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2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Village Enterprise

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Economic Development, Employment, International, International Economic Development, International, Foreign Affairs & National Security, Job Training, Microfinance

Mission: To end extreme poverty in rural Africa through entrepreneurship and innovation.

Results: Since our inception in 1987 , we have started nearly 40,000 businesses, trained more than 157,000 entrepreneurs and lifted over 800,000 people out of extreme poverty. Village Enterprise has empowered thousands of rural poor by tapping into the local knowledge and inherent creativity of villagers in rural East Africa to start new businesses, using their skills to capitalize on market opportunities. The types of small businesses started are agricultural and small livestock businesses, service businesses (tailoring, carpentry, bicycle repair shops), and retail establishments (household goods kiosks, used clothing shops, restaurants/cafe). After 4 years, 75% are still in operation. 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.

Target demographics: people living in extreme poverty by creating sustainable businesses.

Direct beneficiaries per year: This year alone Village Enterprise will start 3,000 new microenterprises, train over 9,000 business owners and impact the lives of over 60,000 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.

Geographic areas served: Kenya and Uganda

Programs: • Business and Financial Education Training with Ongoing Mentoring • Seed Capital Grants of $150 • Savings Groups of up to 30 Entrepreneurs

Community Stories

62 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1 Jeremy S

Donor

Rating: 5

We've been supporters of Village Enterprise since ~2014 and as we've focused our giving, we've increased our commitment and partnership with their programs. The biggest reason for our continued support comes down to the sustainability and lasting impact of the Village Enterprise model. Instead of merely "providing fish" as the saying goes, they "teach a village how to fish" through entrepreneurship and small business. We believe that this sustainable and scalable model does far more to bring families out of extreme poverty and the independent controlled studies that are now coming out support this belief. Add that to the long track record of Village Enterprise and the continued success of their graduates and the real impact becomes clear. Thank you, Village Enterprise, for the work that you do and for the families that you help!

Donor

Rating: 5

I spent a number of years living and working in development in East Africa. Village Enterprise has developed and implemented the most effective process for ending poverty I have ever seen. Working with the poorest of the poor, Village Enterprise doesn't hand out fish; they teach people how to fish for themselves. VE's goal is to create self-sustaining, independent businesses that produce a continual stream of income--which for this group means medicine, a more healthy diet, school clothes and books, all of which have an immense impact on overall quality of life.

More specifically, VE works with those who live below the UN poverty line of $1.90 in income per day: VE's "business mentors" spend a year teaching people who often have little or no education basic business skills so that they can start and run their own small businesses. Working with teams of three, VE personnel help each team identify and, with timely injections of small amounts of seed capital, to start and grow their own business. Groups of business partners then come together to form support groups, to which each business contributes a small amount of their profits. This allows the entrepreneurs to borrow from the group when in need, rather than having to pay usurious interest rates, as they do not yet have the assets to qualify even for micro-finance loans. After a full year of ongoing education they are on their own.

One of the key disciplines within Village Enterprise is a culture committed to measuring their results and to constant improvement. And the results have been phenomenal: given that the average three-person business supports about 20 people, each $25-$30 donated brings one person out of poverty--for good. I am happy to be a donor to Village Enterprise, and would like to see them scale their process throughout Africa and other areas of the developing world.

Donor

Rating: 5

I was lucky to find out about Village Enterprise from a dear friend. I liked what I heard and gave a small donation. The next year I decided to go observe what Village Enterprise was doing for myself in Uganda. To see how the mentoring worked and meet some of the business owners. I was so impressed with the staff and the business owners. The people Village Enterprise serves are the poorest of the poor and yet the most loving and generous people I have ever met. They are hero's learning to support themselves and their families. The staff, which was absolutely first class, were people any company would want to have as employees. They were professional caring individuals making a huge difference in the world. I will always support this work. And I look forward to visiting Africa again just to visit the business owners and bask in their joy of being given an opportunity to provide for their families. Teaching people to fish has always been a good idea! Generations to come will reap the benefits.

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Donor

Rating: 5

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.

Board Member

Rating: 5

It has been an honor to have worked with Village Enterprise over the past 4 years as a Board Member and donor. This is an organization that is significantly improving the lives of hundreds of thousands (and with your help over time millions) of people in rural Africa. The Village Enterprise graduation model has been proven to be highly effective in helping to lift people/families out of extreme poverty. The Village Enterprise team works in local villages to identify those who are willing and able to start their own small businesses, provides them business skills and other life skills to build and sustain their businesses over the long term, and provides the capital needed through grants along the way. It works and I have seen it first hand.

I was able to go to the field for the first time last month. I traveled with a few fellow Board Members and attended our annual Innovation Summit. This summit is just one example of Village Enterprise’s organizational commitment to cutting-edge business practices like human centered design, learning from failure, and adaptive management drive the team to deliver outstanding results for those we serve. While I am an executive in the technology industry in the Silicon Valley and I am used to innovative, hard-working, and results-oriented teams, I was in awe of how professional, capable, caring, and passionate the extended Village Enterprise team is in accomplishing our mission of ending extreme poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa. I am confident that this is a team that can really do it.

