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 ways:
- We work in rural communities rarely served by microfinance groups. We work in remote, rural villages with individuals who cannot access or do not qualify for microfinance loans.
- We target those living in extreme poverty. We focus on people with no regular income, no assets, living under $1.25 a day as defined by the World Bank extreme poverty line. Our business owners are often illiterate, have no prior business experience, and are unable to provide for their family’s basic needs. We assess poverty levels using a survey based on Grameen’s Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI) and a community-based Poverty Wealth Ranking exercise.
- We utilize S.M.A.R.T. (Smarter Market Analysis Risk Tool) to identify top-performing agricultural businesses on a region-by-region basis. This tool allows us to recommend greater-demand, higher-profit, and lower-risk crops to subsistence farmers interested in crop-based businesses. S.M.A.R.T. was nominated as one of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Next Century Innovators.
- 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 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. The Stanford Social Innovation Review highlighted our local leadership in their Spring 2013 issue.
- We identify and train local leaders to become Business Mentors. As members of our staff, Business Mentors deliver business and financial literacy training, assist in crafting business plans, provide on-going mentoring during the year-long program, 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 are committed to results. For more than a decade we’ve been measuring the poverty levels of program participants and the positive impacts of our program. 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.
“Village Enterprise’s unique approach of gifting microgrants provides a platform for reaching the very poorest people living in rural areas—those whose income is so low that they could not afford to repay even a small microcredit loan. This makes Village Enterprise a wonderful partner for our foundation’s mission of achieving change at the grassroots level in developing countries.” -Emily West, Executive Director, The West Foundation