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