoll Foundation as the implementing partner of the Innovation Investment Alliance (IIA). The IIA is grounded in the shared belief that collaboration among the public, private and non-profit sectors can combine skills and resources to find scalable solutions to widespread, seemingly intractable problems, such as poverty, the effects of climate change and economic development.
Together, we aim to create systems-level change across sectors and geographies by supporting proven, transformative, and innovative organizations to reach scale. These organizations have demonstrated impact in solving urgent social challenges, they are led by a strong social entrepreneur, and their model is financially sustainable.
In addition to directly investing in up to ten organizations, the IIA will rigorously measure, analyze, and share findings from partners to influence broader change within communities aiming to solve pressing global challenges. By publicly sharing what we learn as we invest in and work with these organizations, we will encourage increased investment in proven solutions.
Mercy Corps works closely with both USAID and the Skoll Foundation to identify, evaluate, and measure potential organizations for funding and then oversee the selected programs. We bring a deep understanding of how to assess, manage and support the growth of innovative, field-based programming.
By identifying, co-investing in, and supporting ground-breaking social enterprises in areas such as education, water, and food security, the IIA will encourage increased public and private investment in the most effective innovations, bringing life-changing products and services to people around the world.
Imazon: A non-profit whose mission is to promote sustainable development in the Amazon through research, support for public policy, dissemination of information and capacity building. Under this award, Imazon uses satellite technology to monitor and track deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, and strengthens the abilities of municipalities in the State of Pará to identify areas of illegal logging and enforce environmental regulations to stop deforestation in its tracks. The IIA is also helping Imazon grow and institutionalize its cartographic monitoring system.
VisionSpring: A social enterprise which endeavors to ensure affordable eyeglasses are accessible to low-income customers left behind by higher-priced retailers. VisionSpring aims to demonstrate a financially viable business model that can scale. The IIA has supported VisionSpring’s expansion of optical shops in Central America. These shops not only offer quality eyewear to their customers, they also act as hubs for trained staff to travel into rural villages to conduct vision screening and sell affordable glasses.
Evidence Action: A non-profit organization which installs low-cost chlorine dispensers at water points in rural communities in Uganda, Kenya, and Malawi. Chlorine disinfects drinking water while protecting it from recontamination. Chlorination also replaces the need to boil water in order to disinfect it, saving time and natural resources. The IIA is funding the expansion of this program into Uganda. The dispensers will be maintained using funds generated from the sale of carbon credits.
WSUP Advisory CIC: A social enterprise that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP). WSUP Advisory provides technical assistance to improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services for low-income urban consumers across the world. The IIA is supporting WSUP Advisory’s assistance to the Government of India’s program to provide sanitation and toilet facilities for all cities in India under the Swachh Bharat Mission. WSUP Advisory is applying its approach of demonstrating sustainable WASH models for serving all urban residents, as well as building capacity, mobilizing financing, and documenting and disseminating learnings.
Proximity Designs: A social enterprise with a mission of improving the incomes and well-being of rural families in Burma by offering affordable products and services designed specifically to increase smallholders' productivity and boost yields. Through its Farm Advisory Services (FAS) business unit, Proximity has been serving low-income farmers in the Ayeyarwady Delta with best-fit, climate-smart farming techniques. The IIA is supporting the expansion of Proximity’s farm advisory services work throughout the Ayeyarwady Delta and the Dry Zone of Burma.
One Acre Fund: A non-profit social enterprise that supports smallholder farmers in East Africa to increase their farm incomes by delivering a bundle of services that includes financing, improved inputs, training on simple agricultural techniques, and connections to markets. One Acre Fund has launched a “systems change” platform through which it partners with African governments to improve agricultural systems across entire countries. With IIA support, One Acre Fund is expanding its partnership with the government of Rwanda, through which it is training government agronomists at multiple levels on simple and effective agricultural techniques that it has proven through its direct work with farmers.
USAID’s U.S. Global Development LabUSAID’s U.S. Global Development Lab works to leverage new partnerships, innovations and platforms in order to accelerate and amplify sustainable development outcomes. The Alliance is just one of more than 1,600 partnerships that USAID has formed over the last decade to improve lives and create the conditions where assistance is no longer necessary.
The Skoll FoundationThe Skoll Foundation has been investing in social entrepreneurs across five continents for over 13 years. In addition to grant-making, Skoll supports investees through academic partnerships with the Oxford Said Business School, media partnerships with organizations like Sundance, PBS, and NPR, and private sector partnerships with businesses like Cisco.