Evidence is at the heart of GIF’s staged approach to investment. We take well-informed risks in pursuit of high social benefits and, as we do so, we embed learning into each investment we make. Whether you are a researcher with an innovative but untested idea, you have already evaluated an innovation and found it to be promising, or you are interested in evaluating an innovation which is currently being implemented, we want to hear from you!
The role of research and evidence at GIF
GIF’s mission is to improve lives and opportunities of millions of people in the developing world. Evidence is central to this mission: it underpins GIF’s ability to act like a venture capitalist for the public good, empowering us to take informed risks in pursuit of large payoffs – better health, better nourishment, more education, and more income for the world’s poor.
When it comes to making an investment, we want to know things like:
- Does this innovation improve poor people’s well-being?
- Under what conditions?
- By how much?
- Does it promote gender equality?
- Is it cost-effective?
- How sensitive is demand to income and price?
The answers to these types of question will guide decisions by GIF and others on whether and how to scale up the innovations.
Examples of ongoing GIF-related research
Many of GIF’s investments have research at their heart.
Mushfiq Mubarak, Professor of Economics at Yale, has developed a research program around seasonal migration as a tool to fight poverty. Working in his native Bangladesh, he has rigorously shown that travel grants or loans of a just a few dollars can help rural people find jobs in the ‘lean season’ when there’s no work on the farm. The result is that family members each consume at the equivalent of an extra meal a day. GIF is funding testing and expansion of the program in Bangladesh and Indonesia.
Research shows that support for early childhood development can have enduring benefits. Working in Ghana, Lively Minds is introducing community-run educational play schemes in kindergarten that is hoped to lead to sustained improvement in cognition, well-being, and school achievement. Professor Orazio Attanasio of UCL and colleagues at the Institute of Fiscal Studies’ Centre of the Evaluation of Development Policies will undertake a study of the program’s impact and cost-effectiveness.
The state of Tamil Nadu, India, distributes free rice to all households. This project is testing whether fortifying the rice with iron could be a cost-effective way of fighting anemia; if so, the approach might be scaled up to cover the state’s 72 million people.
A randomized controlled trial will be undertaken by a team of researchers including Professor Aprajit Mahajan (UC Berkeley, Agricultural and Resource Economics), Reynaldo Martorell (Woodruff Professor of International Nutrition at Emory University), Grant Miller (Director of the Stanford Center for International Development, and Associate Professor of Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine) and Alessandro Tarozzi (Universitat Pompeu Fabra), working with J-Pal South Asia at the IFMR.
There are several ways for researchers to get involved
If you have an innovative idea that you’d like to test for proof of concept, you can apply for a pilot grant (up to $230,000). If you’re past the pilot stage and are ready to rigorously test impact and cost-effectiveness, you can apply for a test and transition grant (up to $2.3 million).
If you are interested in evaluating an innovation being implemented by a government, business, or NGO, team up with them and apply for funding. The application could come either from the implementer or the researcher. For innovations that already have good supporting evidence and want to generate further learning as they expand and evolve, total funding can go up to $15 million.
If you’ve already evaluated an innovation and found it to be promising, let us know about it, and encourage the innovator to apply to GIF for scale-up.
We are also eager to hear from researchers with innovative approaches to reducing the cost and improving the utility of monitoring and evaluation, including promotion of feedback for adaptive implementation of projects.
We accept applications on an ongoing basis throughout the year – a simple two-page initial application can be submitted here, and projects selected for further diligence will then be asked to submit a full application. Applications that pass internal review are submitted to a decision panel, which recommends funding.
If evidence is your passion too, we want to hear from you!