In late October, USAID and its partners, including Grand Challenges Canada, Australian Aid, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and other donor organizations, announced the Million Lives Club. This multi-donor initiative plans to create a global community of innovators and organizations, each of whom is improving the lives of more than one million people living on less than 5 dollars a day.
The Million Lives Club will help members scale up operations by attracting the funding and support they need. Scaling up means taking successful projects, programs, or policies and expanding, adapting, and sustaining them for greater development impact.
In doing so, the Million Lives Club hopes to de-bunk the persistent myth that nothing is scaling, and that there is nothing available in which donors can invest, said Alexis Bonnell, USAID’s chief innovation officer.
The Million Lives Club is uniquely positioned to disprove this myth, and to offer support to its members, because it has attracted the attention of many donors and funders, said Ms. Bonnell. One of the goals, she said, is to achieve a roster of organizations that are having exceptionally prolific social impact:
“If you’re talking about the journey to self-reliance, people being able to move away from poverty, to not require foreign aid any more, at some point they have to be able to take control of their own destiny. And that means they have to start exercising preference, or choice. So what I love about the Million Lives Club is that in the journey to self-reliance, these social entrepreneurs are really empowering their customers. They’re not making them beneficiaries, they’re really empowering choice and options. What’s exciting is that when you start getting to a million customers, we know that you’re really providing value.”
“Announcing the Million Lives Club was just a baby step in getting to the process of this learning journey,” said Alexis Bonnell. “I think that what we really hope is that other investors, other funders, and most importantly other players in the ecosystem will also get excited about these organizations that are scaling.”
The Million Lives Club hopes to double its list of members in the coming year, and plans to announce new cohorts twice a year. The deadline to apply for the next cohort is January 10, 2020. For more information and to apply, visit millionlivesclub.org.