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Catalyzing Investment for Internet Connectivity and Digital Financial Services in Emerging Markets

Demand for internet connectivity and digital financial services is growing exponentially on a global scale. Developing markets continue to lack basic access to the internet and the poorest consumers are losing out on participating in the digital economy. The investment gap for internet connectivity alone is over $428 billion globally, and there is a need to ensure investments are directed toward building open, inclusive, and secure digital infrastructure and services. USAID’s Digital Invest program is designed to address this issue.

Digital Invest is a U.S. government-funded program overseen by a team of technical experts at USAID who provide highly customized support to the private sector. Its purpose is to select and support investment fund managers, wholesale internet infrastructure providers, and other private sector partners to accelerate new investments that benefit digital finance and internet service providers in emerging markets.

Digital Invest works with each partner to identify and provide targeted, risk-tolerant, catalytic capital to increase partners’ ability to secure private sector funding. Speedier than a development financial institution, with more flexibility than a traditional grant, Digital Invest provides an average of $500,000 per partner with the objective of unlocking greater investment towards resilient digital infrastructure, increased digital inclusion, and stronger economic development, particularly for the most vulnerable and socially excluded.

Since launching in 2022, Digital Invest has provided $8.45 million in U.S. government funding to partners who have, in turn, raised over $275 million in investment capital, with more than $475 million expected. In that period of time, Digital Invest partners have invested in over 60 technology companies across 38 countries, including the expansion of broadband connectivity infrastructure in Liberia, a digital payment platform in Uzbekistan, and a new fund supporting female investors and tech founders across South and Southeast Asia.

Digital Invest is led by USAID’s Innovation, Technology, and Research Hub as part of the U.S. government’s Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership (DCCP) with funding from the State Department’s Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy, USAID’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Hub, USAID’s Innovation, Technology, and Research Hub, and USAID Liberia. Digital Invest was announced by President Biden in June 2022 as a flagship program under the G7-led Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment.

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