We are


Social development is about tackling complex, systemic problems like poverty reduction, education, healthcare, socio-economic inequality, gender equality, and human rights. Through policy, reforms, and innovation, social development aims to create sustainable change that benefits individuals, communities, and societies.

Capability is an interdisciplinary network of development practitioners and organisations, applying innovative methodologies to address complex social development challenges in the global south.

We are committed to facilitating and assisting development organisations in designing change strategies and development portfolios tailored to the context in which they operate.

Our services encompass various sectors, including democratic governance, decentralization, community development, education  climate change adaptation, evidence-informed policy, and rural development.

We draw from systems thinking, problem-driven political economy analysis, and developmental evaluation to assist organisations in addressing complex social challenges and implementing adaptive  initiatives that prioritise the most vulnerable.

Our offerings include

Research and analysis

We collaborate with partners, employing problem-driven political economy analysis, systems, and context mapping. The analysis that we conduct identifies and maps locally nominated problems and highlights the interests and incentives of various stakeholders as well as how power dynamics influence policy outcomes. This helps design initiatives that are sensitive to the political environment and that align with the realities of the context they operate in.

Change strategies

We engage closely with partners, co-designing program and intervention strategies that integrate systems thinking, problem-driven iterative adaptation (PDIA), and group facilitation. This collaborative approach helps generate change hypotheses and portfolios of action, aiming to shift governance systems so that they provide accessible public services and livelihood support to the most vulnerable, providing pathways to emerge from poverty.

MEL systems

We collaborate with partners to design and manage monitoring, evaluation and learning systems that prioritize strategic learning. Our approach integrates developmental evaluation principles and employs group facilitation and sensemaking techniques. By placing strategic learning at the core, our tailored MEL systems inform decisions, track implementation, and ensure credible evidence of progress towards outcomes, supporting adaptive management across programme teams.

Our work

We serve as a senior researcher within Akanksha Bapna’s team and are actively engaged in a comprehensive study of the EdTech innovation ecosystem in Bangladesh as part of the EdTech Hub programme. The title of the study is: “How do EdTech solutions spread? Understanding system-level factors impacting the implementation and scale of EdTech innovations in Bangladesh.”  This project is driven by the overarching goal of comprehending the system-level elements and dynamics that either facilitate or hinder the scaling of EdTech innovations in Bangladesh. The research involves close collaboration with HundrED in Finland and a2i in Bangladesh. Furthermore, this initiative employs research methodologies rooted in systems thinking principles.
Client: ODIFunder: FCDO | Duration: 07/2022-12/202

Capability led the design and implementation of an Outcome Harvesting exercise to assess the contribution of the KIAT programme to strengthening the quality of infrastructure investment enabling environment in Indonesia.

Client: Cardno Australian (now DT Global)| Funder: DFAT |Duration: 02-06/2022


We are part of the Monitoring, Evidence, and Learning (MEL) team within the Ultra Poverty Graduation Initiative, leading the strategic learning component. We work closely with the programme team, applying principles derived from developmental evaluation, Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA), and problem-driven political economy analysis. Our contribution includes:

  • Co-designing and refining the MEL system for the program.
  • Collaboratively designing and conducting contextual analyses, problem assessments, and the formulation of change hypotheses and portfolios of strategic systems influencing actions with the country teams in six countries.
  • Defining the key learning indicators to be tracked throughout the implementation of these portfolios.
  • Facilitating regular Strategy Testing workshops in collaboration with country teams.
  • Designing and facilitating sensemaking workshops to derive insights from the countries’ portfolios.
  • Documenting and disseminating critical insights and lessons learned to guide strategic decisions at both the programme and country levels

Client: BRAC International | Funder: Audacious projectDuration: 01/2022 – 12/2023

Capability led the evaluation of Fingo’s planning, monitoring, and learning system. Fingo serves as the overarching organization of the Finnish international cooperation development NGOs.

Client: Fingo| Duration: 10/2021-03/2022

About us

We established Capability in 2018 to engage with the international community of practitioners and researchers engaged in discussions and explorations of how to design and implement adaptive development initiatives that address locally identified problems. We firmly believe in harnessing the power of local knowledge and nurturing learning and reflection spaces with our partners.

Arnaldo Pellini

Arnaldo is a researcher and development practitioner with over two decades of experience in the development sector. He has extensive expertise in adaptive approaches for initiatives aiming at policy influencing and governance reforms. He has lived in Nepal, Cambodia, Viet Nam, the Philippines and Indonesia and worked on several other countries. He has knowledge of and experience with leading multilateral, bilateral and non-government organisations. Furthermore, he has worked with teams and organisations on problem-driven political economy analysis, the design of change strategies and portfolios, and the design of MEL systems for adaptive management. He holds an MPhil in Economic Development from the University of Glasgow, and a PhD in Education from the University of Tampere (Finland), and he has published extensively on the use of evidence to inform and influence public policy and practice, adaptive development and MEL for complex initiatives in academic articles, book chapters, working papers, research briefs, blog posts and opinion pieces. Languages spoken: Italian, English, Spanish, German. 

Katja Pellini

Katia is a founding partner of Capability. She is an ecologist, international development cooperation practitioner and entrepreneur with fifteen ears of experience in environmental governance and policy. She has worked and lived in Nepal, Cambodia, Viet Nam, the Philippines and Indonesia. She is currently working with Plan International Finland and advising their programme strategy and practice for climate change adaptation. Katja is a life-long learner pursuing a Ma degree in degrowth and is also involved in the warm data international community of practice. Languages spoken: Finnish, English.

John Lennon


John Lennon
John Lennon

Our partners


SDPI is a non-profit research organisation based in Islamabad (Pakistan) founded in 1992. The institute conducts research on various issues related to sustainable development, including climate change, water resources, agriculture, health, education, and poverty alleviation. It also provides technical assistance and advisory services to governments, NGOs, and other organisations working in these areas.


Based in Indonesia, the Dala Institute is dedicated to elucidating and identifying durable solutions to contemporary issues at the nexus between nature and society. Dala consists of a team of highly experienced researchers and consultants who understand that
environmental and societal challenges are inseparable. Its core services are social science research, performance and impact evaluations, and technical assistance.


FDM is a consulting  company based in Kathmandu (Nepal). Over its past two decades it has conducted a number of assignments pertaining to research, monitoring and evaluation, capacity building, and institutional development on various social development issues and for a range of international organisations.

Our clients