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The results are in: Devex Top 40 Development Innovators

By Raj Kumar18 April 2011

We celebrate innovation as a means to generate faster and more sustainable global development. Photo by: Alan Cleaver / CC BY

It’s happened to all of us: Something we do one way is suddenly made more effective by an innovation. It could be a technology like webinars that changes the way we learn and train, or a new approach like open floor-plan offices that help ideas spread in a flatter corporate structure. In the field of global development there are many transformative innovations underway, from mhealth to microfinance.

These and other innovations may hold the keys to truly transformative change. That’s why as a community that cares about making the world a better place, it’s important we incentivize and celebrate innovation as a means to generate faster and more effective change for people around the world.

It’s in that light that we at Devex are delighted to present the Top 40 Development Innovators. At the core of this initiative is a survey of aid workers and international development professionals designed to recognize the most innovative of the world’s leading international development organizations. Today, the survey is complete and the results are in!

>> See the Devex Top 40 Development Innovators

The link above will direct you to the Devex Facebook page where we have published the list of 40 organizations that have been recognized. I invite you to click through the list to read more about each organization and how they pursue innovation in their work.

As you review the results and celebrate the organizations that have been recognized, here are a few things you should know:

Why innovation?

We believe innovation is critical to international development. By recognizing 40 organizations chosen by our community for their achievements in innovation, we hope to generate a conversation about the importance of innovation for international development.

Why are only large organizations among the Top 40 Development Innovators?

Much innovation in international development is happening at small organizations and start-ups. Devex has and plans to continue recognizing innovative smaller organizations. This global survey was purposely focused on only the world’s largest international development organizations. Because a global audience would have been unfamiliar with most small organizations and thus unable to rate them in a survey, our survey methodology was specifically focused on only the world’s largest international development organizations.

Which types of organizations were included in the survey?

The international development community includes many types of organizations. For this survey, we focused on only four categories: donor, implementing NGO, consultancy and advocacy group. While these categories were inclusive of most leading international development organizations, our methodology did require us to make judgments about which category best defines each organization and we did exclude some important international development stakeholders as a result. The resulting Top 40 Development Innovators list is organized by category and is based on the number of organizations in each category that were rated in the survey.

What was the survey method?

Like any survey, this one has its limitations. We surveyed professionals who are part of the Devex community. We also made judgment calls about the importance of each question in the survey, equally weighting the perception of overall innovativeness with the series of questions about specific innovation attributes.

>> The Devex Innovation Survey: How it Worked

And, even though the sample size was large – 2,149 people took the survey – there may have been self-selection bias. Finally, we included only the largest international development organizations in the survey, so small or mid-sized organizations could not have been selected. We welcome your comments about our methodology and invite you to recognize other organizations for their innovativeness by joining the conversation on the Devex Facebook page.

How can I add my voice to the conversation and highlight other organizations doing innovative work?

We hope this initiative will encourage all of us to consider how we are incorporating innovation in our own work. If you have a story, idea, or innovation to share, please join the conversation on Facebook or on Twitter using #innov8dev. Please join our live Twitter chat on innovation for global development 5-7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Thursday, April 21 using #innov8dev.

Please also check out and contribute to our Innovators Blog, where you can find posts from ONE, the Millennium Challenge Corp., TechnoServe and others about innovation for global development. And watch out for coverage of the Devex Innovators Forum, an exclusive event to celebrate the Top 40 Development Innovators featuring Intel Corp. Chief Strategist Christopher S. Thomas. You can find out more about this initiative and the upcoming forum by visiting our media partner GOOD magazine.

Devex is committed to promoting innovation in global development and to providing you, our members, with coverage of the latest international development innovations. Thank you for learning more about this initiative, and congratulations to the 40 organizations selected by our global community!

About the author

Raj kumar 400x400
Raj Kumar

Raj Kumar is president & editor-in-chief of Devex. His professional experiences include working on nine presidential campaigns in the U.S. and overseas, co-founding a successful financial media company and leading Devex – a role that has led him to more than 50 countries where he has had the honor to meet many of the aid workers and development professionals who make up the Devex community.


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