Friday, October 9, 2015

Where the 'magic happens' for innovation | Devex

Where the 'magic happens' for innovation | Devex: "Innovation can be a real challenge for nongovernmental organizations because of funding constraints and restrictions.

“I think it’s actually really hard for NGOs to innovate,” Ann Mei Chang, executive director of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s U.S. Global Development Lab, said at the Social Capital Markets conference in San Francisco Wednesday. “And I think one of the biggest problems is folks like USAID.”

But USAID has recognized that major funders and old systems are part of the problem and the agency is working to address the issue by providing flexible funding models, she added.

Chang’s comments drew laughs from a crowd of social business enthusiasts, and probably some appreciation from her colleagues from UNICEF, Habitat for Humanity and World Vision International at the SOCAP Conference Wednesday. Devex caught up with Chang for a video interview to hear more about the challenges of scaling innovations at NGOs and her plans for the lab.

“SOCAP really works at the intersection of the private sector, the public sector and NGOs,” said Chang, who spent most of her career in Silicon Valley before joining USAID. The former senior engineering director at Google is now tasked with driving science, technology and innovation through a government agency."

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