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2017 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

51 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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 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.

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!