Challenge funds, grant funds and managed funds are used increasingly by international development agencies and other partners to support poverty reduction initiatives undertaken by civil society organisations and businesses. IPE Global provides a comprehensive range of grant and challenge fund management services. Our experience covers both business-oriented enterprise challenge funds and those oriented towards civil society and social development. We have experience of supporting all stages of the fund management cycle including fund design, calls for proposals, appraisal and selection of candidates, performance and risk management, financial management, procurement, capacity strengthening and monitoring, evaluation and learning.
We have worked on funding schemes financed by a range of agencies in a number of sectors including governance, poverty reduction, health and private sector development. Our clients include donors and agencies such as DFID, IFAD, Sida, DANIDA, DFAT and AGRA as well as foundations such as MasterCard and the Standard Chartered Bank.
We recognise the importance of carefully tailoring the design of challenge funds to meet donors’ development objectives and the particular importance of designing calls for proposals to manage the volume and quality of applications. We also understand the critical importance of establishing open and supportive relationships with the recipients of funding and creating a productive balance between compliance, risk management and constructive support for successful project delivery.
Click here to read more...
The Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity (FRP) is a USD 50 million Challenge Fund which aims to help 1,000,000 rural people in Sub-Saharan Africa to move out of poverty through improving their access to financial products & services. We are assisting FRP’s Fund Manager in the monitoring and results measurement of the Fund. We are responsible for the development of the overall theory of change and results framework, and has worked with FRP’s partners to develop results measurement tools (e.g. results chains, beneficiary models, and KPIs) to measure the ongoing impact of their interventions. As part of assignment, we conducted annual field visits to grantees to track their business performance and the impact on financial inclusion for the target beneficiaries, eight rigorous impact studies looking at the project’s impact on beneficiary resilience, satisfaction, income and indirect job creation.
USAID defines Grand Challenges as multi-year partnership platforms, requiring a minimum investment of $15 million for USAID and its partners, and focusing global attention and resources on specific, well defined international development problems and promote innovative approaches, processes, and solutions to solving them. This is achieved by sourcing new solutions, testing new ideas, and scaling what works. We are undertaking a meta-evaluation of 10 Grand Challenges implemented since 2011, to systematically reflect on experience and generate an actionable evidence base to support future programming. The assignment includes the development of practical strategies and frameworks to measure the impact and results of Grand Challenges; assessing the feasibility of measuring the cost-effectiveness of Grand Challenge approach and comparing to alternatives; and identifying the most effective ways of supporting the scaling of innovations.
‘Futuremakers by Standard Chartered’ is a new global initiative launched as part of SCB’s Global Community Programmes strategy. Futuremakers tackles the issue of inequality and seeks to promote greater economic inclusion. It focuses on supporting disadvantaged young people from low-income households, particularly girls and people with visual impairments and it takes a holistic approach to promote greater economic inclusion by supporting beneficiaries at different stages in their lives, from the life skills they learn at school, to the skills they need to apply for a first job or to set up a business. We are supporting the development of a monitoring and evaluation framework for programme as well as the tools and systems required for its implementation. This includes the preparation of written guidelines; the facilitation of workshops to strengthen monitoring and evaluation capacities, and the design and roll out of a basic management information system.
Sida has been funding challenge funds since 2007, to an estimated value of SEK 2,000 million. Challenge funds offer Sida the opportunity and flexibility to support civil society and private sector initiatives to develop innovative solutions to development problems. Close to 60% of Sida funding is distributed through global challenge funds. We conducted a meta-evaluation of 10 global challenge funds in the Sida portfolio, using a utilisation-focused approach. The underlying principle was to learn from the experience of implementing a portfolio of global challenge funds and to test Sida’s rationale and fundamental assumptions for the use of challenge funds in development cooperation. During the course of the evaluation, individual funds were assessed against a number of design and performance criteria; taking a meta, portfolio-wide view of the challenge funds as a whole, drawing on examples and learnings from different funds. The evaluation broadened the evidence base informing decisions on when, and in which contexts challenge funds are appropriate and how they should be managed. This ensured the evaluation served not only the practical information needs of Sida, its donor partners and the Fund Managers, but also, the broader development community with an interest in challenge funds.
