News of the Scaling Up Community of Practice

Sectoral and Thematic Working Groups Update

Four Working Groups on scaling up in regard to selected topics are now active under the umbrella of the Scaling Up Community of Practice. In addition, we have linked with the Community of Practice on Systematic Approaches to Scale-Up of Family Planning/Reproductive Health Best Practices, as noted in Newsletter #4. Below is a summary of the initiatives currently underway. If you would like to join one or more of these Working Groups, please contact the lead organizers noted in the second column.

Working Group TopicWorking Group CoordinatorsBrief Description
Scaling up in educationMolly Eberhardt (R4D)

Caitlin Moss
The Education Working Group held its first in-person, annual meeting on April 20, 2016. The meeting highlighted several new pieces of work from member organizations, including Brookings’ Millions Learning report and Journeys to Scale, a report on scaling up education innovations from R4D’s Center for Education Innovations (CEI) and UNICEF that will be published this fall. In an effort to avoid duplication, participants at the meeting also discussed and informally mapped the work of parallel scaling up initiatives, including the International Development Innovation Alliance (IDIA), which is also led by R4D. Additionally, members identified several topics of interest for future meetings, including: the unintended consequences of a focus on scale, the role of organizations in scaling, scaling education in fragile states, maintaining quality and fidelity in scaling, and sustainably funding scaled interventions. The group also expressed interest in collaborating on blog posts related to scale.
The first post, “Innovating is the Easy Part,” written by Larry Cooley of MSI, was published in April on the CEI blog.
Scaling up in fragile statesLarry Cooley (MSI)

Jonathan Papoulidis (World Vision)
The Fragile States Working Group held its first meeting on May 17, 2016. The meeting was organized around a discussion paper that identified features that distinguish scaling in fragile states from scaling up in other contexts, issues related to disrupted delivery platforms, political considerations, time horizons, and aid architecture. The list of distinguishing
characteristics, amended and elaborated based on the discussion, will be the foundation for future sessions of the Working Group and for a joint paper currently being drafted by World Vision and MSI.
Scaling up in agriculture and rural development (ARD)Maria Elena Mangiafico (IFAD)
WG members from IFAD, TechnoServe, IFPRI, Heifer International, USAID, MSI and Syngenta Foundation met on June 28, 2016 to touch base and share progress and challenges in their work on scaling up in agricultural and rural development.
During the meeting Simon Winter gave participants a preview on the paper being prepared on his work on the potential
use of multi-stakeholder initiatives to support scaling up of adaptation practices in agriculture. USAID briefed the group on
the upcoming workshop on Scaling Up Agricultural Innovations through commercial pathways held on July 13, 2016. The workshop examined five case studies of successful scaling up of agricultural technologies. In addition to sharing its own experiences, USAID was looking for exchanges with invited experts from development organizations, implementing agencies and the private sector in order to shape the future of the Feed the Future Program in terms of having a greater impact and outreach. More about the ARD WG can be found on the web platform:
Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) for scaling upLarry Cooley (MSI)

Fred Mills (MSI)
The Monitoring and Evaluation Working Group had its second meeting on June 9th. In addition to information sharing, the call featured a presentation by Larry Cooley on “assessing scalability” based on a blogpost “Innovating is the Easy Part,”
on the same topic and focusing on practical ways to address scalability in feasibility analysis, progress evaluation, and
impact evaluation. The session also included a “lighting survey” of participants’ views on the optimal allocation of resources to monitoring, evaluation and communication in innovative pilot projects. The consensus of the group was that the optimal allocation was 20-25% of total project funds.

Member News

Brookings (Impact bonds)

Emily Gustafsson-Wright and Sophie Gardiner of the Brookings Center for Universal Education’s (CUE) published a blog on July 13, 2016 on the role impact bonds in achieving global development goals. (http://www.brookings. edu/blogs/future-development/posts/2016/07/13-role-ofimpact-bonds-achieving-global-goals-gustafsson-wrightgardiner) The blog concludes that: “Impact bonds are likely to be improve effectiveness of financing rather than increasing volume. They also serve an important role in financing mid-scale interventions with some evidence of effectiveness. While they may not be best suited to largescale financing of social services, they have the potential to affect large-scale systemic shifts in how governments and service providers think about service provision because they build cultures of monitoring and evaluation, encourage investments in prevention, and incentivize collaboration, all of which are essential to achieving the SDGs.”

