Village Enterprise continually strives to increase our internal monitoring and evaluation in order to improve our poverty alleviation program. Since January, Field Coordinators and office staff members have been using a new system to check how our business owners are implementing Village Enterprise’s core programs (Training, Grant, Business Savings Group, and Mentoring). The new system we are using is a phone application called Open Data Kit (ODK). Through this, we are able to gather more information about what’s working well and what’s not. We will then use this information to improve our program.
At the end of every month, results are assessed from all the surveys that have been carried out by team members. The results are then presented to the team. About 50 business groups are visited each month. Since the new method was introduced, we have visited 470 business groups. Our staff must balance spot-checks with other field work but the goal remains to visit as many businesses as our schedules permits.
This new assessment is enabling us to see the details of our program across Kenya and Uganda. In the presentation that is given at the end of each month, we are able to give feedback to each Business Mentor on how well the Village Enterprise program is being implemented in his or her respective region.
The information is so helpful that we have added new surveys to further monitor aspects of our program in the field. We will now evaluate how business owners are adopting their new knowledge, the effectiveness of Business Savings Group (BSG) meetings, and the training sessions held by Business Mentors. The first addition will help us see if business owners are gaining knowledge from the business and financial trainings that we provide and applying that knowledge to their everyday business activities. The team has identified two questions per module that will be added to the current spot-check form. These questions are intended to find out if business owners are adopting and practicing the knowledge received from trainings rather than simply memorizing information. The latter two additions are new spot-check forms that will specifically look at training sessions and BSG meetings. These spot-checks will be done at their respective meetings unlike the regular spot-check form, which takes place at the place of business or where the business owners reside.
These new additions will further improve Village Enterprise’s monitoring and evaluation efforts. The spot-checks will also strength our mentoring program. Mentoring of business owners is regularly done by Business Mentors, but because of the spot-check process, Field Coordinators and office staff members are engaging in conversation on a regular basis with Business Owners, further guiding them in their business activities. A few weeks ago I was visiting a business owner that is raising livestock. The Business Mentor had advised the business owner to build a structure for her livestock. During my visit, I was able to see the progress of the structure and remind the business owner of the importance of the structure for the success of her business. The spot-check provides an opportunity to reinforce the different topics Business Mentors have been teaching the business owners and helps ensure their future success.
Fellow, Peace Corp Volunteer