Village Enterprise Fund, Inc. Overview
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Target demographics: Using tools like Poverty Wealth Ranking and the Grameen Foundation’s Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI), we identify the very poorest people in the villages where we work. These tools require that the villagers themselves work with our local staff to identify those in greatest need.
Direct beneficiaries per year: This year alone Village Enterprise will start of 2,000 microenterprises, train over 6,000 business owners and impact the lives of over 30,000 women, men and children in rural East Africa. Incomes from sustainable businesses enable families to send their children to school, improve their nutrition and healthcare, increase savings, and ultimately transform lives and communities.
Someone who had 3 hours of volunteer time could: Conduct a Fundraising Event. It is easy to host a fundraising party at your home or business. Invite a group of friends or colleagues to learn more about Village Enterprise. We will provide all of the tools you need to host a fun and successful event.
Geographic areas served: Kenya and Uganda
Programs: Since its inception in 1987, Village Enterprise has been developing and refining an innovative model of poverty reduction combining training and mentoring, seed capital grant and/or asset transfer, and savings programs to create small rural businesses. Village Enterprise’s economic development model plays a unique role in this sector, providing economic opportunities in rural, agricultural areas that other organizations are not reaching, and gives ultra-poor men and women the opportunity to transform a small grant ($150) into a new business, a better standard of living, and hope for the future. Village Enterprise is headquartered in San Carlos, CA, and operates in Kenya and Uganda.
This unique and proven model includes the following elements:
• Business Training: Empower groups of 3 people to create, operate and sustain income-generating businesses. Business training includes modules on: identifying business opportunities, leveraging existing resources, marketing, profit and loss concepts, basic accounting methods, savings, and conflict resolution skills to improve the management and operational capacity of peer-owned business.
• Startup Grants: Provide qualified groups with one-time seed capital grants (not loans) of $150 or the business assets and inputs for a specific type of business (“Business-in-a-Box”) to start peer-owned microenterprises. Each group completes a short standard-of-living survey (qualifying them as below the poverty line), and creates a business plan. Additional targeting is provided by using the PPI (Progress Out of Poverty Index) and Poverty Wealth Ranking in the villages, to ensure we are reaching the poorest villagers.
• Savings Groups: Provide financial literacy and savings training, and organize small business owners into business savings groups of up to 30 people. Each savings group elects a leadership team, writes its own constitution, and provides self-directed savings and credit services to its members. Savings is a key vehicle for people living in extreme poverty to 1) smooth their income and respond to emergencies, 2) provide capital for business expansion and build assets and 3) increase their credit.
• Ongoing Mentoring: Through a strong network of Business Mentors (field staff who live in and around the villages served), provide business mentoring to our microenterprises for a year to help the new entrepreneurs gain confidence, overcome normal challenges faced during the initial stages of operation, expand, and ultimately become self-sufficient.
Our vision is a world free of extreme poverty and chronic hunger where people have the means to sustain their families.
Returns on investment in businesses are seen as businesses grow, value-added services are leveraged, and business owners are empowered to serve as leaders in their communities.
The results of Village Enterprise’s most recent independent Impact Assessment demonstrated that our business owners experience the following improvements in their standard of living:
• Food & Nutrition: 32% increase in food consumption, with meals consumed per day increasing from 1.9 (before) to 2.5 (after).
• Education: 40% increase in number of children in school, with enrollment increasing from 68% of school-aged children in school to 95%.
• Women’s Empowerment: 84% incidence of improvement in women’s sense of empowerment in at least one of the following qualitative factors: independence, spousal relationships, household equity, participation in activities, self-image.