Development Co-operation Directorate

DAC Prize



 Taking Development Innovation to Scale

All great success stories have happened because someone had a goal and pulled people together to get it done. History has shown us that leadership is one of the most important drivers for development.

Despite the enormous progress ‌made, many development gaps remain. The solutions that will close these gaps will also come from innovative ideas that can be taken to scale. In September 2015, presidents and prime ministers met at the United Nations, and agreed on the historic goal to end extreme poverty by 2030 and a new set of Sustainable Development Goals.

More innovative solutions will need to be taken to scale if we are to end poverty, green our economies and to make sure that all the children now going to school actually learn something! We need to look at what works, which innovations are important to focus on and bring to scale.

This is the objective of the DAC Prize for Taking Development Innovation to Scale. By the prize we recognise organisations who have taken an innovative approach, instrument or mechanism beyond the pilot phase to wider application. With the DAC Prize, the Development Assistance Committee and the OECD wish to acknowledge development actors who take this step: from supporting innovation, to using it systematically and strategically to address development challenges by taking it to scale. We hope that this will encourage a more systematic use of innovative development solutions that have already proven successful.

Fundamentally, this is about investing in what works, and encouraging more of it. The projects presented in on this website, finalists for the 2015 prize, demonstrate the value of innovative ideas.

They range from connecting farmers to the information they need about their plants and increasing the quality of their crops to giving access to green and affordable electricity, and much more.

- Erik Solheim, Chair of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC)



Meet the winners and finalists of the 2015 DAC Prize:

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the DAC Prize 2015 brochure







The winners of the DAC Prize 2015 are:

African Cashew Initiative
The African Cashew Initiative (ACi) was set-up with the vision to increase the annual net income of 430 000 cashew farmers, and to create new jobs and increase the rate of raw cashew nuts processed. 

By adopting innovative measures in five countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Mozambique, The African Cashew Initiative has addressed the challenges in the cashew sector.

They collaborate with both private and public sector partners, and have created a new innovative type of multi-stakeholder partnership in development cooperation. To accelerate the development of the cashew industry they gave also founded a Cashew Matching Grant Fund – which is a new public-private partnership model to leverage funds.

The connection of farmers to the information they need, enabling them to lose less, grow more and improve crop quality, is the driving motivation of the global Plantwise programme led by CABI. The innovative concept is as simple as it is effective. Working in close partnerships with national agricultural advisory services - currently 34 countries across Africa, Latin America and Asia - Plantwise supports the establishment of local ‘plant clinics’, staffed with trained ‘plant doctors’ where farmers can seek practical plant health advice.

Plant clinics are reinforced by the Plantwise knowledge bank, which contains a database with resources - pest photo sheets, technical factsheets, pest distribution maps, and guides to reducing risks from pesticides.

ReadyPay Solar
Fenix International addresses the widespread lack of energy with ready paid power to over 22.000 households, benefitting over 136 000 people across Uganda. There are also additional indirect beneficiaries included extended family members or neighbours. ReadyPay Power also addresses financing constraints, because customers who lack access to power almost always lack access to financing as well.

Instead of requiring a customer to pay for a years’ worth of power up front, ReadyPay enables customers to purchase the system in micro-installments that fit their income. This flexible payment plan lowers the barrier to access clean energy for millions of people. With ReadyPay Solar, customers use their mobile phone to pay as little as USD 0.35 a day, less than their current energy costs, to finance solar panels, lights, radios and other life-changing appliances.

Meet the other finalists of the DAC Prize 2015:

The Citizens Foundation
With 25 million children out of school, Pakistan has the second highest out of school population globally. National literacy is at 58% and female literacy is at 48%. In this challenging context, The Citizens Foundation delivers education at a wide-scale to the “bottom of the pyramid”. Among the innovative features of The Citizens Foundation model is its female-centric approach towards social development. The organisation employs 8 900 teachers and principals, and strives to maintain a 50% female enrolment ratio in its schools.

By building schools within walking distance of the intended beneficiaries, hiring local females as teachers, providing teachers free transportation facilities and investing in intensive teacher training, The Citizen Foundation has been able to retain female teachers and students.

Europa RE
Vulnerability to natural catastrophes due to climate change is on the rise. Since the 1980ies, the losses from catastrophic events worldwide have tripled. Yet the largest share of losses is not covered by insurance. In South-eastern Europe, the frequency and severity of natural disasters are rising in all countries in this region.

Europa Re addresses the risks from natural disasters by developing a private insurance market for catastrophic risks. This includes both the development of innovative insurance products for local insurers and the provision of reinsurance capacity. Europa Re benefits clients such as homeowners in Central Serbia who can now insure their property against flooding and earthquakes for an affordable annual premium of around EUR 30. It also allows farmers in Western Macedonia to insure their wheat yields against losses due to climatic and biological perils.

Farmer Field School: The field is the school and the plants are the teachers
Agriculture in Rwanda is the main economic activity for the rural households, and remains the main source of income. With only half a hectare of cultivated land per household, it is crucial to optimise crop production. But agricultural productivity remains far below potential.

With the field is the school and the plants are the teachers programme, the Belgium development agency supports the Rwandan Government in its aim to introduce a training system that offers a practical and intensive learning opportunity to all Rwandan farmers. The farmers are taught in the field how to improve their farming and trained and coached to become themselves facilitators for other farmers.

