In November and December of 2021, Village Enterprise completed a longitudinal study of more than 400 entrepreneurs who had previously graduated from our program in Kenya and Uganda between July 2017 and June 2018. The purpose of this study was to assess outcomes at the household, business, and savings group levels five years after participants entered the Village Enterprise program.
We’re proud to report that the study showed overwhelmingly positive results, and a sustained and often increasing impact for our entrepreneurs and their families. In fact, both household consumption and savings continued to rise after the end of our program with an 83% increase in consumption and a 933% increase in savings over five years. You can read the full report here.
“We’re thrilled to share our new longitudinal study results, which show sustained or improved results for the households we serve five years after participating in the Village Enterprise graduation program,” says Celeste Brubaker, Chief Impact Officer at Village Enterprise. “These findings are complemented by our recent external RCT results, which found no evidence of declining program impact over time. Results from both studies are especially remarkable given that final data collection for both took place in 2021 when millions of households in Africa were being pushed back into poverty due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. The data builds a compelling case that Village Enterprise graduates first-time entrepreneurs into a state of resilience.”
Building resilience is extremely important in Sub-Saharan Africa, as the negative impacts of climate change, inflation, and the pandemic all have the potential to be catastrophic for families living in extreme poverty. The results from the longitudinal study provide more strong evidence that our program equipped entrepreneurs with the skills they needed to adapt to the negative economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, suggesting their ability to adapt to future crises, or global and local shocks. Of note, 88% of the entrepreneurs in this study also reported the skills they learned through Village Enterprise helped them cope with the economic shocks of Covid-19.
The longitudinal study results are especially meaningful as they build on the results from the Village Enterprise Development Impact Bond. Independently evaluated in a randomized controlled trial (RCT) by IDinsight, our program achieved a projected lifetime benefit-cost ratio of 540%. In other words, for every $1 invested in the communities, over $5 of new income is generated by our entrepreneurs. The social benefits far exceed what it cost Village Enterprise to implement the program, including training entrepreneurs, awarding seed capital grants, and providing ongoing business mentoring and support during the first year. This showcases the immense power of our graduation program to sustainably and cost-effectively increase the income of our entrepreneurs, putting them on a sustainable path out of extreme poverty. Just like our longitudinal study, the RCT results were achieved despite the onset of the pandemic and the subsequent market closures and country-wide lockdowns.
On top of these achievements, we have made significant improvements to our program since 2017. These improvements include the implementation of a powerful adaptive management system, a streamlined and more interactive training curriculum, and the use of digital technologies—such as videos and mobile cash transfers—to maximize our efficiency and overall impact. Since these improvements were implemented after entrepreneurs in the longitudinal study graduated from our program, we hope to see even greater results for our entrepreneurs in future studies.
To further magnify our impact in the years to come, we plan to continue testing the latest technologies and methods for training, coaching, and evaluating. Most importantly, we will continue to keep our entrepreneurs at the forefront of everything we do. In an era of increased global shocks from Covid-19, conflict, and climate change, it is imperative we make sure the most vulnerable families have access to our program, equipping them with the skills and resources to adapt and thrive. To learn more about the Village Enterprise longitudinal study, read the full report using the link below.
“In addition to confirming the persistent and often growing impact of our program in the communities we serve, the report contains important insights on outcomes for different population segments and the mediating influencers of impact,” Celeste says. “This is a fantastic read for anyone interested in learning more about fostering entrepreneurship and resilience among women living in extreme poverty in rural Africa.”