SPHEIR is DFID’s flagship intervention in higher education, providing grant-funding support for ambitious and high-value partnerships between institutions, NGOs and private sector organisations to transform the quality, relevance, inclusiveness and value of Higher Education (HE) in 11 countries of Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
As an evaluation manager, we are reviewing SPHEIR in order to get a better understanding of what design aspects make HE interventions successful; and to improve the body of knowledge on the longer-term impacts of HE strengthening. This includes three principal strands: (i) conducting a formative evaluation covering all stages of the fund management cycle; (ii) conducting a baseline and two summative evaluations: one mid-term evaluation and one final theory-based impact evaluation; and (iii) conducting linked primary and secondary research including two Rapid Evidence Assessments or similar rigorous literature reviews.
Amplify was a 6-year accountable grant partnership between DFID and IDEO.org, a not-for-profit organisation specialising in human-centred design. Amplify’s core goal was to test new and innovative funding mechanisms in order to make small initial investments, provide design support to organisations to test and iterate on new ideas, and identify replicable, effective solutions that respond directly to human needs.
We conducted an independent evaluation of Amplify programme.The evaluation used a wide range of evidence sources, including an innovative case study approach, to set out both strategic and programmatic conclusions and recommendations. This enabled DFID and its development partners to better understand the benefits and value for money of more flexible and agile, design-centred approaches to developing programmes, particularly humancentred design. The evaluation also assessed and identified the components of the Amplify programme that had the potential to achieve better and more relevant solutions to deliver greater depth and breadth of impact for people living in poverty.
DFID’s UK Aid Match programme is designed to support civil society projects contributing to the achievement of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development and to engage the UK public with international development issues. DFID matches funds raised through public appeals, thereby enabling the public to have a say in how a portion of the international development budget is spent. We worked with DFID’s Inclusive Societies Department in the management of the fund, providing support in the appraisal of concept notes and proposals and project selection.
DFID’s Health Partnership Scheme (HPS) supports partnerships between UK health institutions and those in low income countries. HPS uses the expertise of UK health professionals and institutions to build capacity of their counterparts in developing countries and also, intended to bring back benefits to UK institutions, with NHS volunteers returning with enhanced skills, motivation and confidence. Since it began in 2011, over 1,000 NHS health workers have volunteered with projects across 26 countries in Africa and Asia. We undertook a summative evaluation of HPS to examine the health partnership model that has been implemented in the programme. We conducted a systematic, in-depth analysis of the qualitative aspects that facilitated wider lesson learning about capacity building of health workers in developing countries and the reciprocal benefits to partnerships in UK. The evaluation used a participatory design process that built on and expanded existing review mechanisms and involved key stakeholders to ensure buy-in and support for learning.
The Global Poverty Action Fund aimed to bring about tangible changes to the lives of poor people and address off-track Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The fund supported both UK and overseas-based civil society initiatives in empowerment, accountability and capacity strengthening as well as service delivery and innovation. Projects were selected on their ability to demonstrate real and positive changes to the lives of poor people (men and women). We worked closely with DFID to manage the evolution of this £141 million fund, which supported 182 projects over five years. Our services included the development of the programmatic framework, development of grantee selection and approval mechanisms, financial management, risk management and quality assurance, monitoring, evaluation and learning and strengthening the capacity of civil society organisations in results measurement, financial management and programming for gender equality and social inclusion.
The EEP/Shiree Programme was an £84 million programme that included two challenge funds (scale and innovation), a comprehensive academic research programme and strategic advocacy. The programme aimed to lift over a million people out of extreme poverty, to deepen knowledge and improve practices to address extreme poverty (for women, men, girls and boys) and to bring about strategic policy change at national and sub-national levels. The findings and lessons from our evaluation contributed to the design of DFID’s follow-on initiative particularly in the areas of approaches to results measurement, the way in which innovation is supported, and the design of strategic and more action oriented research to inform practice and policy advocacy.
The Civil Society Challenge Fund (CSCF) was established to provide support to civil society to empower poor and marginalised people (women & men) to increase their voice in decisions that affect their lives thereby improving their socio-economic well-being through service delivery in difficult conditions. Grant-funded projects were implemented by UK-based Civil Society Organisations, in partnership with approximately 300 formal and informal organisations in Africa, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East.
