Entrepreneurs & Innovators Grants | USAID | Wirkish, 2021

Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) is USAID’s open innovation program that invests in breakthrough solutions to the world’s most intractable development challenges. By investing in innovation and focusing on rigorous evidence, DIV impacts millions of lives at a fraction of the usual cost.

DIV looks for bold development ideas, pilots them in small increments and tests their effects, and scales those that demonstrate widespread impact and cost-efficiency.

Inspired by the venture-capital approach, DIV uses tiered funding to maximize impact per dollar spent. This allows for risk at early stages and mitigates risk at later stages, ensuring that funding is targeted to the most cost-effective innovations.

DIV provides grant funding to innovators and researchers to test new ideas, take strategic risks, build evidence of what works, and advance the best solutions. DIV looks for solutions that demonstrate rigorous evidence of impact, cost-effectiveness, and a viable pathway to scale and sustainability.

DIV offers the following funding:

  • Stage 1: Pilot (Up to $200,000)
  • Stage 2: Test and Position for Scale (Up to $1,500,000)
  • Stage 3: Transition to Scale (Up to $15,000,000)
  • Evidence Grants (Up to $1,500,000)

How To Apply

Step 1: Prepare your application

Draft your application in MS Word using our sample application form. This document contains sample applications for all Stages and for Evidence grants.

Step 2: Submit through our online application portal

You will need to create an account on the DIV application portal so that you may work on the application over time and check the status of your application. Applications submitted via any method other than the online application portal will not be reviewed. It is simple to paste your answers in the portal from the draft you created in Step 1.

All applications received through the DIV application portal are reviewed by the DIV team. After initial review, applications are either moved into the due diligence stage (Step 3) or declined. Applicants usually receive feedback within 2 to 3 months after submitting an application. 

Portal notes:

  • The portal is best accessed through Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Safari. 
  • Your application will save automatically and continuously as you work on the application.
  • The application is plain text only.
  • Once you submit your application, you will not be able to edit the application. 
  • Applications are limited to one per project.

Step  3: After the initial review – Due Diligence

Applicants who pass the initial review move onto the due diligence stage. During this stage, applicants have the opportunity to provide more information on their proposal so the DIV team can better understand the proposed solution. The DIV team will conduct additional interviews, request supplementary materials, contact references or partners, engage other USAID or external experts, and gather any other information necessary to fully evaluate the application. 

The due diligence process usually takes 2 to 5 months, depending on a variety of factors, such as the proposal’s technical complexity.

Step  4: After Due Diligence – Negotiation and Finalization

After collecting sufficient information, the DIV team will convene a Decision Panel. If the Panel makes a funding recommendation, the applicant will receive an official “Notice of Intent to Award.” Once recommended for funding, applicants start the process of negotiating milestones and finalizing the award with USAID.

In addition to submitting various materials and completing documents required by the Agency, an important part of this process is negotiating the project milestones that will structure the award payments. DIV provides funding only when specific results and milestones are achieved. 

The process to negotiate milestones and finalize the award can take 2 to 3 months.

Step  5: Receive DIV Funding!

If you’ve been selected for DIV funding, subject to funding availability and satisfaction of U.S. government procurement requirements, USAID will award the grant. 

From the date you submit an application to the date of award finalization, the process usually takes between 6 to 12 months.

For more information, go to www.usaid.gov/div

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