USAID and Skoll Foundation Announce Joint Investment in ImazonApril 12, 2013 by Sally Farhat Kassab
Initiative Will Expand Successful Monitoring and Management System to Combat Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon
Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced today the first breakthrough social enterprise to be supported by the Innovation Investment Alliance—a new Global Development Alliance with the Skoll Foundation.
The organization, Imazon, is a non-profit that uses satellite technology to monitor and track deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. Led by seasoned entrepreneurs, Adalberto Veríssimo and Carlos Souza Jr.—both recognized leaders in rainforest conservation—Imazon also strengthens government efforts to find areas at risk for deforestation within municipalities, and motivate landowners to reduce deforestation.
“The Skoll Foundation has supported Imazon since 2010 because of its leadership in reversing deforestation in places like Paragominas, an area once considered the epicenter of Amazon destruction,” said Sally Osberg, President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation. “With this grant from USAID and the Skoll Foundation’s own investment in the initiative, Imazon will scale their efforts in the Brazilian state of Para, an area three times the size of California.”
Under the Innovation Investment Alliance, USAID and Skoll co-invest in high-impact social entrepreneurs to support them in scaling up innovative business models that demonstrate the ability to deliver sustainable development impact. The Alliance pairs USAID’s expertise in scaling development solutions through its Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) program with Skoll’s decade-long experience cultivating the world’s most successful social entrepreneurs. “This alliance is a great example of the kind of locally-sourced and scalable innovation that USAID seeks in our partnership with Skoll,” said Maura O’Neill, USAID’s Chief Innovation Officer. “Massive deforestation eliminates biodiversity, increases carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and worsens global warming. Imazon puts tools in the hands of local communities so they themselves can monitor and control their own resources and combat a problem that affects them very personally.”
The global humanitarian organization Mercy Corps joined the Alliance in September 2012, to support USAID’s efforts to identify and evaluate organizations that represent good candidates for funding. In addition, Mercy Corps and its partner Mission Measurement will oversee rigorous monitoring of the individual ventures, to assess their overall impact. The Alliance has committed to this investment primarily in the form of grants, in order to scale up ten social ventures over the next five years.
“This alliance is a way to give good ideas the runway and fuel they need to take off,” said Neal Keny-Guyer, Mercy Corps CEO. “It’s easy enough to start a pilot project. The hard part is gathering the right data and figuring out what’s working, so you know how those efforts could reach millions more people.”