McKinsey & Company

McKinsey on Society


Voices Social innovation

A network for global development

Raj KumarDEVEX

Raj Kumar is cofounder and president of Devex, a social enterprise serving the international development, humanitarian aid, and global health communities. Founded in 2000, Devex serves a global community of 500,000 aid workers and 1,000 donor agencies, companies, and NGOs with news, business information, and recruitment services.

Each year, $200 billion is spent to improve lives in the developing world. This funding spawns a vast global industry that includes experts in specialized fields like immunology and sanitation, local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), universities, global corporations, suppliers of essential equipment and services like microgrids and logistics, and, in all, over a million professionals of all stripes around the world.

But for too long, this industry failed to operate as an efficient market. Talent was not matched to organizations nor implementers to projects through a global, meritocratic marketplace.

Devex was founded to address that by creating a network that would tie together and inform all the participants in the global development industry.

The result has been that barriers keeping new participants out have been lowered, and today there is a more competitive market-place for talent, suppliers, and implementers in global development. For example, now when UNICEF needs experts to help save lives around the world, it can call on Devex to find local professionals who can serve in their own countries. Or when IBM decides to provide its technology expertise to this industry, Devex can help it join the competitive bidding process, often with multiple funding agencies around the world.

Although this network has helped to make the industry more global and more efficient, a lack of information and connectivity was but one market failure facing global development. Another is the need to create a marketplace that rewards innovation. The next challenge for networks such as Devex will be to measure what works and what doesn’t work on the ground.


Devex Network – click to enlarge

Jobs by Country – click to enlarge


Source: Data on people, organizations, and jobs were extracted from Devex databases. Individual examples provided by Devex.

*Between October 1, 2010 and September 30, 2011.

**As of November 18, 2011.

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