“Our Agency must serve as a platform that connects the world’s biggest development challenges to development problems solvers – all around the world. We recognize that talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. – USAID Administrator Raj Shah, August 1, 2012
This Thursday, the White House launched The Presidential Innovation Fellows Program (PIF), which pairs top innovators from the private sector, non-profits and academia with top innovators in government to collaborate on solutions that aim to deliver significant results in six months. USAID is proud to be part of two pillars of the Presidential Innovation Fellows Program: the 20% Initiative, and the Open Data Initiative.
The Mobile Solutions Division at USAID is excited to welcome fellow Karl Mehta for the 20% Initiative. A Silicon Valley based entrepreneur, engineer and inventor, he has built and sold three businesses, and has worked in the intersection of media, technology and payments for years.
The 20% Initiative will create a system that supports foreign policy, development assistance, government operations or commercial activities to seamlessly move from making cash payments to electronic payments, including mobile money. The Initiative aims build greater transparency and significantly reduce fraud, and to provide cost savings for both institutions and end beneficiaries of programs through a 20% transition from cash to electronic payments by 2016. USAID is committed to supporting the integration of electronic and mobile payments in our programs and operations and starting within USAID the goal is to include as many U.S. government agencies operating overseas as possible.
The Office of Innovation and Development Alliances (IDEA) is thrilled to welcome open data fellow Nathaniel Manning. Coming from Ushahidi, a non-profit tech company specializing in free and open source software for information collection, visualization, and interactive mapping, Nathaniel has been leading the business development strategy on making the organization market sustainable.
The Open Data Initiative is part of a greater effort for the U.S. Government to serve as a platform for information and engagement to foment innovation and entrepreneurship. The term “Open Data” can include making information public, transferring information into machine-readable format so that it can be sorted and analyzed on a large scale, or cleaning up data that could be available but needs back end work. Open data has a direct benefit to individuals abroad and domestic and stimulates a rising tide of entrepreneurship, whether helping farmers share information on best practices, tracking trends in global weather patterns, monitoring elections for fraud, finding the right health care resources, or keeping families safe by knowing which products have been recalled.
The Open Data Initiative includes USAID’s Food Security Open Data Challenge. Food security experts, data scientists, technologists, and other skilled volunteers are convening to use public data sets to build innovative solutions in the field of food security and agriculture. Join us in unlocking data so people everywhere can effectively eliminate hunger for their families and their communities. All are welcome to participate!