Innovating for pro-poor services: why politics matter

Research reports and studies
March 2016
Photo: Elizabeth Mukwimba, an M-Power Off-Grid Electric customer in Tanzania. Russell Watkins / Department of International Development

In order to solve sustainable development challenges and provide universal access to basic services, we need new ideas, as well as old ideas, applied in new ways and new places. Innovation can make basic services cheaper, more accessible and more relevant for poor people.

Despite innovation efforts and optimism across the development sector, few innovations lead to actual sustainable, systemic change. Too often the barriers are political – factors such as motivation, power and collective action prevent innovations from leading to real progress.

Politically smart approaches can help navigate and mitigate these challenges. This report and policy brief demonstrate how innovations can alter the balance of power in societies and markets and provoke systemic political change. The authors address when and why politics matters for innovation, and what this means for donors, foundations and impact investors backing innovations for development.

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