Our Unique Approach
Sometimes to make a real difference, you have to be a little different
Village Enterprise’s approach to economic development is unique in several respects:
We work in rural communities rarely served by microfinance groups and beyond the bounds of traditional microlenders. Most loan officers need 300-500 clients to cover their administrative costs, limiting their focus to cities and towns. We literally go out into the countryside, where few others tread and, most importantly, we work with individuals who cannot access of do not qualify for microfinance loans.
- We target those living in extreme poverty. We focus on people with no regular income, no assets, high levels of food insecurity (hunger), and who do not qualify for traditional microfinance programs. We assess poverty levels using a short survey based on the Grameen Progress out of Poverty Index. By documenting food security, education, health, housing and savings at the start of the program, we can then take follow-up measurements to assess the impact of our program. We empower people without income to start businesses, rather than working with people who already have existing businesses as many microfinance institutions do.
- We identify and train local leaders to become Business Mentors. As members of our team, Business Mentors qualify and recruit prospective program participants who live below the poverty line, deliver business training, assist in crafting business plans, provide on-going mentoring during the start-up phase, and help form Business Savings Groups. By partnering with local leaders who understand the local language, culture, customs and markets, our program is locally appropriate, cost-effective and high impact.
- We have exceptional staff and fellows in Kenya and Uganda. East African nationals serve as our country directors, trainers, and administrators. They approve business applications, oversee program delivery, and recruit, train, and manage our network of village business mentors. They work together with a team of fellows who support our local staff in countless ways, helping to integrate experience and best practices from other organizations around the world into the Village Enterprise program. As a constant presence in these regions, our staff and fellows can monitor and evaluate our program daily, ensuring it is always improving.
- We are committed to results. For more than a decade we’ve been measuring the poverty levels of income program participants and the impact of our organization. This gives us a serious head-start over almost all other microfinance institutions and organizations. Today, we have several on-going monitoring tools built into our program and we conduct regular, rigorous impact evaluations. We use the results to continuously improve our program and report our impact to staff and donors