Testing Innovation

What does this mean?

FIT aims to support testing of a range of creative solutions to development challenges, and provide organizations with the opportunity to learn and grow as innovators.

Our program aligns with the Whistler Principles to Accelerate Innovation for Impact Development and Global Affairs Canada’s definition of development innovation, which states that innovation is “ a process, a mindset, and means to enable new or improved locally-driven solutions for better results and greater impact, which benefit and empower the poorest and most vulnerable, including women and girls.”

Examples of innovation include business models, policy practices, approaches, partnerships, technologies, behavioural insights, financing mechanisms or ways of delivering products and services.

Innovative solutions must create inclusive opportunities for local communities from project conception to execution. For example, women and girls should play a role in project design, testing, learning and adoption of solutions.

FIT is guided by the Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy, which provides context on Canada’s commitment to advancing development innovation and can serve as a reference for building your testing framework.

Why Test?

Once an idea has been researched and developed, testing the solution in the field is a key part of assessing its potential to effectively scale.

The information gathered during this stage can help organizations to either re-evaluate project design or demonstrate innovation scalability.

Regardless of the results of innovation testing, this process enables organizations to experiment and learn best practices. As part of our program, FIT will gather learning outcomes and facilitate knowledge-sharing among funded SMOs to build a stronger community of Canadian innovators.

Testing innovations enables organizations to establish Proof of Concept. The diagram below highlights this step in the process from ideation to sustainable scale.

Developing Your Testing Framework

A Workshop for SMOs

How will you know if your innovative solution is achieving its expected outcomes? How can you determine its effectiveness?

Developing your testing framework is a crucial part of the innovation and testing process.

This learning resource provides an overview of the key steps to creating your framework, including stakeholder mapping, identifying outcomes and indicators, scheduling and collecting feedback, and more.


Developing your Testing Framework Workshop
Here’s an example of a Canadian SMO who has used innovation and a testing process to scale their program and achieve greater impact:

Launched over 10 years ago by Make Music Matter, the Healing in Harmony Program uses music therapy to facilitate the healing process of survivors of sexual violence and other traumas in marginalized communities.

Participants work simultaneously with music producers and therapists to write, record and produce songs that reflect their experiences while accessing therapy services. The program empowers survivors to become confident artists and community advocates, and offers them the support and solidarity they need to embark on the path to healing.

Piloted in 2009 with a group of 70 youth living with HIV in Rwanda, Healing in Harmony has expanded to involve participants in six countries facing a range of challenges. Make Music Matter works closely with local partners, including health centres, community organizations and other support institutions, to adapt and implement the program according to the specific needs of participants in different contexts.

Healing in Harmony has consistently tested different approaches to program delivery and gathered lessons and feedback from the program team, sponsors and participants in order to develop its capacity for innovation and growth.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, the program has been tested and expanded in partnership with the Panzi Foundation and Hospital, an initiative that provides after-care to survivors of gender-based violence. Program participants are not only given exceptional therapeutic care, but also have the chance to become professionally recorded artists broadcast on radio and digital platforms, both locally and worldwide.

Watch this brief video to learn more about Healing in Harmony’s innovative testing and journey to scale, and visit their website for further information about the program.

“Incorporating gender perspectives across both development processes and product development can lead to innovations that are socially transformative and have huge, positive economic implications”

— Toward Bridging Gender Equality and Innovation, October 2018

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