We became CSCF’s Fund Manager in 2010, after several years of providing technical assistance, advisory services and monitoring and evaluation for the fund. As Fund Manager, we supported 170 projects with a total value of more than £51 million.
The DFID Arab Partnership Fund (APF) is a £110 million fund jointly managed by DFID and FCO over four years. There are two funding windows: the £70 million Arab Partnership Economic Facility to support inclusive and sustainable economic growth, managed and funded by DFID; and the £40 million Arab Partnership Participation Fund to support political reform and civil society, managed by the FCO (with £20 million funding from DFID). The programme covers a broad spread of issues: from constitutional drafting to rural women’s enterprises in poultry keeping and hairdressing. We carried out this complex evaluation to assess how effective the fund was in delivering its planned outcomes, and the relevance of these outcomes to the needs of countries in transition.
The Arab Women’s Enterprise Fund (AWEF) was a five-year initiative financed by the Department of International Development (DFID) and Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to address barriers to women’s economic inclusion in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region. We prepared a detailed project design for the Fund, including a theory of change and indicative logical framework, based on an analysis of the regional context and barriers to women’s economic empowerment, as well as extensive consultation with key stakeholders. We also developed management, governance and monitoring & evaluation arrangements for the fund.
The Government of Sierra Leone and the World Bank have established a US$12m fund which aims to promote smallholder commercialization by fostering productive business linkages between smallholder farmers and selected agribusiness firms and other agricultural commodity buyers in Sierra Leone. The Sierra Leone Agribusiness Development Fund (SLADF) provides agribusinesses with competitive value chain finance tailored to their needs and required for the provision of productivity enhancing services and market access to out-growers. The project will target four commodity value-chains (rice, cocoa, oil palm and poultry). We are the monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) partner for the SLADF, providing support to the Fund Manager KPMG IDAS. We were responsible for the design of the Fund’s monitoring and evaluation framework and processes, and as the portfolio matures will be responsible for M&E data collection and annual learning site visits - including workshops and focus groups to gather data from grantees and smallholder farmers.
The Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF), launched in 2011, was one of the first funds for humanitarian action specifically designed to enable innovative ideas to be developed and tested. Grant funding is structured around a five-stage innovation model (recognition > invention > development > implementation > diffusion). We were responsible for independent evaluation of HIF. The evaluation examined HIF’s performance in identifying and supporting innovation since its launch including through its learning, dissemination and communication activities; the external and internal factors which had supported its performance; and how effectively HIF’s grant-making processes had supported its aims. The evaluation provided accountability to stakeholders; supported learning about how the HIF’s processes support or hinder effectiveness; and contributed to strategic development.
The AECF uses the Challenge Fund model to stimulate private sector entrepreneurs to innovate and find profitable ways of improving access to markets and the ways markets function for the poor, particularly in rural areas. We worked in partnership with the Fund Manager, KPMG, to measure results including quantitative and qualitative analysis of the impacts on men, women, girls and boys in rural poor households. We conducted a comprehensive gender review of the AECF and provided guidance for gender mainstreaming in the next phase.
Katalyst is a market development project that aims to contribute to improving the income of poor women and men in rural areas of Bangladesh. It does this by facilitating changes in services, inputs and product markets, which in turn increase the competitiveness of farmers and small enterprises. In the final phase of the programme Katalyst introduced an innovation fund delivery model to solicit innovative ideas from private sector and other facilitating organisations to support strategic development in a range of agribusiness–related sectors. We completed an external review of the programme including recommendations on the design of challenge funds to support M4P (Making Markets Work for the Poor) programmes.
Trademark is a multi-donor funded organisation promoting trade and economic integration in East Africa. TMEA is working on a wide variety of programmes and projects including infrastructure development, organisational development and reform, civil society and private sector advocacy campaigns and organisational development of civil society. We refined the theory of change and developed a strategic level results framework to link individual project results chains to country programmes and overall strategic framework. The results framework has been introduced by TMEA across 6 countries in East Africa.
To view complete project list, click here.
Chilika Development Authority, Government of OdishaView Case Study
Department for International Development (DFID), UKView Case Study
To view all case studies, click here