Beyond Stories: Building Stronger Micro-Distributors the Focus of Impact Report

Monday, April 2, 2018

Many organizations working with small businesses in low-income countries struggle with how to separate powerful, but anecdotal, stories from true social impact that can be replicated.  

The newly released WDI Impact Report, “Positive Change Through Actionable Metrics,” reviews the work of the Institute’s Performance Measurement Initiative (PMI) while pilot-testing a new framework in Brazil, Nicaragua and Peru designed to increase the impact of small, inclusive businesses and their distribution networks.

The latest report traces WDI’s work back to a 2015 Mexico conference sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) where WDI Senior Program Manager Heather Esper debuted the new framework, which includes a mix of standardized social and business metrics over the short and long term. There was great interest in having WDI pilot the framework with different micro-distribution organizations in IDB’s SCALA network, which brings together anchor companies, microfinance institutions, academia and non-governmental organizations to combine efforts to grow inclusive distribution networks.

Three SCALA network organizations were selected – Supply Hope in Nicaragua, Chakipi Acceso in Peru and Kiteiras in Brazil – and WDI went to work to identify indicators from the framework that would properly reflect the impact on the micro-distributors for each venture. The team also developed context-specific collection plans for gathering the necessary data. This helped the enterprises increase their data collection skills, and allowed WDI to test how much practical guidance future organizations would need if they were using the framework.

“We are pleased to release this impact report that highlights our work with three great organizations to achieve measurement that is actually meaningful to them,” said WDI Research Associate Rebecca Baylor. “The teams we worked with deserve a lot of credit for the success of this project. So many organizations are struggling with how to measure their impacts, and these teams were willing to have in-depth conversations and reflect on their data collection practices.”

As the report chronicles, WDI developed surveys for the three organizations and helped them collect and analyze the data. The work culminated in a set of recommendations for the three organizations to apply in future impact measurement activities. All three gained a better understanding of how to measure changes in the well-being of their micro-distributors.

“They were committed to building their capacity for making decisions with the data they collect,” Baylor said. “This report shares the process we went through together and will be valuable for other organizations who are striving to accomplish the same.”

It’s the second report in an ongoing series that chronicle the long-term impact WDI is having in certain sectors or geographies. The first WDI Impact Report, “Improving Business Education in the Philippines,” debuted in March 2017. It examined the Institute’s contributions to the five-year STRIDE project that focused on strengthening the science, technology, research and innovation capacity on the island nation.

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