The Network of Social Innovators for Human Development


The explosive growth of mobile technologies has provided fertile ground for fostering innovation in the global South. The new millennium has also brought forward the “democratization of innovation” which has taken root in many developing countries. Local social innovators have taken matters into their own hands and are developing innovative solutions. However, many of these efforts still lack the required support to be mainstreamed into local and national development plans, scaled-up to millions and replicated in different contexts.

In addition, dynamic and productive interaction between social innovators and development practitioners and local and national governments has not evolved as initially expected. As a result many of the innovations that have socio-economic and governance impact are still not integral part of development policies and programmes.  

Alone, mobile phones will neither pull people out of poverty, nor propel democratic governance. Initiatives building on new technologies need to be directly linked to broader development agendas and relevant national and local policies. ICTs can indeed help poor people leverage their resources and knowledge to enter the global marketplace, demand public services and have a voice in governance processes.


To address some of the challenges and opportunties, UNDP is now launching an International Network of Social Innovators for Human Development, INSIHD.

The aim of the network is to facilitate the sharing of experiences, expertise, and  good/bad practices in strengthening ICT platforms, designing policy measures for the promotion of innovation, entrepreneurship, youth employment, and mobile apps development, harnessing the role of mobile technologies in underserved areas, and increasing the participation of women and youth in ICT.

Main goals and targets

The objectives of INSIHD include:

  • Foster innovation in the global South capitalizing on the rapid development of mobile technologies
  • Bring together policy makers and development practitioners with social innovators to bridge policy and implementation gaps
  • Share mobile innovations on a global scale that can foster the achievement of national and international development goals and targets
  • Facilitate sharing of experiences and good (and bad) practices in the area of mobiles for human development
  • Support and promote social innovators at the local, national and global levels
  • Empower women to be part of social innovation processes and become successful social innovators
  • Foster greater collaboration among social innovators that can result in the creation of national and regional innovation ecosystems
  • Create a global bazaar where supply and demand meets, and guidance and solutions are provided to innovators in developing countries
  • Create an enabling environment for local innovators to grow
  • Foster youth empowerment through entrepreneurship as a majority of innovators are youth
  • Create an open space for dialogue to facilitate the transformation society through advances of ICTs
  • Bring together policy makers and social innovators in an open platform
  • Take stock of the best practices taking into account emerging areas and contributions to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)
  • Create a global repository of practices (apps) to monitor the results and impact
  • Build on the experiences and lessons learned with regard to training and education for innovation for inclusive development; factoring in local contexts and local demands
  • Promote best practices in different regions and support the replication and up scaling of apps
  • Encourage the role of research and development in public and private entities in promoting technical innovation; identifying critical development gaps (in the MDGs for example) and offering relevant solutions
  • Conduct research activities on the trends and changes on the usage of mobile technologies in different regions
  • Put at the disposal of traditional development practitioners new tools and knowledge backed by real experts on the ground
  • Partner with other institutions, organizations and networks who can help in the overall process

Thematic areas

In terms of thematic areas, INSIHD will focus on:

  • Governance (participation and voice)
  • Poverty reduction (basic service delivery, job creation, entrepreneurship)
  • Education
  • Health

Network participants

The participants of the network will include:

  • Representatives of Governments
  • International organizations 
  • Regional Development organizations 
  • Global Corporations, regional and local private sector 
  • Academia
  • National and regional associations of Innovators