I was also able to meet with a number of the families and small businesses we have helped over the past 30 years. These are folks like you and me who care about their families and their communities, are willing to work hard and simply want to provide for their families/send their children to school. But they don't have access to the mentorship and capital required to start a business and keep it up and running. Often times, it is just the initial funding to buy 2 goats to start a meat business, or capital to buy scrap metal to start making and selling cooking pans, or capital to buy groceries and supplies to start a restaurant. It also could be how to save money collectively across a community to help each other maintain their businesses. It is as simple as providing the right coaching and a little bit of seed funding (grants not loans) and all of a sudden these families can eat more than one meal per day, can afford school uniforms to send their children to school, and feel good about themselves that they are providing for their families. Our business owners smile a lot and they should be very proud of themselves!

There are many good nonprofits, aid agencies, volunteers, etc. who care to serve the greater good and I commend you. If you are looking for an organization which is (today) making a tangible, significant and lasting impact on a large number of peoples' lives (and has the team, model and desire to make an even greater impact), I hope you will look more closely at our incredible organization. Feel free to connect with me through Village Enterprise website to hear more!

Joe C.

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Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

Donor

Rating: 5

My husband and I have been enthusiastic supporters of Village Enterprise for over 10 years because of their impact on empowering people living in extreme poverty to start and grow their own businesses - and fundamentally improve their lives. Our family visited East Africa to see first-hand the work being done by Village Enterprise local staff to support and mentor new business owners. What impressed us most was the strong relationship and expertise provided by dedicated Village Enterprise team members who had come from far and wide to support village entrepreneurs, and the visible respect and gratitude of the business owners. Besides providing important seed capital, mentoring and training, Village Enterprise inspires hope. The professionalism and dedication of the entire organization from top to bottom distinguishes it from other non-profits I have worked with. We will continue to support Village Enterprise in the future because their measurable impact and proven model to lift people out of poverty continues to be transformational.

Board Member

Rating: 5

What are the characteristics of a non-profit organization that has earned your trust, your energy and your dollars?

I look for a group that provides a compelling response to an important need. A group that can demonstrate that their program really is making a difference in a cost efficient, effective manner. A group that can articulate their mission and their theory of change in a clear, concise, well-considered way. A group with a proven track record of delivering results.

For me, Village Enterprise checks all the boxes.

Village Enterprise has been offering a successful graduation program to the rural ultra-poor in East Africa since well before anyone thought up the phrase ‘graduation program.’

I have observed their program in action, having visited with their staff and their entrepreneurs on numerous occasions. (I have traveled to East Africa to view Village Enterprise operations seven times in the past thirteen years).

I have seen the outcomes – children regularly attending school, mothers providing more nourishment, homes made safer – of successful small businesses. I’ve heard profoundly moving personal stories of accomplishments never dared imagined nor dreamed until Village Enterprise arrived in their community. Hope – a sense of a future that has promise - replacing despair.’

Flat out . . . their program works. Don’t take my word for it; others are taking notice, too. A quick internet search will find recent articles that speak to the impact – and cost effectiveness - of the Village Enterprise program.

Christine R.4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been closely aligned with Village Enterprise for the past 10 years. Watching Village Enterprise evolve and mature as an organization, while never wavering from their core value of ending poverty in rural Africa, is impressive! VE’s ever-increasing commitment to rigorous monitoring and evaluation is confidence evoking. Add to this the genuine desire of every staff member to transform the lives and future of African entrepreneurs, and you have a truly inspirational story that is gaining momentum every day.

Donor

Rating: 5

I find Village Enterprise to be a very progressive organization that is very impactful in the field. They have been a reliable resource for people in need
Thank You Village Enterprise

Katie127

Board Member

Rating: 5

I got fed up with how much time and money was being wasted in philanthropy and then I found Village Enterprise. This organization has the highest impact with the most efficient program I have ever seen. It has earned them the highest ratings from Impact Matters, The Life You Can Save, Charity Navigator, GuideStar, and others. I have been so proud to be associated with Village Enterprise. The model empowers local people to change their community in a sustainable way with dignity along the way.

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

Village Enterprise has a tried and true process to help those living in extreme poverty to become self sufficient. They in turn enable others in their village and ultimately in surrounding villages to become educated on the basics of entrepreneurship, risk management and saving. They have watched whole communities become transformed through the process of risk assessment, business education and mentorship. Often times it is the women in these villages that accept the offer to take on this process and the children in these villages get to see first hand what an education can do for a woman in the developing world. An all-around charity tackling extreme poverty from multiple angles with a relatively simple solution.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I've worked with Village for over a year now and it's been an inspiration. Their approach to poverty alleviation is innovative, scalable, and cost-effective. Their work has already changed the lives of over 800,000 people, and they have a clear plan to lift hundreds of thousands of other individuals out of extreme poverty. I cannot recommend this organization highly enough.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a previous employee, volunteer, donor, and supporter, I hold Village Enterprise with the highest regard. A daunting question in the nonprofit space is if an NGO is actually having impact. Village Enterprise has a proven, evidence-based model that has demonstrated positive outcomes for families living in extreme poverty. I saw witnessed this firsthand working on the ground for 2 years and I can say with confidence that this organization is worth learning more about.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I wanted to share my views of Village Enterprise as I find them to be the most amazing charity I’ve encountered. As a Chapter Leader with Dining for Women in Portola Valley, CA for the past 6 years I have personally reviewed and presented over 75 summaries of 501c3 NGO charities serving the developing world. Each has been approved by Dining for Women and all are outstanding charities which operate around the world to support women and girls living in extreme poverty.