Contact: Emily Gustafsson-Wright , egustafssonwright@

Brookings (Education)

CUE completed the first phase of the Millions Learning project with an intensive dissemination program worldwide for its report, Millions Learning: Scaling up quality education in developing countries. Phase two of the project (Millions Learning 2.0) is now starting with plans to focus on operationalizing a number of the report’s recommendations, including through: the establishment of Real-time Scaling Labs that will provide space for ongoing experimentation and peer-to-peer learning; development of Idea Hubs to translate experimentation and evidence into policy recommendations within countries; and research on financing the “middle phase” of the scaling learning process.

Contact: Jenny Perlman Robinson,

ExpandNet (Reproductive health)

ExpandNet is working with partners on the USAID-funded Evidence to Action (E2A) Project to conduct a comparative analysis of how the tool “Beginning with the end in mind: Planning pilot projects and other programmatic research for successful scaling up” is being applied in eight sub-Saharan countries. The analysis is expected to distill key learning about how to plan and implement global health and development programs for greater success with scaling up. Simultaneously, ExpandNet is conducting a retrospective analysis of the BMGF-funded urban reproductive health initiative (URHI) projects in four countries – India, Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal – to help identify which activities and approaches were most influential in producing the impressive results and what has been learned about moving towards sustainable scale up of interventions. It is expected that the lessons learned will produce actionable recommendations which can help guide future scale up of URHI and other projects funded by the Foundation and other donors. ExpandNet will continue to support the urban reproductive health initiatives to strategically plan and manage the scaling-up process in the context of a new three-year BMGF grant.

Contact: Laura Ghiron and Ruth Simmons, and

Management Systems International (MSI) (Agriculture)

MSI is supporting USAID’s Bureau for Food Security (through the Agency’s E3 Analytics and Evaluation Project) to study cases of successful commercial scaling of agricultural innovations in developing countries. The overall objective is to provide lessons and help develop guidance that will inform how USAID can create the foundations and pre-conditions for commercial scaling of Feed the Future innovations in order to “hand off” the lead role to the private sector in driving the scaling up process. Cases include hybrid maize in Zambia, irrigated rice in Senegal, Improved Storage (PICS) Bags in Kenya, agricultural machinery services in Bangladesh, and Kuroiler chickens in Uganda.  The results of these case studies were presented and debated in intensive seminars held on July 13 and 14.  The MSI team will be preparing a synthesis report for USAID examining lessons learned from the case studies and recommendations for the Agency, which is expected to be available in September 2016.

Contact: Larry Cooley,

Management Systems International (MSI) and IMAGO Global Grassroots

Larry Cooley (MSI) and Isabel Guerrero (IMAGO) published a paper called “The Broken Part of the Business Model in Taking Innovation to Scale.” uploads/BrokenPart_final.pdf.

The paper aims to deepen understanding of the critical role intermediation functions play in scaling up, with particular emphasis on organizations and outcomes at the base of the pyramid.  It includes an example drawn from Isabel’s work with SEWA, seeks to explain the reasons many solid innovations are never scaled, and makes the case for additional donor attention to strengthening key intermediation functions supporting scaling.

Contact: Larry Cooley and Isabel Guerrero, LCooley@msi-inc. com and

Results for Development Institute (R4D) (Scaling up methods and health)

R4D is serving as the secretariat for the International Development Innovation Alliance (IDIA), a partnership of 12 international development organizations formed in 2015 with the goal of actively promoting and effectively advancing innovation as a means to help achieve sustainable development through a) sharing knowledge, experience and insights, b) identifying and addressing gaps in the innovation ecosystem, and c) collaborating to develop public goods that support innovation, including pooling resources as appropriate. As part of its work IDIA has initiated the “Pathways to Scale” project, which is to equip funders/donors with the knowledge and tools they need to optimize their navigation, resource allocation and decision-making capacity in support of and along the often unpredictable journey from innovation to scale. A first report will propose a common framework for how funders can think about scaling pathways in general, and highlight the key questions they need to ask at different stages to help optimize scaling and apply this framework in an exploration of scaling up pathways in a specific sectoral context (health) and with regard to a particular target group (the Base of the Pyramid, or BoP).

