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2016 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

39 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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.

Previous Stories
3

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.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 4

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.

7

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.

6 Simona M.

Donor

Rating: 5

Village Enterprise is a superb NGO that successfully sustainably lifts the poorest of the poor East Africans up from poverty. They use a 2-year graduation approach that begins with education and business and training, includes two grants, and assists participating villages in creating savings groups. I had the privilege of visiting some of the projects in Uganda in April 2015, and wrote this article (http://villageenterprise.org/blog/hope-to-dignity-notes-from-a-village-enterprise-vision-trip/) about my experience and observations. Since that time, VE is 2/3 through a randomized control trial (RCT) that is set to prove the organizations success. Based on what I saw and heard while visiting those Ugandan villages, I am confident that a donation to Village Enterprise is the best investment one can make to raise human beings from extreme poverty.

5 Lynn96

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Village Enterprise does things right! The team of people from home office to field staff to board members to volunteers are all top notch. Their cultural sensitivity, methodology, and execution have yielded excellent results and attracted the attention of experts in the field. It will be exciting to see their deepening impact as they continue to help the rural poor create sustainable businesses.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I spent a month interning with Village Enterprise and could not have asked for a better experience. I got the opportunity to see the US operations in San Carlos for a week, and then followed that up with three weeks in the field in Uganda. Village Enterprise staff on both sides of the globe were welcoming, helpful, encouraging, and put forth a tireless effort to give me the most rewarding and well rounded experience possible. I can't say enough good things about the people that work with this organization.

In Uganda I trekked out into the field to gather qualitative data in the form of interviews for Village Enterprise's monitoring and evaluation department. I had the privilege of hearing firsthand the impact the trainings are having on people's lives. One man told me that he used to wait around for the government to offer some kind of assistance, and now he takes pride in the fact that he knows how to create a sustainable business himself in order to feed his family.

Village Enterprise is an organization that is making a real difference in real people's lives. I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to intern with them in both the US and Uganda.

4 Katie127

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.

4 Anna101

Former staff

Rating: 5

I was an intern with Village Enterprise both at their headquarters and in Uganda as part of my graduate program. I could not have asked for a better practicum, because my coursework came to life at Village Enterprise. I was anxious to get some experience with a development organization, and the staff I met were incredibly passionate, competent, and welcoming, and they really put me to work in the field, exposing me to many dimensions of the work they do.

Specifically, I had the opportunity to participate in qualitative monitoring and evaluation efforts, meeting business owners and interviewing them about the impact of the programs. The most moving impact I observed was that, on top of the valuable knowledge the villagers receive about sustaining a small business and saving as a group, they gain pride in their ability to take care of themselves and their families, and they gain community. They know their neighbors better, and they are able to help one another.

I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to work with an organization that is part of changing so many lives for the better.

4

Donor

Rating: 5

In 2013 I had the privilege of going to East Africa and had a life changing experience. When I returned I knew I wanted to give back but didn't know where to start. I was introduced to Village Enterprise and when I learned about their program and their dedication to lifting women out of poverty, I knew it would be the perfect fit. I am very blessed to be a woman business owner and knowing that my business can give back to other women who have not been as privileged, would be extremely rewarding.

I have been very impressed at the professionalism of the staff, their commitment to this organization, and the ease of working with them. I know through Village Enterprise, great strides will be made in the fight against poverty. I am proud to partner with such an amazing organization so that my business can be socially responsible in making positive change.

3

Donor

Rating: 5

I got involved with Village Enterprise when a close childhood friend started working there and introduced me to her passionate group at co-workers. I have traveled to Africa and know that the work being done by Village Enterprise is so important to the development of a poverty-free East Africa and I am inspired by the dedicated, enthusiastic interns and staff. Their approach to training and supporting small business owners in Kenya and Uganda works. Village Enterprise may be a small non-profit, but their impact is huge. I will continue to be involved and support this amazing organization.

4

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!!

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

I joined the Board of Village Enterprise about a year ago and have been consistently impressed ever since, by the quality of the programs as well as by the dedication, professionalism and warmth of the management, staff and other board members. Village Enterprise is making a meaningful, lasting change in the lives of thousands of desperately poor people in East Africa, and does so in a humble, collaborative and client-centered way.

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

Village Enterprise has surprisingly simple but effective model of helping those living in rural poverty in east Africa reach self-sufficiency. I was attracted to be on the board after hearing a colleague at GiveWell recommend that I learn more. I was impressed; Village boasts excellent metrics and is halfway through a rigorous evaluation with Innovations for Poverty Action to measure its impact (read: this is an exceptionally high bar). Plus, Village has strong financials, a fantastic and dedicated CEO, and a high-functioning, collegial board. I'm proud to be a board member, and I'm hoping others who care about poverty support Village.