The Development Marketplace (DM) is a competitive grant program that identifies and funds innovative, early stage development projects that are scalable and/or replicable, while also having high potential for development impact. The grant beneficiaries are social entrepreneurs with projects that aim to create jobs and/or deliver a range of social and public services to low income groups. We also serve as an intermediary and broker to connect our grantees to advisory services and follow-on funding. Though we are a global program, our current focus is on countries in East Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.
Since its inception in 1998, the DM program — housed in the World Bank and administered by the World Bank Institute — has awarded more than $60 million in grants to more than 1,200 innovative projects. All of these projects have been identified through country, regional and global DM competitions. Using DM funding as a launch pad, many projects have gone on to secure additional funding support from other donors, foundations, governments, impact and CSR investors.
Each DM competition focuses on a specific theme or sector and draws applications from a range of social innovators and entrepreneurs. Applications go through rigorous, merit-based scrutiny by panels of development experts from inside and outside the World Bank who short-list a group of finalists from a pool of applications. The finalists are then brought together at a face-to-face Marketplace event in country locations to present their ideas to the public and participate in networking and knowledge sharing events. At the same time, a jury comprised of corporate executives, investors and funders, development professionals and other experts meets with the finalist teams and collectively decides which projects merit DM funding. Going forward, DM competitions will focus on supporting proposals that aim to create a "Capital +" intermediation infrastructure in regions/countries of current interest to DM.