Enthused with the momentum of last month’s call where we chatted about the state of impact measurement, on February 8, we kicked off part 2 of our “Impact Measurement CIP” series, which came out of the Unconference conversation at AtA at SOCAP16. Our second session was focused on sharing some thoughts on impact measurement tools, as well identifying the impact areas that we find challenging and contentious, while also exploring common metrics that can be considered as universal to all impact accelerators.

One of tools we discussed is called Sopact, which is a software hat enables users to dive into their robust database of 3000 metrics, while also combining a data collection portal, report generation tool and other features. The product is certainly worth looking into deeper as organisations ascertain the right approach, although it seemed to have more relevance for larger organizations with multiple stakeholders and multiple programs, and also the deeper engagement angle seemed untapped as well.

We also talked about some commonly measured areas such as livelihoods impacted, with a good debate on whether that is simply a count of the number of people who buy the product or use the company’s service, or whether it extends to more indirect outcomes (i.e the longer term reach of the intervention). We also agreed that impact storytelling acts as a wonderful complement to the quantitative picture, also acting as a way to quickly differentiate the impact of the companies. Job creation is a common metric that our accelerators, capture as it also shows the underlying economic development and impact.

As part of this discussion, a key aspect that emerged was that the type of impact data that gets captured tends to be defined by the funding model of the accelerator. Thus, differences between non-profits and private funders helps to determine the level of detail, sophistication, and breadth of impact metrics that organizations seek to understand. Another metric that we explored was understanding how program interventions are eliciting better life outcomes, such as skills, knowledge, and business acumen for the entrepreneurs we support. A truly engaging discussion that left us all pondering the need for simple, agnostic and clear metrics that we could all use.

One such framework is the Social Progress Index (SPI), which is based on the Sustainable Development Goals and has a basic three category framework that helps is “Basic Human Needs,” such as shelter, access to food and water, personal safety; “Foundations of Wellbeing,” which entails environment, health and wellbeing, access to information; and then “Opportunity,” in other words advanced education, and tolerance. We agreed that this approach seemed universal and broad enough to capture the spectrum of entrepreneurs we support, such that our goal in our next session would entail exploring how to apply the SPI to our own contexts and share details in the next call.

It’s an amazing adventure to be on with these incredible minds sharing our thoughts, challenges and areas for collaboration as we navigate the world of entrepreneurship support and impact measurement. Our next session will be focused on more brainstorming, and also how we can continue this dialogue into the rest of the year and beyond. Stay tuned!

Image Credit: Sopact