PPI User Interview with Village Enterprise >
Village Enterprise (VE) is a nonprofit with a mission to end extreme poverty in rural Africa through entrepreneurship and innovation. Since 1987, Village Enterprise has started close to 36,000 small businesses, trained over 145,000 new small business owners and impacted over 750,000 people.
Our model is simple and cost-effective. We implement a one-year Graduation program that provides groups of three entrepreneurs with seed capital, training, and on-going mentoring by a local business mentor. We organize the business groups into Business Savings Groups (BSGs) of 30 entrepreneurs (10 business groups) to allow access to growth capital, provide a safe place for savings and build social capital. Integrated conservation training ensures that new business activities promote environmental best practices. Examples of businesses include livestock, farming, small retails stores and restaurants, tailoring, and beekeeping. VE is currently launching the Village Enterprise Accelerator, which aims to accelerate the pace of poverty alleviation through partnerships, innovation and research.
1. When did your organization start using the PPI, and why? What was the need you were hoping to address?
Village Enterprise started using the PPI in 2011 in order to improve consistency and objectivity of our targeting process by ensuring that participants entering the program are below the poverty line. Prior to the PPI, we were using a tool that we had internally designed called the Standard of Living Index (SOLI). Our adoption of the PPI was also driven by our willingness to adopt a well-recognized tool in order to facilitate comparisons at the industry level.
2. How does your organization use the PPI? To measure poverty outreach? To improve social performance (targeting or product/service design)? To track changes?
Village Enterprise uses the PPI in two ways. First, we incorporate the PPI into our targeting process. Village Enterprise Business Mentors carry out a Participatory Wealth Ranking (PWR) exercise with village leaders whereby households in the village are ranked as rich, moderately rich, moderately poor, or very poor. The PPI is then used to independently verify the eligibility of households ranked as poor or very poor during the PWR for participation in our program. The second way Village Enterprise uses the PPI is to track changes in participant poverty rates across time. While Village Enterprise is conducting a separate randomized controlled trial, to evaluate the broader impact of the program relative to a comparison group, we also collect PPI data from a randomly selected sample of participant households for comparison with pre-program poverty rates. The PPI data allows us to assess relative change in poverty levels of participants from where they were before the program.
3. Does your organization collect PPI data directly from households, or do you get PPI data reported to you from partners/investees?
Our staff collects PPI data directly from households. See below for more on how we do that.
4. What did PPI data tell you that you didn’t already know? What actions has your organization taken as a result of what you've learned from the PPI data? For example, have you made changes to your product offerings, your client base, or your business model? Or chosen to invest or partner with organizations differently?
Adoption of the PPI pushed Village Enterprise to think more about how we could improve the quality of all of our data collection. Improvements to our data collection tools and processes helped Village Enterprise better understand our participant population. This allowed Village Enterprise to design program improvements based on the needs of our beneficiaries. For instance, Village Enterprise learned that increased poverty rates among participants at program entry as a result of our more rigorous targeting process also led to a participant population with lower literacy skills. In response, Village Enterprise set out to adopt more visual programming. In 2012 Village Enterprise launched pilots to test both visual methods of teaching record-keeping as well as visual designs for business planning. Since then, both concepts have been refined and integrated into our core program.
5. Is PPI helping you to achieve your goals? What impact do you think PPI has had on your organization and/or its beneficiaries? How many people do you think have benefited from your organization’s use of the PPI?
Village Enterprise believes the PPI supports us in our mission of ending poverty in rural Africa by ensuring that we are targeting the extreme poor. The effectiveness of our targeting process in identifying the ultra-poor has been validated through targeting effectiveness analysis conducted by external evaluators as part of a randomized controlled trial we are implementing in western Uganda. The baseline study found that, “with more than 75% of households within the lowest two quartiles of national and district-specific welfare index values, Village Enterprise has done a [remarkable] job of targeting the poorest households.”1 This is especially evident in that numerous studies have shown that beneficiaries of other microfinance organizations fall mostly in the middle two quartiles, with less than 20% of the clients falling into the poorest quartile.
6. Describe the logistics of collecting and using the PPI at your organization. This could include what data collection platform you use, who does the data collection, whether data is collected via sample or census, how many households you collect PPI data on, whether data collection is integrated into operations, how frequently data is collected, who does the data analysis, and whether the PPI is used as part of a broader monitoring and evaluation strategy.
Village Enterprise staff collect the PPI data using android devices powered by a mobile data collection platform called TaroWorks, which was developed by the Grameen Foundation. TaroWorks integrates directly with Salesforce, a relational database. The scoring feature of TaroWorks automatically calculates PPI scores and poverty likelihoods. Integrating TaroWorks with Salesforce provides staff with real time access to PPI data. The platforms we use to support our PPI data collection facilitate quick turn around of targeting results to program staff. This allows Village Enterprise to engage in more program work. Currently, we are able to start three rounds of one-year graduation cycles per year. In fiscal year 2017, we will be starting 3,800 businesses.
When PPI data is first collected on a household and synced into Salesforce, a household is created in our database along with a unique ID. Following graduation at the end of our one-year program, Village Enterprise randomly selects 30% of our participant households to be re-administered the PPI. At this time we are able to push the household name and ID directly into the data collection form on the enumerator’s android device. This allows us to then map the new data back into Salesforce and link it to the household without error. In this way, we are able to efficiently track changes in PPI scores at the household level.
1 R Proefke & M Sulaiman, "Targeting Effectiveness Report: Results from analysis of baseline rounds from the RCT," manuscript, 2015.