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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

51 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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.

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!

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!!!

Amy_124

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Village Enterprise's Graduation program is a multi-faceted approach to helping people escape poverty which has been shown by multiple studies to lead to significant and lasting increases in household income. I am proud that the organization I work for, The Life You Save, includes VE on our list of highly effective charities addressing global extreme poverty. (They were added to our list by a Panel of Experts; VE's high rating by charity evaluator ImpactMatters was one of the contributing factors). VE's global staff are highly qualified as well as highly dedicated to providing the most effective and impactful interventions possible, and they continually evaluate, measure, and enhance the work they do with clients as well as staff. These are all hallmarks of an excellent nonprofit organization.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I've been on the board of Village Enterprise for almost three years now. While I've always been impressed at the professionalism, knowledge, and passion of the small (small, small!) staff at the headquarters in Northern California, it wasn't until I joined what they call a 'Vision' trip last year that I really felt the impact, commitment, and truly breathtaking program on the ground.

I was able to attend a training - held in a small church - where the business mentor communicated verbally (many of these people cannot read); and told simple but clear stories on the topic she was teaching (it happened to be teamwork).

And I attended a savings 'circle' - held in a different church - where the 30+ members of the circle brought and recorded their savings. Savings is a concept that never existed in these communities before.

And, the most poignant, was I was able to be one of four people who did the actual grant disbursements - small paper envelopes with local currency -- to teams of three people who had completed the training and created business plans. The grace, the joy, the hope of these people -- I will never forget it. And they welcomed us with music. Just magical.

So I happily continue my work on the board having seen our impact first hand. (There is lots more to tell about what we are doing...but I wanted to share this.)

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Board Member

Rating: 5

I joined the board of Village Enterprise in the fall of 2014, partly because of my connection with their board chair; and partly to give back -- we are so so fortunate in this country, the conditions for these East African people are almost unimaginable.
I am so impressed with the entire team -- from the ED Dianne Calvi to her US staff to the field staff in Uganda and Kenya. They are passionate and systematic and wise -- an amazing array of skills, hard work, and knowledge in the fight against poverty.
Not only that -- their methods work!! They have helped over 660,000 people begin to move out of extreme poverty, increasing food consumption, building small businesses, and improving the living conditions in their families and communities.
Watch for our large scale study -- we are measuring the effectiveness and efficiency of our methods. Results coming soon!!

akalay

Donor

Rating: 5

I have had the pleasure to volunteer with Village Enterprise for the last two years. We are also dedicated donors to Village Enterprise. It is a fantastic organization doing amazing life changing work in East Africa. I believe in the model of finding the people who are most in need and then training them to start and run a business. The cash grant allows people to start their businesses without financial obligation. I can see the difference it is making in people’s lives by the stories and videos they share. I hope Village Enterprise can continue to grow the program in Africa.

Debbie A. Hall

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

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Board Member

Rating: 5

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:
http://villageenterprise.org/archives/news/the-rockefeller-foundation-has-recognized-village-enterprise-as-a-next-century-innovator

2

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.

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.


4

Board Member

Rating: 5

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!

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

5 Jeff121

Advisor

Rating: 5

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!

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.