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Caitlin MacLean
Director, Innovative Finance
Caitlin MacLean is director of innovative finance at the Milken Institute. She oversees the research, development, execution and follow-up of our Financial Innovations Labs, which promote financial solutions to overcome economic and social challenges. During MacLean's tenure at the Institute, the Labs have resulted in concrete outcomes, including the creation...
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Few pilots actually take off
By: Caitlin MacLean
May 03, 2011
   
   
The international aid community is suffering from a serious case of "pilot-itis." Symptoms include a rash of funding for projects that are marketable but not scalable, as well as the aches and pains of growing beyond a niche financial product.

Pilot programs have been useful for demonstrating the viability of various funding mechanisms, but they haven't been able to fundamentally change the game.

As Maura O'Neill of USAID shared at a 2011 Global Conference panel on "Reinventing International Aid," the philanthropic world needs to take a page from the capital market playbook. Innovation can be spurred on if the appropriate incentives are there for public and private investment.

The Milken Institute's recent work in this space argues for greater use of pull mechanisms, aid tools that fund projects only when the desirable outcome is achieved. By paying for performance, the sector could create a more sustainable flow of capital. Indeed, these models of efficient deployment could be the antidote needed to overcome the lingering case of pilot-it is. For a practical case study of what these pull mechanisms can really do, jump to 40 minutes in to the video. You'll find out why we should all care a lot more about fungi.