This summer (June, 2016) I visited Village Enterprise's field work in Uganda. The biggest 'aha' for me was seeing the long-term impact of the organization. We met a Savings Group that is in its FIFTH year of saving together, meaning they have continued saving together for four years after completing the Village Enterprise program. After collecting the week's savings deposits, and each member of the group had nearly $700 per person in the collective pot! This is amazing for a group who qualified for the Village Enterprise program because they lived below the $1.25-a-day level five years ago. (Around this time, a report came out that the average US household would be hard pressed to pay for a $400 emergency.) One member, Grace, was eager to show us her new 6-room brick home with an iron sheet roof. When I asked what she'll do with her $700 when the savings are distributed out soon, she said she is looking for the right opportunity for starting her fifth business, and she is raising 6 grandchild-aged children. To me, this is a great testimony to the power of Village Enterprise's program and staff to help people move up and out of extreme poverty.
Village Enterprise continues to deserve my contributions of time, talent, and financial support because of the impact they have in ending extreme poverty and for it's commitment to continual program assessment and innovation. In the past two years, the organization has developed several impressive new tools and processes.
Some of these improve their efficiency -- like the use of smart phones for in-field data collection. But others increase their IMPACT by helping the very poor who are starting businesses choose the most profitable opportunity. Their SMART tool provides a village-based assessment of the costs, risks, and revenue potential of a variety of rural business options -- cash crops such as Irish potatoes, kale, onions, peppers, sunflower seeds (for cooking oil), etc.; small livestock such as chickens, pigs, and goats; various retail businesses; and semi-skilled businesses like bicycle repair, carpentry, and tailoring. With knowledge of the risk-reward profile for different businesses, and of the markets they can access, poor villagers choose what business to start from the most profitable options.
This is but one example of how Village Enterprise innovates to maximize the resources provided and significantly improve the lives of those they serve. This particular innovation won Village Enterprise recognition from the Rockefeller Foundation as a Next Century Innovator. See:
It is an honor to be a Board Member at Village Enterprise because this is an organization that is making a tangible, long term positive impact on tens of thousands of peoples’ lives. The model works, the team is world-class and the donor base is passionate and expanding. As we continue to execute the core graduation model, improve the execution and expand the reach, we will help even more people lift themselves out of extreme poverty and improve their and their families and friends lives.
I found out about Village Enterprise many years ago at an event at our church focusing on giving back. I have always believed in the power of entrepreneurship in providing hope and was looking for an organization who was working with local communities. But I was so impressed with the results being achieved in East Africa and the incredibly low failure rate of companies they helped start that I joined the Board of Directors of Village Enterprise.
Since then it has been even more inspiring to see the results being achieved year-in and year-out by the organization and the constant innovations on how to get even better results. When we recruited a new CEO,Dianne Calvi, the organization entered a new stage of growth and professionalism that still amazes me. And then, most recently, we were the beneficiaries of an incredibly detailed pro-bono study by Bain Consulting that provided a fabulous vision for maximizing our impact on moving people out of extreme poverty.
I challenge anyone to find an organization that will give you a higher return on investment In ending extreme poverty than Village Enterprise. The challenge now is just getting the word out and, if you are reading this, you can help us spread this message.
I have the pleasure of serving on the board of VIllage Enterprise. I had the opportunity to visit Village Enterprise’s field operations in Kenya in 2014. The local staff that I met during my stay are passionate about helping lift people out of extreme poverty by equipping individuals with the proper training and tools. The business owners that we visited in the field were very excited about their thriving businesses and the stories they told were very telling of their lives being transformed. Prior to joining the board, I had already known of the work that VE was doing but seeing the work in the field, meeting the local staff and hearing encouraging stories from the program’s recipients really solidified the fact that Village Enterprise’s programs were transforming lives.
I’ve been very fortunate to be introduced to Village Enterprise through consulting work and later board involvement. What makes them stand out? (1) Compelling mission of helping the poorest of the poor and going to places where others do not dare go, (2) highly effective and well-executed program, proven through rigorous monitoring and evaluation, and fueled by constant innovation, and (3) top notch team with strong leadership and great culture. I’m very inspired by their work and truly believe in the difference they are bringing to the world. Their approach works and has great scale potential. If we want to achieve our goal of ending extreme poverty, Village Enterprise is the program behind which we want to put our efforts!
When I was introduced to Village Enterprise, I was immediately struck by the organization's dedication to carefully measuring the impact they had on the lives of the extreme poor they serve and the willingness to innovate and optimize programs. This results focused culture continues on today and is one of the key reasons I support the organization cause to keep transforming the lives of people living in extreme poverty.
During a sabbatical from my job in the tech industry, I had the opportunity to spend some time with the Village Enterprise team, providing technical support as they rolled out a (beautiful!) brand new website. The team was an absolute pleasure to work with, and in the process I've had the opportunity to get to know their mission and culture. I was super impressed and eventually had the pleasure of helping out at a couple of their events as well. I've become a real fan of the organization. They're deeply committed to the project of alleviating extreme poverty in East Africa. I'm particularly impressed with their emphasis on data, and their rigorous experimentation with their graduation program. Can't wait to see the results of their ongoing RCT. Great team, great work. I look forward to another opportunity to lend a hand!
After returning to the States from a semester abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, I began an amazing 6 week internship with the team at Village Enterprise . Initially, I expected it to be like my previous internship experiences- engaging but primarily a way to pass the time and gain a few useful life skills. However, I quickly came to realize that my time at Village would be much, much more than that. The team was small, passionate, and dedicated, allotting me real responsibilities and generously incorporating me into their dynamic, innovative daily practices. I was able to research and develop a crowdfunding tool kit, help launch their new state-of-the-art website, and craft donor outreach materials, all the while learning about the impactful, effective methods of the field team. Village is composed of the most caring and thoughtful people I know, people who care not only about the final outcome of their work, but also about the processes used to get there and the community they build around them. I was so grateful to have the opportunity to be part of the team, and know my experience at Village will stay with me forever.
I worked with the VE team during Summer 2015 and it changed my outlook on non-profit work. Their mission is unique in that they actually teach others through weeks of classes how to build successful businesses from the ground up. The business owners are then able to support their families and their communities, paying it forward by helping others start their own businesses. Though there are few people in the US office, they all work incredibly hard to accomplish the organization's goals.
As a college student minoring in Economics, I got to see real applications of the concepts I study in class. Village Enterprise is a wonderful organization and their success stories from business owners are inspiring.
Village Enterprise (VE) has my support because they do not "feed people fish...they teach people how to fish", so to speak. I went to Africa to see their program first hand. Their program is very well thought out, monitored and tested. VE mentors are so professional, any company in the US would consider them star employees. They are extremely respectful of the business leaders, who are living below the poverty line, are mostly uneducated and very vulnerable. The professionalism, with the incredible skills taught to run a business and start a saving group (in very remote villages) are what make me know VE will reach their goal of ending extreme poverty in my lifetime. I am proud to give to this organization, they are changing the lives of so many families and the impact is life changing. Look closely at them - you will be glad you have.