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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

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

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.

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.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

For East Africa, and all other countries to cultivate more food and not fabricate more clay bricks made of 100% fertile clay/mud soil. Please visit MRHP Tanzania website to know more on clay brick making burning their land fertile soil to make bricks for their sustainable houses. I am more than willing to offer free know how, technology transfer, even on hand personal expertize for a simple ready to go project that uses renewable biomass waste to fabricate building bricks made of 85% agriculture waste. God Bless maher_h_w@yahoo.com Inventor/Innovator Professional Ch.E. IMC Consultant

Review from Guidestar

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization has an enormous impact the lives of the rural poor! I have seen their work and talked to their small business owners on two trips -- one to Kakamega, Kenya and southeast Uganda, and another to Dodoma, Tanzania. The volunteer Business Mentors -- all local village leaders working as teachers, pastors, health care works, or retirees -- are amazingly dedicated to seeing the small businesses succeed through their training and mentoring. This grassroots organization is doing things right -- leveraging local African leaders to serve their own rural communities and providing a sustainable solution to rural poverty!