Researcher, Development Innovation Ventures (DIV), USAID Catalyst Project

  • Posted on 11 September 2020
  • Washington, D.C., District of Columbia, United States
  • Closing on 25 September 2020

Job Description

Background and Objectives:

In April 2014, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the U.S. Global Development Lab, a new entity that brings together a diverse set of partners to discover, test, and scale solutions that will help achieve the Agency’s goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.

In support of its efforts to promote innovative programming within the agency, the Lab awarded the Catalyst contract to Resonance in September 2018. Through this contract, Resonance provides support to Development Innovation Ventures (DIV). DIV seeks to bring in new ideas for solving problems facing millions around the world - delivering more impact, for less money, with greater potential for sustainable scale. To date, DIV has awarded 200+ grants, valued over $150M+ that cover a range of geographies and development sectors.

As an innovation funder with an appetite for smart risk-taking, DIV does not expect each of its investments to achieve impact at sustainable scale for millions of people. Rather, much like the venture capital approach that inspired its creation, DIV takes a portfolio-level approach to its impact, investing small amounts in a variety of relatively unproven ideas and making large investments only in those that demonstrate rigorous evidence of impact, cost-effectiveness, and potential to scale and be sustained. This approach allows for risk at early stages and mitigates risk at later stages, ensuring development dollars are targeted to the most cost-effective innovations. In order to understand the portfolio level impact, DIV produced a report that assessed the social rate of return of five DIV grantees during the period of 2010-2012.

The purpose of this consultancy is to build upon research on DIV’s social rate of return and determinants of scaling (Banerjee, Duflo and Kremer (2016); Kremer, Gallant, Rostapshova, Thomas (2018). The incumbent will work closely with Michael Kremer, DIV Scientific Director, to carry out several tasks to update, expand and revise the social rate of return research.

Project Description:

The Catalyst Project, led by Resonance, is a 5-year (two base years, 3 option years), $24 million-dollar contract. The Catalyst Project is a flexible buy-in mechanism that provides institutional support and technical assistance in the design and implementation of innovation and challenge programs. Catalyst provides support to development innovation ventures (DIV).

This consultant will be hired through the Catalyst project to support DIV research.

Task and Responsibilities:

The consultant will undertake the following tasks:

1) Update scale estimates and characteristics of awards in DIV’s historical portfolio based on verifiable public data and grantee interviews.

2) Update and extend analysis of the determinants of scale.

3) Model social returns generated by all innovations for which benefits can potentially be quantified that have scaled to over one million users. This requires constructing detailed scale and financial time series data for the innovations and analyzing experimental results on their impacts.

4) Explore generalizability of findings by conducting research on social returns and determinants of scaling for some development investments other entities.

5) Prepare presentations and other communication materials related to the Scientific Director’s research.

6) Conduct first and second round reviews (R1 and R2) of DIV’s EOI on an ad-hoc basis.

7) Conduct sensitivity analyses (concerning DALY valuation and impact coefficients) on the social return measures.

8) Work with the Scientific Director to prepare presentations on these topics.

9) Other duties as assigned.


An update of Kremer et al. (2018) that incorporates findings from Tasks 1-8 above.

Duration and Level of Effort (LOE):

The consultant is expected to compete this work in no more than 35 days (estimated 10 hours per week) between Sept 11, 2020-March 11, 2021; extendable upon mutual agreement)

Skills and Experience:

Strong quantitative, meta-analysis, and cost benefit analysis skills. Completed Ph.D. level coursework in Microeconomics, Econometrics, and Statistics required. Experience with grantee interviews, literature reviews, randomized controlled trials, and development finance. Data visualization skills preferred.

Reporting and Communication:

The Consultant will work under the technical direction of Michael Kremer, DIV Scientific Director.

The Consultant will report to Stephen Rahaim, Chief of Party (COP) of the Catalyst Project. The Consultant will inform the COP of all tasks assigned by Michael Kremer prior to expending LOE, and keep the COP copied on all communications that effect how the consultants time is used. In addition, the Consultant will copy the COP on the submission of major technical reports or findings completed under this contract.

Additionally, the Consultant may engage with other Catalyst or USAID staff involved in the DIV program.

About the Organization

Resonance is an award-winning frontier market solutions firm based in Burlington, Vermont that helps a variety of donor, commercial and investor clients around the world to catalyze lasting impact. We envision a prosperous and just world of thriving markets, healthy ecosystems, and vibrant communities where business, governments and citizens work together creating a better world for all. Resonance seeks to catalyze large-scale social, environmental, and economic change by fostering new and dynamic forms of collaboration. We do this by fostering public-private partnerships, facilitating sustainable investment, and providing deep analytical insights in frontier markets. We strive to merge strategic insight with practical on-the-ground knowledge into an integrated approach that emphasizes results. We seek candidates who are ready to apply their analytical and problem-solving skills to some of our planet’s greatest challenges in an entrepreneurial, fun, and fast-paced environment. We are looking for passionate and committed people who can work in a highly collaborative environment to deliver results for our clients and stakeholders around the world.

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