Farming to Invest in the Future
December 4, 2011 Editor 0
Authored by: Jessie Cronan
At TechnoServe, we talk constantly about impact. Virtually every program we design is built with scale in mind, and there are complicated formulas to figure out just how many lives we can touch with a given level of effort. This makes sense: When your motto is “business solutions to poverty,” you have to keep your eye on the bottom line.
But it is easy, between the Excel spreadsheets and the PowerPoint presentations, to lose track of what, and whom, that bottom line really represents.
Recently, we surveyed more than 150 farmers in our cotton program to better understand the impact that TechnoServe’s work has on their lives and livelihoods. We wanted to get beyond our core indicators – the figures we use across the organization to track our impact – to understand not only how our trainings affected yields and income levels, but also what that increase in income meant for health outcomes, access to education and financial inclusion rates among our clients and their families.
As I leafed through the stack of surveys that towered nearly two feet off my desk, I was very much in “data mode.” And I had an ulterior motive. I was looking for hard numbers to support the widely accepted hypothesis that income generation is a critical weapon in the battle against HIV/AIDS. Moreover, I was hoping to demonstrate that not only is income generation key, but that our specific economic interventions were actually improving health outcomes among vulnerable populations in Swaziland, which has the world’s highest prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS.
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