Contact: Thomas Feeney and Johannes Linn, and

Results for Development Institute (R4D) (Learning processes and WASH)

Millions of dollars are invested each year in events and programs designed to facilitate the learning process in international development, but little is understood about the process of taking a new idea (including “best practices”) and successfully implementing it into a program or organization. R4D calls this “the Monday morning problem”: if a program manager attends a learning event, what barriers do they face when they return to work on Monday morning and try to implement the new ideas they learned? In 2014, R4D, with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, began working with in-country implementers of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs to provide learning opportunities, and at the same time try to better understand the barriers these programs face when trying to implement new ideas acquired through structured learning moments. R4D, with regional partners Dasra and the Millennium Water Alliance (MWA), created the WASH Impact Network. The WASH Impact Network is designed to identify innovative WASH programs in India and East Africa and connect them to each other with the intention of spurring collaboration and knowledge sharing. The WASH Impact Network builds on existing programs at R4D in the health and education sectors, including the Center for Health Market Innovations (CHMI) and the Center for Education Innovations (CEI).  For more about the lessons learned about learning, see: uploadsBarriers_to_Implementing_New_Ideas_Final_Draft.pdf

Contact: Emily Endres

The World Bank (A new Chief Economist’s views on RCTs and scaling up)

The World Bank announced the appointment of a new Chief Economist, Paul Romer, currently a professor at New York University (NYU), Director of NYU’s Marron Institute of Urban Management, and a professor of economics in NYU’s Stern School of Business. He is best know for his work on economic growth and urban development. ( news/press-release/2016/07/18/world-bank-group-presidentappoints-paul-romer-as-chief-economist) The Financial Times on July 16 commented: “[Paul Romer] has accused advocates of using randomised control trials to determine how best to help people in poor countries of being blinded by their own obsession with data, putting him at odds with powerful advocates of data-driven development policy such as Bill Gates. In a blog post last year titled “Botox for Development” based on a talk he gave at the World Bank, he likened advocates of randomised control trials to a doctor prescribing Botox to a cancer patient to help him look younger even as he faced almost certain death. Too often, he argued, the need for data to prove a theory led economists in the path of small ideas and projects rather than bigger bolder ones whose eventual impact on poverty were exponentially larger. “Our goal should be to recommend treatments and policies that maximise the expected return, not to make the safest possible treatment and policy recommendations,” he wrote. “We have to weigh the trade-offs we face between getting precise answers about such policies as setting up women’s self-help groups [against] other policies [like] facilitating urbanisation or migration that offer returns that are uncertain but have an expected value that is larger by many orders of magnitude.”

World Bank and Brookings (Social enterprise innovation)

Brookings published a working paper on “Scaling up social enterprise innovations: Approaches and lessons” by Natalia Agapitova and Johannes Linn, produced in connection with research sponsored by the World Bank.

The paper reviews frameworks and approaches for a systematic process of scaling up successful, sustainable development interventions. A special focus of the paper is how to scale up social enterprise innovations that have demonstrated effective supply of social services for the poorest people in developing countries. The paper provides a menu of approaches that can be used in assessing scaling up potential and in supporting the scaling up process of social enterprises, and it draws lessons from practical experience, including selected case examples. The paper closes with a postscript of implications for external aid donors.

Contact: Natalia Agapitova and Johannes Linn, nagapitova@ and


Publications and Blogs

We list here selected publications that have come across our desks and that we think you might be interested in. They deal with scaling up successful development innovations across a wide range of topics. The brief summaries are drawn from the abstracts or summaries in the original documents.



Larry Cooley. “Innovating Is the Easy Part.” April 20, 2016.

This blog considers the tools available for assessing innovations’ scaling potential, discusses the role of such tools in informing program design and evaluating readiness to scale, and offers several recommendations on how to think about scale.

Johannes F. Linn. “How to meet SDG and climate goals: Eight lessons for scaling up development programs.” May 10, 2016.

Based on the author’s experience in working with numerous development institutions, this blog addresses the question how such institutions can best meet the challenge of scaling up and presents eight lessons that can help them to focus systematically and effectively on scaling up in their operational work.

