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2019 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

74 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Advisor

Rating: 5

Worked with Village Enterprise for many years. From the Board to all the office staff to the the Business Mentors in Kenya and Uganda, it is an organization filled with amazing people dedicated to their mission. Each donated dollar is valued and the heavy focus has always been on the program participants, and how to cater the program to improve their lives more effectively. I've seen first hand the impact that the program has, and believe Village Enterprise is and should continue to be a shining example of development work done correctly, humbly and with the right approach.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Village Enterprise is an organization that is sustainably transforming the lives of communities across East Africa. They empower individuals not only through their microenterprise development program but also through employing local leaders in rural areas throughout Kenya and Uganda. They work in areas otherwise untouched by other organizations and governments. The program and its staff are truly inspiring!

1 Mary Fay P.

Donor

Rating: 5

I choose to donate to this very worthwhile charity because of their wonderful track record of truly helping people. Instead of just throwing money at a problem, they help people to have a career that helps them, their families and their villages.

2 Lindsay C.1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

It was a privilege to work with Village Enterprise's dedicated and talented team! VE is an extremely mission and data-driven organization. There is always tremendous effort made to build local capacity and to continue innovating in order to support those they work with in Sub-Saharan Africa to lift themselves and their families out of extreme poverty. They also contribute greatly to the broader sector's learning agenda, take a partnerships approach to increase their reach, and deeply examine their Graduation model to ensure the greatest impact possible. Village Enterprise is a leader in poverty alleviation and no doubt will continue to improve the lives of millions as they replicate their honed, proven model!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Village Enterprise is an incredible organization that makes an impact on some of the world’s most vulnerable. It is an innovative organization that is constantly working to improve and provide high impact of those it serves. The people at Village Enterprise are highly motivated and highly-qualified with proven results. This organization provides a philanthropic opportunity to address poverty while making it meaningful on a personal level. Your donation to Village Enterprise serves as a testament to the fact that a small, motivated group of people can initiate big changes in the world.

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Donor

Rating: 5

Incredible organization that delivers great results in East Africa. Their graduation model has been independently measured and proven to successfully help people start businesses lifting them out of poverty

1 jamieaustin

Board Member

Rating: 5

Village Enterprise is an incredible organization, and one of few in the world to truly reduce poverty. Its focus on impact is unparalleled, its strong monitoring systems rigorous and the level of evidence has tested through a conclusive randomized controlled trial through one of the world's best evaluation organizations. Village Enterprise is based in San Carlos, but the vast majority of its staff and resources are in Kenya and Uganda. Its financial controls are strong and its fundraising over the years has been successful in doubling the size of its budget over only a few years. The CEO is both visionary and strong operationally; that the organization has a development impact bond (DIB) at its relatively small size is testament to its ability to think big but pull off something as complicated as a DIB.

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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.

2 Mary Lu S.

Donor

Rating: 5

Ending extreme poverty and giving people dignity while helping them help themselves move forward is a passion of mine. Village Enterprise showed up on my radar as a nonprofit that is having great success in these areas. Their program appears to be cost effective with proven results including data driven solutions for ending poverty. It is an innovative organization that does not sit on its laurels but is constantly working to do even better. I am very pleased to shout my praises of Village Enterprise and wish them well .

2 Debbie A. Hall

Board Member

Rating: 5

Village Enterprise continues to innovate and improve its impact by increasing incomes and savings for people living in extreme poverty in East Africa. They accomplish this by providing business training, mentoring, grants and a savings program for the poorest in rural villages. The organization has strong data that they improve the savings, household assets, and consumption spending for the very poor that it serves -- and this is both from internal data and from external, independent researchers.

There are two things I find most impressive about Village Enterprise. First is the tremendous passion and devotion of the staff. The front-line business trainers and mentors come from the rural villages they serve and know the local context, traditions, and languages. Second is the way they continually look for ways to improve. For example, they revised all of the business training modules using a 'human-centered design' approach. The result is a pictorial approach to every lesson, allowing those with the lowest literacy rates to learn and increase their understand of how to start and run a successful business. Another example is that they are testing an increase grant amount of over $400 (vs. the $150 they've been giving), and an outside research firm will compare the impact of both sizes of grants against a control group.