Lessons Study in Zambia
Nine out of every ten children start school. However, four out of ten children in the world are still unable to read, write, or do basic mathematics. The quality of teaching and learning is essential to the impact of education, as reflected in Sustainable Development Goal number 4 on quality education.

In Zambia, more than 95% of all children enrol in primary school; however learning outcomes of pupils have not been sufficient. Lesson Study is an innovative approach that dramatically improves teaching skills by mutual learning among teachers themselves. Lesson Study is based on 140 years of history in Japanese schools and is increasingly used in East Asia, the United States and Europe. Teacher collaboration results in innovative ideas that change classroom practices from planning to delivering and reviewing lessons, eventually creating a new school culture of a“learning community”.

Safecare: A business case for improving healthcare quality for poor people in Kenya
SafeCare was set up in 2011 as a strategic public-private partnership that addresses the gap in financing and delivery of better quality healthcare. It brings together Kenya’s National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF, public and private primary healthcare providers, local banks, the Medical Credit Fund – a not-for-profit organisation which facilitates affordable loans through local banks – and PharmAccess.

SafeCare connects and leverages the actions of all these partners: primary healthcare clinics become eligible to participate in the NHIF program, which creates more revenue and enables trust among stakeholders and patients. Kenya’s government uses SafeCare results for evidence-based health policies. Primary healthcare clinics develop their business potential, providing them with a more stable source of income. Local Kenyan banks expand their investment portfolio in the healthcare market based on more reliable standards of business. Most importantly, patients gain access to better quality healthcare.

Telemedicine Project

Providing medical services in remote and rural regions in poor countries is a key challenge for improved health outcomes. In areas like the Amansie West district in Ghana communities are separated by stretches of unpaved roads, often requiring four-wheel-drive vehicles to enable access. During the rainy season, it may take as long as seven hours to travel from the rural villages to the nearest referral hospital.

Through its innovative use of information and communications technology, the Telemedicine project improves the access to and availability of healthcare services at the point-of-care by enhancing the referral system in rural areas, reducing unnecessary transportation resources and cost through a teleconsultation center, and expanding the reach of physicians to rural facilities. The project also aims to strengthen the triage process. Healthcare personnel are trained in the use of mobile technologies to perform 24-hour health consultations from a distance, while community health workers conduct home visits and follow-up appointments.

Hospitals play a central role in country’s health services, from regularly being first point of contact for patient diagnosis, to designation and delivery of specialised inpatient care. They also account for a significant share of national health expenditure. Efficiency and quality of hospital services is a key factor for strengthening a country’s health systems.

5S-Kaizen is an approach to improve hospital management that builds on successful business models from Japan’s manufacturing industry. At its core, it is a team-based continuous problem solving activity to improve work processes that is simple, easy to do, and requires little additional costs: Work Improvement Teams at ward/department level, and Quality Improvement Teams at management level are set up, discuss problems and inefficiencies they face and try out solutions conceived by themselves. Employees can immediately see benefits. Confidence and motivation of employees are increased through experiencing small successes, realising they can be the agents for change, enhancing the sustainability of the approach.

The DAC Prize becomes the OECD Award for Taking Development Innovation to Scale

We are pleased to announce that this year’s DAC Prize will be awarded jointly by the DAC and the OECD Network of Foundations Working for Development (NetFWD). NetFWD, which is a network of the OECD Development Centre, places major emphasis on scaling and impact. To reflect the broadening effort beyond the DAC, the Prize will become the “OECD Award for Taking Development Innovation to Scale” starting with the 2016 edition.

  • H.E. Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of International Development and Cooperation, United Arab Emirates 
  • K.Y. Amoako, President, African Center for Economic Transformation
  • Julius O. Akinyemi, Resident Entrepreneur at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab
  • Homi Kharas, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director for the Global Economy and Development, Brookings Institution
  • Geoff Lamb, Chief Economic and Policy Advisor to the co-Chairs and CEO, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Dato Lee Yee Cheong, Chairman, International Science Technology and Innovation Center for South-South Cooperation (ISTIC), Malaysia
  • H.E. Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of International Development and Cooperation, United Arab Emirates
  • Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, Head of the President's Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight, Republic of Indonesia
  • Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell, MP, House of Commons, United Kingdom
  • Charlotte Petri-Gornitzka, Director General, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SIDA
  • Andrew Wyckoff, Director, Science, Technology and Industry Department, OECD
  • Raj Kumar, Devex founding president and editor-in-chief and Chair of the World Economic’s Forum Global Agenda Council on Humanitarian Response.


Last Years Winner: Katalyst

Katalyst from Bangladesh was the worthy winner of the DAC Prize 2014. The winner shows how very simple business ideas can have a big impact on people’s lives. The Katalyst concept is based on providing high-quality seeds in mini-packets to low-income farmers as a means of helping to increase their income. Over three seasons, the number of beneficiaries doubled and 14 million dollars’ worth of additional vegetables were produced. This success has encouraged more seed companies to introduce mini-packets. Katalyst is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation, the UK Department for International Development, the Danish International Development Agency, the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation (GIZ), the foundation Swisscontact and the Bangladesh Ministry of Commerce.

What has happened since last year? The experiences from last year's winner and finalists.



The DAC Prize 2015 is awarded in partnership with the OECD Network of Foundations Working for Development (NetFWD) and Devex.





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