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Press Release: iDE shares its secrets to achieving impact and scale

The market-based organization launches an online knowledge hub that dives deep into 10 years of learnings and insights in building markets for WASH

April 29, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 30 April 2019
CONTACT: KC Koch, iDE Vice President of Global Communications & Marketing, kkoch@ideglobal.org


DENVER, CO—After building one of the most successful market-based sanitation programs in the world, iDE is sharing its secrets to achieving impact and scale.

iDE, a Denver-based international nonprofit working to end poverty, launches a knowledge hub for market-based development professionals and enthusiasts, publishing over 10 years of learnings and insights from building markets for WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) in developing countries around the world.

Explore: washmarkets.ideglobal.org

“Critical for our own continued learning, even though it was not required by any donor, we decided we needed to write down, analyze, and reflect on the body of experience and evidence from our sanitation marketing program. However, instead of the dreaded 100-page report, we decided to conduct this reflection and learning in a modern, dynamic way where others can be invited in to poke around and ask questions.” 

— Yi Wei, iDE Director of Global WASH

iDE’s rigorous evidence and distilled insights highlight five key findings:

  • Markets can be effectively leveraged to reach the poorest and most vulnerable populations.
  • Product and business model design must start with a deep understanding of customer needs, and recognition that customers and their needs may change as the market evolves. 
  • Iterative, data-driven programming is required to keep pace with rapid market changes. 
  • Business and consumer financing are critical to deliver inclusive results, but nascent and dysfunctional markets mean that implementers must be creative in designing workable solutions. 
  • Sanitation marketing and behavior change toward consistent latrine use can positively impact health.

The site primarily focuses on learnings from iDE’s sanitation program in Cambodia, which has facilitated the sale of 309,692 latrines (as of January 2019), improving coverage from 29% in 2012 to 69% today. Learnings from iDE’s other sanitation programs in Ghana, Ethiopia, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Vietnam will be added later this year and next.

iDE’s site shows that market-based development requires constant innovation and iteration, which are not without hard-won lessons. Flexible, supportive partnerships are also critical to create the space to experiment, innovate, and learn adaptively. iDE opens its doors to share this history and experience in a spirit of collaboration and learning. 

"Causal Design partners with iDE because they are committed to learning, not just evaluating programs. We are really proud of iDE's intentional integration of our research results into their operational model, commitment to knowledge management, and their transparency in success and failure. Through this all, we've been able to find evidence-based and market-driven approaches to drive decisions in WASH programming."

— Keith B. Ives, Co-Founder and CEO of Causal Design

“The goal of the microsite is not to stand as a static repository of knowledge, but rather, to serve as a conversation starter. We hope visitors will be inspired to unpack assumptions, reconcile evidence with theory, and share with us their reactions.” 

— Yi Wei, iDE Director of Global WASH

About iDE

Founded by life entrepreneur Paul Polak in 1982, iDE uses the power of business to solve poverty. Working in agriculture; water, sanitation, and hygiene; and access to finance, iDE creates opportunities for low-income people to form businesses and support market solutions that bring transformational products and services to people living on less than $2 per day.

iDE is a 501(c)3 organization based in Denver, Colorado with offices in London, England and Winnipeg, Canada. It operates programs in eleven countries—five in Africa (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, and Zambia), four in Asia (Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, and Vietnam), and two in Central America (Honduras and Nicaragua). With a current operating budget of $30 million, iDE has 1,100 staff, 96 percent of whom live in the countries they support and 93 percent of whom are citizens of those nations.