The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is investing in a handful of social ventures in hopes of injecting the global anti-poverty bureaucracy with a shot of Silicon Valley savvy and energy, writes the Los Angeles Times. The federal agency has started labs at seven major universities to incubate start-ups with the potential to achieve economic viability while developing new approaches to alleviating poverty and hunger.
The article focuses on Gram Power, which has received $1-million from USAID. The firm aims to erect clusters of solar panels in rural India, providing cheap, renewable electricity to impoverished regions that are not reached by the country's power grid.
"The old model was we need something built, we hire a contractor," USAID head Rajiv Shah said. "The new model is solve these huge and challenging problems with innovators and entrepreneurs who can come together and create the kind of solutions that can scale up to reach tens of millions of households."