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Hetal Sheth 10/11/22 11:46 PM 3 min read

How Impact Measurement Can Benefit Social Enterprises? With An Example

Poverty is a pressing issue facing the world today. Number one in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 is “no poverty.” 75% of the world's poor live in rural areas. In Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, many rely on farming for their livelihood. Increasing agricultural productivity has been shown to combat overall poverty. Still, small-scale farmers don’t have access to the technology or equipment they need. 

Impact Measurement Social Enterprise: Impact Journey

Oorja is a social enterprise with farming as a service (FaaS) to support farmers in South Asia. Their irrigation, cooling, and agro-processing services are powered by sustainable decentralized solar power at the farm level. These resources transform the lives of the communities they serve. 

Read More: How the UN's sustainable development goals (SDG) affect enterprise?

Social Enterprise Impact Measurement Challenges:

Oorja partnered with Sopact through the Miller Center in order to measure and manage their social impact. There were four key objectives:

  1. Learn from the data and maximize the impact
  2. Demonstrate impact to raise capital
  3. Fulfill donor/investor reporting requirements
  4. Gauge the frequency of data collection based on objectives

Collecting stakeholder data was especially challenging due to low literacy rates and the diverse languages of their stakeholders. The process required specialized survey techniques and digital transcription, a time-consuming and error-prone process. 

Oorja also had data siloed in a variety of systems such as MS Excel, Google sheets, Kobo, and more. Integration and making better use of existing data was a challenge.

Read More: 5 Social Enterprise Challenges Hindering Their Growth

 

Impact Measurement Learnings Of Social Enterprise

Did Oorja meet their objectives? Yes. Here were the strongest takeaways from the process.

  • IMM guides the focus. If your organization measures benefits for stakeholders, focus on them. The impact is defined by the changes that occur for real people. 
  • Ask questions to get answers. What actually changes in their lives? Asking stakeholders this question and listening to their answers is key to impact work.
  • Impact measurement is an interactive process. Gathering program feedback from stakeholders should be done on a recurring basis. Impact experiments gave Oorja the ability to learn and improve their products continuously.

Oorja - Oorja Project Associate, Preeti Kumari, remarked on “how crucial it is to run short experimental surveys of stakeholders from time to time to understand changes, take their feedback, and make better decisions for improving current services or introducing new services….” 

Understanding the strategic advantage of IMM, combined with new-age tools like Impact Cloud®, Oorja can now measure their impact in real time.

Read More: How can social impact data be used to measure and manage the impact?

Oorja- Impact Learning

What does improved IMM for Oorja mean? Oorja can now increase value for its stakeholders and maximize positive impact for the communities they serve. 

Oorja’s work is important on a global level. Studies show that irrigation farming can significantly close the poverty gap of rural farmers. Access to refrigeration and agro-processing further helps farmers bring food to market.

For the farmers, these efforts create equitable and secure livelihoods that increase the prosperity of their families and communities. Stable and diverse crop production resistant to disruptive events also increases food security for the community.

Their impact aligns with five different critical UN SDGs:

  • 1 No Poverty
  • 5 Gender equality
  • 7 Affordable and clean energy
  • 8 Decent work and economic growth
  • 13 Climate action

Oorja’s programs are driving these efforts while keeping energy clean and carbon emissions low. 

Read More: Aligning SDG, Targets, and Indicators

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Social Enterprise Putting Small Farmers First

Oorja’s FaaS resources help small farmers in India increase their productivity, revenue, and food stability. Through the Miller Center and Sopact, they now have the tools to drive an ever greater impact for small farmers. To learn more about Oorja, visit their website. Read more about the social impact accelerator Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship here. Join an upcoming webinar to learn more about the critical role of IMM for social enterprises and nonprofits.

Read More: How can clean energy social enterprises boost their impact?

Impact Measurement and Management Hands-on Workshop - Build Impact Strategy Now!

 

Photo by Nandhu Kumar

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Hetal Sheth

The founder of Ektta, and co-founder of SoPact, Hetal holds a deep passion for establishing enduring impact management practices in the social sector to have built-in learning and accountability.