Village Enterprise is my top pick nonprofit for poverty alleviation.

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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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Donor

Rating: 5

What an incredible organization -- changing lives in a thoughtful, data-driven way to end extreme poverty.

This is a very effective program run in an incredibly cost effective way. They are changing lives and making a real impact in this world. What I am most struck by is the wonderful people they have on the ground who are the face and heart of the organization.

Truly inspiring and making a difference in this world!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am so impressed with the work of the Village Enterprise. They have a philosophy of empowering the people who will then create the change. This is the only way that change in developing countries can be sustained.
I have traveled to Africa and seen many many kind people donating to organizations who come in and do things for the people as opposed to empowering, and educating. These organizations are often great at fund raising because they create " feel good" situations but unfortunately they are not sustainable.
Village Enterprise, has developed a very successful model that should be continued and supported.

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Donor

Rating: 5

I have seen first hand the impact they have. The best organization I have ever seen.

2 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!

1

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.

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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.

1

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.

1

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 Ginger Creevy

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!!!

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.

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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.

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 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 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.

5

Former staff

Rating: 5

I was lucky enough to intern for Village Enterprise for an entire summer in 2012. My experienced left me both humbled and gratified because of the work that Village Enterprise does in both Kenya and Uganda. I left the 3-month experience cherishing all of the photos and videos of families smiling because of the assistance and guidance that Village Enterprise provided for them. This is a non-profit that provides much more than financial lump sums. They create lasting business partnerships, mentorships, and friendships that accurately targets those most in need. I am honored and proud of being a part of this organization and will continue to support their mission.

3

Donor

Rating: 5

Given the abuse that is often found within the micro loan sector, it is all that more impressive to see what Village Enterprise is doing with micro grants. Their approach to training, mentoring and supporting locals in developing and maintaining small businesses is like no other. I hope other non profits will look to Village Enterprise as an example of true empowerment and sustainability.

3 Thierry D.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I recently engaged with Village Enterprise around the opportunity for pro-Bono work with them. I was impressed by the quality of the board and executive team, their commitment to results, and most importantly their impressive effectiveness.
They are still small, but have already had a deep impact on the lives of thousands of east Africans, and they on their way to having an increasingly large impact for thousands more.
I certainly plan to keep on engaging with them and hope that their mission will be as successful as it can be.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the pleasure of volunteering at Village Enterprise's fundraiser this past spring, 'All in for Africa.' It was a fantastically planned and run casino night that was a blast and very successful. I was completely impressed by how so few employees were able to run such a huge event flawlessly and (seemingly) effortlessly.
The people at VE are so passionate about their mission and have deeply impacted many communities in need. I would be happy to and will be volunteering more with this organization!

3 Monica62

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I recently participated in a design thinking workshop with this stellar nonprofit. I was impressed by the commitment and expertise of their staff. Village Enterprise's ability to provide data around the successes and limitations of their programs is impressive, particularly given the nonprofit's small size and limited staffing. Village Enterprise has a unique culture; the organization is willing to "call its baby ugly" and continuously self-improve. It does this through rigorous monitoring and evaluating and its ongoing randomized control trial. To me this is evidence of the organization's commitment to impact above all else.