Village Enterprise is an outstanding organization located nearby in San Carlos, CA I have had the opportunity to meet all of their dedicated local staff as well as Winnie Auma, the amazing country director in Uganda. They are serious committed people with a strong mission. They are nimble and deal with challenges quickly and effectively.

Village Enterprises’ choice to reach out and support families in the most challenging locations in Africa, and creation of a clever, well documented program to support income generating businesses in the most remote regions of Africa makes them second to none.

Their business mentoring and income generating program is very well honed, and their rigorous monitoring and immediate evaluation and change model make them a program that can be franchised throughout the developing world to great effect.

They are constantly identifying ways they can improve and immediately accommodate the new direction. Their follow-up system is second to none.

Their effect in East Africa is dramatic and consistent. I challenge donors seeking to alleviate extreme poverty to find a better program anywhere.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I often think about women who are born into extreme poverty, not believing in themselves and not knowing how they can feed their families and send their kids to school. Village Enterprise has the most proven model to end extreme poverty! When I think about what Village Enterprise do, tears come to my eyes. The model really works and with relatively small amount of money, so many lives are changed and saved.
I'm so proud to be a donor and part of this big family!

Donor

Rating: 5

As a former staff member at Village Enterprise's San Carlos office, I can fully attest to the impact of this incredible group of people. From positive RCT results to key industry stakeholder investments in the organization through the Development Impact Bond, Village Enterprise is making significant progress not only in ending extreme poverty in East Africa through entrepreneurship and innovation, but doing so in an extremely cost effective manner. It is so encouraging to watch the passion of a small and agile nonprofit truly transform lives and communities. I am honored to be a member of the Village Enterprise family!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I continue to be a volunteer and donor for Village Enterprise and think they are a fabulous organization. Their model for ending poverty is unique and it works. The staff I've met are passionate about the work they do and the people the organization serves. I am happy to give my time and $ to support their mission to help turn people in Uganda and Kenya who live below the poverty line into entrepreneurs.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the privilege of working with Village Enterprise for over six months and being an International Development Professional, I can say that the organization's commitment to alleviating extreme poverty is unparalleled. Everyone in the organization is result oriented and deeply committed to making sure that the programs are cost-effective and have high impact. They are data-driven, rigorously tested for their impact and have a bent for continuous innovation in poverty alleviation.
Village Enterprise is definitely one of the best nonprofits I have ever worked with, I am very thankful to have been a part of the team!

Donor

Rating: 5

We have been long-time supporters of Village Enterprise because of their work to empower people living in extreme poverty to successfully start and grow their own businesses by providing training, seed capital and mentoring. We had the privilege of seeing the work being done by Village Enterprise in Uganda in 2016 and were so impressed by the local field staff who are dedicated to providing excellent support to the people who are starting, running and growing their businesses. New business owners are given robust training, startup funds and the encouragement to do the hard work that help them increase their incomes. We saw first-hand how the methods employed by Village Enterprise led to improved lives and better living conditions. A new business owner summed it up so well: “Because of Village Enterprise and my new poultry business, I know that my life will be lifted out of the pit”.

Volunteer

Rating: 5


Village Enterprise is making huge strides to end extreme poverty in East Africa. Families and villages are being lifted out of poverty through the seed funding, mentoring and empowerment Village Enterprise gives to women business owners. It is an mazing model tested by scientific trials and it works. As a small business owner myself, these women entrepreneurs in Africa inspire me every day.

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a small business owner, I have been so inspired by how Village Enterprise changes the lives of the extremely poor through giving grants and tools to start their own businesses. I am a volunteer helping women business owners support fellow women business owners in Africa. With just $250, Village Enterprise enables 3 women to start a business and raise 20 people out of extreme poverty.
Village Enterprise staff in Africa mentor the business owners through helping them create a business plan, ongoing coaching and empowering them to succeed. The stories of the changed lives as a result of this organization are amazing.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Village Enterprise is a grant recipient of the Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund where I volunteer as a grant-making partner. I have volunteered as a liaison between the two dynamic organizations for the past two years. Village Enterprise is a serious, scientific and constantly improving organization. Their model of education, business grants, mentoring and savings circles works in rural, poor communities in Africa where women and men are taught to start and sustain income generating tiny businesses. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have met and worked with the US staff and can testify to their professionalism, devotion to the poor, innovative attitude and intelligence. As a Family Foundaiton Administrator and grant maker for seventeen years, I have met dozens of organizations and Village Enterprise stands out in my experience as a rigorously tested and successful nonprofit.

Donor

Rating: 5

Village Enterprise is a model non-profit. Excellent staff, committed board, rigorous standards, outstanding results!!!