Q&A: Evaluating your social enterprise
Monitoring and evaluation is crucial for accountability, funding and planning the next steps for your social enterprise.
In this article, Servane Mouazan from Ogunte, a social business that “delivers a suite of customised products and services tailored to the challenges and business needs of the professionals working in the women social entrepreneurs’ ecosystem”, shares some insights and advice about how you can monitor and evaluate your social enterprise status to move to the next level.
Sara: Why is important to monitor and evaluate your social enterprise?
Servane: Monitoring and evaluating your activities will give you important pointers about your organisation’s health and influence. It will tell you whether your assumptions are right, or if you spend unnecessary resources in the wrong areas. It will help you understand what is relevant for your stakeholders, be it your beneficiaries, your customers, your clients, your donors or your team. Finally it will back up (or not!) the claims that you are doing what you do… You know, the tagline on your website frontpage?
Sara: What are the tools and techniques that social enterprises can use to monitor and evaluate their organisations?
Servane: You need to go back to your vision and mission statements and scrutinise each word you have chosen. Look at what they really mean. Decide what indicators you will use to see whether change happens or not.
You need evidence, you can’t go without it. So think about the practical way you can capture evidence of progress. It can be interviews, before and after surveys, qualitative evidence, quantitative evidence, films, primary and secondary research. Academics have also spent a long time doing valuable research you can use as context for your work. Don’t hesitate to use these papers!
You also need to know if that change would have happened anyway or if it was down to your intervention.
There are hundreds of tools to pick up (e.g., http://www.proveandimprove.org/), some very complex, that involve understanding the worth in monetary value of the work you do, and others much more simple. No one can do the leg work for you. Start with a statement, build a theory of change, that explains the mechanism by which you will have a positive impact. Then prove this theory with concrete results. Don’t be afraid to change and evolve along the way. And above all keep it simple.
Sara: What is the most important piece of advice you would give to social enterprises that want to monitor and evaluate their organisations?
Servane: Back your claims with evidence. Always. Validate along the way. And keep it simple.
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