3

Advisor

Rating: 5

I co-founded Village Enterprise Fund in 1987 and served as Exec. Director unpaid for the first ten years, managing a volunteer staff. During those ten years, my goals included laser focus on transforming lives for the poorest of the poor through microenterprise creation, and growing the small organization to a size where it could continue without me, sustainably. That goal was achieved, and after handoff to new leaders, I have not needed to be intimately involved for a long while. I just visited Kenya this summer to see with my own eyes what has happened in the past 15+ years. I am thrilled to say the focus on the poorest of the poor has not wavered, and in the meanwhile they have significantly expanded reach and innovated in many areas. The board, USA and indigenous staff, most new to me, are smart, dedicated and caring. They value honesty, integrity, open communication about issues, and leveraging world class practices, they study effectiveness and adjust course as needed. This shows in the transformed lives of 600k people. Children now attend school, one meal a day has become two or more, savings is reinvested, good record keeping is practiced, women become increasingly respected.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After volunteering with Village Enterprise I saw how passionate they are about their mission. This is an organization that is doing truly exceptional work to create a world free of extreme poverty and chronic hunger, by equipping those living in extreme poverty with the resources to create sustainable businesses.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked as a volunteer with Village Enterprise for over a year and have been so impressed by the impact that Village Enterprise has on the extremely poor. Village Enterprise provides opportunities that people might not otherwise encounter. The staff is dedicated, knowledgeable, and motivated - I recommend this organization wholeheartedly!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked as a volunteer for Village Enterprise last summer and became truly inspired by the impact that Village Enterprise has made through their hard work and dedication. I found my experience to be very rewarding and loved the work environment. I had a chance to learn about their overall mission and was impressed by their work to further improve the effectiveness of their methods in creating sustainable businesses. Given the chance, I would absolutely work with Village Enterprise again!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked as a volunteer at a fundraising event for Village Enterprise several months ago and had a great experience. I had the opportunity to learn more about their goals and mission, and I could tell that the Village Enterprise team members are very passionate about their work. it truly is inspiring. Given the time and opportunity, I would love a chance to become more involved and volunteer again!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I did some pro bono web work for Village to make a couple of small updates and fixes to their website. Village Enterprise does great work, so for me it was an easy opportunity to do some good in the world while getting to know some awesome people. Would definitely work with them again in the future.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Interning for Village Enterprise during the summer of 2013 was by far one of the most rewarding work experiences for me thus far. What initially attracted me to Village Enterprise was its' genuine mission to help eradicate poverty. The organization's holistic approach towards addressing such a complex issue was very impressive. The staff's passion for the organization's mission was truly reflected in their motivation and hard-work. Many organizations attempt to live up to their mission and propose laudable goals, however Village Enterprise is definitely one that follows through with tangible results. Always trying to innovate its' practices while staying true to its' core mission and goals, Village Enterprise is a 27 year-old organization that has and will continue to make significant contributions towards eradicating poverty. I feel very fortunate to have been a part of such a dedicated and passionate team and highly recommend Village Enterprise.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Beyond the staff's dedication and passion to the organization's mission, what most impressed me was their true commitment to achieving meaningful results for the people they serve. Many organizations are content doing things the way they have always done them, and for some, impact seems to be a bit of an after thought. This is far from being the case at Village Enterprise. The people who benefit from the VE program are at the center of all decisions, and the organization is constantly measuring impact, evaluating results, and innovating to make sure that each life is impacted as positively and as much as it can possibly be. Additionally, though many organizations claim that they are serving the utlra-poor, Village Enterprise is one if the very few that actually does. Their targeting methods are so comprehensive and precise that you can be sure that your contributions go to those who need it the most.
This is a unique organization in many aspects, and I was very impressed with their work after spending only a short time there.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked as an intern in Village Enterprise's US office during the summer of 2012 and could not have been more impressed both with the amazing work they do and the passion of the staff who dedicate themselves to helping the extremely poor of East Africa. Village Enterprise knows how to target the people who need their grants the most, and they are able to offer extensive business training to help those people lift themselves out of poverty. I believe empowering people is the only way to help them change their circumstances, and Village Enterprise does just that. If you want to get involved with smart, passionate people who are making a positive impact on the world, Village Enterprise is the place for you.

2 Whitney H.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Immersed in the staff’s passion and enthusiasm for economic development, interning at the US office for 6 months was incredible. My interactions with the staff in Kenya and Uganda were equally wonderful. Each member brings commitment, compassion, and cheerful energy to work each day. I highly recommend others to get involved in this organization’s efforts and experience the transformational work of Village Enterprise.
Village Enterprise’s unique program permanently lifts the ultra-poor out of extreme poverty. Equipped with the knowledge and resources to create sustainable businesses, individuals have the tools and confidence to earn steady incomes and provide for their families. While other organizations address individual poverty-related issues such as food insecurity, education, or health, Village Enterprise enables business owners to address all of these issues themselves with profits from their microenterprises. To me, this is the best way we can eradicate extreme poverty.