Sonal Shah is Featured Speaker to Kick Off DAI Innovation Week

October 17, 2014

Sonal Shah, founding Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, will be the featured speaker during DAI Innovation Week October 27–31.

Shah, who headed development initiatives at Goldman Sachs and Google, served as Deputy Assistant to President Obama from April 2009 to August 2011. She is Executive Director of the Beeck Center for Social Impact & Innovation at Georgetown University. Shah will address DAI staff on October 28 at the company headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland.

Innovation Week is part of a yearlong celebration of original thinking and implementation throughout DAI, which currently is managing approximately 150 projects in 85 countries. “Our goal is to harvest and scale ideas that can have a significant development impact,” said James Boomgard, DAI’s CEO and President. For the Innovation Challenge, DAI’s project staff submitted 92 innovations to share throughout the company. Examples include Sharia-compliant loans that cater to female farming entrepreneurs in Afghanistan; an online system to manage grants in real time, as demonstrated on a project to support staple food markets in East Africa; and “artivism,” a combination of art and activism designed to engage marginalized young people in the politics of post-transition Tunisia.

Innovation Week will also feature the five projects that made it to the final round:

Pacific Islands Coastal Community Adaptation Project, a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) project that created open source, community-level planning maps used by vulnerable islands to prepare for severe weather.

  • Pakistan Education Fund (Ilm Ideas), a U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) program that has produced high-capacity “edupreneurs” who are delivering scalable, market-driven education solutions.
  • Transforming Education in Pakistan, another DFID education project whose nationwide data platform rates school districts in areas such as grades, security, water and toilets, enrollment, and gender equity; the data is available to parents and politicians alike and has spurred competition between districts to move up in the education rankings.
  • Honduras ProParque, a USAID project whose collaborative approach to land tenure in protected natural areas has led to agreement and cooperation between residents, business, and the government.
  • Land Tenure Reform in East Africa—DAI’s work for DFID in Rwanda formalized and guaranteed land ownership and was named Outstanding International Development Project 2014 by the London-based trade organization British Expertise.

The finalists will present to a panel of judges, including: Dave Ferguson, Director, Center for Development Innovation, US Global Development Lab, USAID; Jean Gilson, DAI Senior Vice President for Strategy, Marketing, and IT; Caesar Layton, Founder, Cultivate Ventures; Dale Pfeifer—CEO, GoodWorld; and Arif Zulfiqar, former Director of the World Bank Global Partnerships & Trust Fund Operations, and former Chair of the grants committee for the $500+million Japan Social Development Fund. The winner will be announced October 29.

Follow news throughout Innovation Week via DAI’s Twitter using the #DAInnovate hashtag and on Facebook.

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