Dan McClure and Ian Gray. Three contributions on the subject of innovation scaling submitted for the Transformation Through Innovation Theme for the World Humanitarian Summit.

  1. “Scaling: Innovations Mission Middle.” No date.

This paper seeks to provide a framework for thinking about what blocks scaling and how to technically progress from proven idea to broad based operation.

  1. “Managing the Journey to Scale up Innovation in the Humanitarian and Development Sector.” 2015. the%20journey%20to%20scale%20up%20innovation.pdf

This paper addresses the questions on how can one effectively work in and with complexity in scaling up with case studies providing anecdotal insights into the innovation journey and the innovation ecosystem. It offers funders and practitioners a practical guide for structuring, decision-making, and management of scale up initiatives. 3. “Engineering complex Scaled Up Innovations in the Humanitarian and Development Sector.” No date.   

This paper expands upon the Scale Up journey by looking at the architecture and process of Scaling Up innovation itself. If the prior paper was about management, this is about engineering. The authors look at how a lightweight pilot program with many intentional gaps and compromises requires complexity to be added in to become a scaled up sustainable solution.

Ethiopis Tafara. “Doing Well by Doing Good.” Project Syndicate. June 27, 2016

This blog by an IFC vice president explores how a growing number of businesses recognize that today’s formula for success includes a focus on pressing societal needs. The author argues that the trick is to address those needs in ways that are profitable and sustainable in the long run, and then, when a beneficial business solution is identified, to work together to facilitate its large-scale deployment.

Calestous Juma, “Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technologies.” Oxford University Press, 2016

Explains the roots of resistance to new technologies – and why such resistance is not always futile; draws on nearly 600 years of economic history to show how the balance of winners and losers shapes technological controversies; outlines policy strategies for inclusive innovation to reduce the risks and maximize the benefits of new technologies Ariel Tseitlin. “What My Three Years At Netflix Taught Me About Scaling A Startup.” April 21, 2016. etter&campaign_date=04212016

The author of this blog Ariel Tseitlin began working on Netflix’s cloud platform in 2011. He summarizes in four lessons what it taught him about culture and high-speed innovation.



J-Pal. “Innovate, test, learn: Lab to improve education policy in Peru.” June 1, 2016

This blog reports on how Peru’s Ministry of Education is using its wealth of administrative data to quickly and inexpensively assess whether simple innovations can improve education outcomes through the Laboratory of Cost-Effective Innovations in Education Policy (MineduLAB).  Established by the Ministry, Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) Peru, and J-PAL LAC, the lab tests incremental innovations to existing education programs, primarily using administrative data that the Ministry already collects to assess their effectiveness.

J-Pal. “Teaching at the right level: Reorienting classroom instruction has improved learning opportunities for 47.7 million students in India.” No date.

This blog reports on how Pratham, the largest education-focused NGO in India, has consistently partnered with J-PAL affiliates to evaluate and refine the “Teaching at the right level” (TaRL) approach, which reaches millions of children across India. At its peak in the summer of 2008 Pratham’s flagship “Read India” campaign, which aims to improve basic literacy and numeracy for children in rural India, covered over half of the 600 districts in the country and mobilized 450,000 volunteers to reach nearly 34 million children across 19 states. Pratham has since consolidated its programming to work with students more intensively over the course of the school year. Since 2010, 13.8 million students have participated in programs based on TaRL implemented directly by Pratham or in partnership with state governments in India.

Marc Roland.  “Journeys to Scale: The topic of scaling up is stepping out.” June 13, 2016

This blog reports on the forthcoming release of the report Journeys to Scale later this summer. This report represents one prong of a broader partnership between R4D’s Center for Education Innovation (CEI) and UNICEF to support promising innovations as they endeavor to test and grow their models. The partnership was formed in 2014 as response to the challenge of identifying, among a growing set of innovations, those which may lead to not only improvements in learning, but also large-scale systems change. Drawing from UNICEF programs and the 700+ innovations found in CEI, five programs were selected to receive technical and financial support.  These five programs range from a tablet-based mathematics program in Sudan to a novel literacy and learning program in Brazil.

Boris Bulayev, Angelica Towne, and Maggie Appleton. “Asking the Small Questions to Support Big Scale.” Stanford Social Innovation Review. March 25, 2016.

This blog draws lessons from the experience of Educate!, a social enterprise that aimed to more than quadruple the scope of its operations in Africa in one year, when it found that it was suddenly the small questions—the nitty-gritty operational ones—that needed answers, including: What systems are needed to enable more frequent hiring and training for field staff? How to manage cash flow between the office and the field? How to communicate to a team spread across an entire country such as Uganda, the site of our early operations?


Early Child Development

R4D “The Early Childhood Workforce – a powerful force for scaling-up quality services for young children and their families.” R4D Education Newsletter. June 2016. FD3638C2E38ABFC8D9767B6002735221

This blog reports that, while strengthening the skills, preparation, training, and employment conditions of those who work with young children and their families is critical to improving the quality of early childhood experiences, limited attention is paid to the early childhood workforce. Professionals and paraprofessionals are too often undervalued, underpaid, and inadequately prepared. The Early Childhood Workforce Initiative, a new and growing partnership led by R4D and the International Step by Step Association (ISSA) works to support and empower those involved in the lives of young children including (but not limited to) home visitors, childcare workers, pre-school staff and community health workers, as well as supervisors, mentors, coaches and trainers.



McKinsey&Company. “Winning the fight against malaria.” Interview with United Nations’ Special Envoy for Malaria, Ray

Chambers. April 2016

Chambers discusses progress in fighting malaria and the challenges and opportunities of eradicating the disease by 2040, the official goal set in 2015.


Social enterprises

Felipe Symmes, Urs Jäger, and Arturo Rodriguez. “Moving Latin American Social Entrepreneurs to Scale.”  Stanford Social Innovation Review, March 7, 2016.

This blog reports on a study of social entrepreneurs in Latin America, based on a detailed survey of 350 social entrepreneurs in 19 countries. It reports on strengths and weaknesses of social entrepreneurs in Latin America and explores what can be done to move them to scale.



SWFF (Securing Water for Food). “Success Story: How Reel Gardening Went From an Idea to a Successful Business.” July 8.


This blog reports on the experience and prospects of a gardening innovation, pioneered by 16-year-old Claire Reed, involving seeds and fertilizer encased in strips of biodegradable boxes. “Reel Gardening’s newest initiative, the Planting Revolution campaign, is designed to build its growing momentum to inspire a love for healthy eating and growing. Supported by Unilever and Virgin Mobile and in partnership with South African Broadcast Company 2 Education, the campaign will feature 26 roadshows throughout South Africa. The goal is to distribute 20,000 Gardens-in-a-Box and engage one million children on an interactive app.”


Water and Sanitation

Louis C. Boorstin. “Scaling Up Impact.” Stanford Social Innovation Review. November 6, 2015.

The author of this blog reports on a program supported by the Gates Foundation designed to make a real difference in the lives of the poor on a large scale by funding more than 150 water, sanitation, and hygiene grants, at a total cost of more than $400 million between 2005 and 2012. From his experience of helping to make and administer many of those grants, the author gleaned several lessons in how to pursue social innovation in a scalable way.



J-PAL. “Building stable livelihoods for the ultra-poor.” Policy Bulletin, September 2015

This bulletin summarizes the results from seven randomized evaluations of the Graduation approach, a multifaceted livelihood program for the ultra-poor. This particular approach was designed by BRAC and has since been adapted in eight countries with support from the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) and the Ford Foundation. The program provided ultra-poor households with a productive asset, training, regular coaching, access to savings, and consumption support led to large and lasting impacts on their standard of living across a diverse set of contexts and implementing partners.

A video interview with David Evans, Senior Economist, The World Bank. “Determining if your program is having a positive impact (i.e., impact evaluation 101).” Andy Feldman’s Gov Innovator. May 2, 2016.

The interview covers: (a) the concept of impact; (b) ways that organization could try to estimate impact that generally won’t be accurate; (c) three strategies to more accurately estimate program impact

  • using a lottery, aka a randomized experiment;
  • using an eligibility cutoff, aka regression discontinuity design;
  • using before and after data for both participants and nonparticipants, aka a differences-in-differences approach; (d) factors to guide the choice of one impact evaluation strategy over another.



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