2009 Economic Empowerment Grant | GiveWell

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2009 Economic Empowerment Grant

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This page details the process we used for identifying and reviewing organizations for the $250,000 grant we offered in 2009 to organizations providing economic empowerment programs in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Summary

Details

Finding organizations

We tried to cast the net as wide as we could to consider any organization that could potentially receive our grant. We considered a total of 443 organizations.

We found organizations by:

  • Reviewing any economic empowerment organization we had considered for our July 2009 international charity report
  • Reviewing all charities categorized as "international economic development" on Charity Navigator.
  • Reviewing all charities with an NTEE code of "Q30" (International Development) according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics and at least $1 million in revenue for the latest year available.
  • Reviewing all charities with an NTEE code of "Q32" (International Economic Development) according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics with at least $250,000 in revenue for the latest year available.
  • Later in our process, we became potentially interested in funding a microfinance organization directly, even if it was not registered in the U.S. We researched organizations based in Sub-Saharan Africa using MixMarket. The process we used to identify organizations to contact is posted on our research mailing list.
  • Other miscellaneous methods: We spoke with advisors and another funder for recommendations; we considered organizations that had received Fast Company Social Capitalist awards; we considered organizations that received grants from the Gates and Ford Foundations and appeared to work in areas related to economic empowerment in sub-Saharan Africa; we also published news of the grant on our blog.

The table below provides a summary of the sources we used to identify organizations:1

Source Number considered Invited to apply Evaluated for grant
NTEE Code Q30 or Q32 349 79 21
Charity Navigator 49 37 5
Previously reviewed 24 23 13
MixMarket 7 7 5
Other 14 11 4
Total 443 157 48

We invited 157 organizations to apply for our grant. We ultimately received grant applications from 49.2

  • We were never able to make contact with 30 organizations.
  • 79 explicitly declined our invitation to apply. We asked each organization for the reason it chose not to apply. 39 gave us no reason (either did not respond to our request or gave us a response that we could not meaningfully interpret). The table below shows the reasons given by those organizations that did respond.
Reason given Number
Limited Time or Resources 18
No Technical Reports 10
Felt like they did not do EE work in Sub-saharan Africa 9
Not a 501c3 2
Believed Givewell did not support programs 1

Application process and criteria

Any organization that met any of these criteria was flagged for further investigation:

  1. Primarily transferring cash directly to poor individuals. For more information about what we look for in this type of program, see our page on direct cash transfer programs.
  2. Could provide a compelling impact study demonstrating effect of programs on clients' standards of living.
  3. Could demonstrate that it was using donations to create profitable programs.
  4. Microfinance program that could answer our key questions about microfinance charities

Why these criteria?

Our choice of these criteria grew out of our review of literature focused on the impact of economic empowerment programs.

Below, we summarize the reason we chose each criteria. For more detail on any specific organization, please see links to its review below.

Cash transfer programs: The practice of making cash grants directly to low-income individuals, in our view, has some appeal. Intuitively speaking, it seems that cash grants (if appropriately directed) would allow recipients to use money as they see fit, meeting the needs individuals feel rather than needs disconnected, larger organizations may perceive for them. More information in our overview of cash transfer programs.

Impact on standard of living: We believe that casual donors should not fund experiments; they should fund charities that can and do demonstrate their impact in terms of lives changed. In the case of "economic empowerment" charities, we define life change to be directly raising people's incomes.

Creating profitable enterprises: In general, we think creating a profitable enterprise demonstrates that an organization is producing something which is more valuable to beneficiaries than it costs to produce lending support to the notion that it is improving lives.

Microfinance: Microfinance may help people manage unstable incomes. Clients who are willing to pay high interest rates, consistently repay loans, and remain in the program for extended periods indicate, through their behavior, that they value the service highly. More information on our overview microfinance.

Applicants

Note that only one organization, BRAC, submitted what we consider a compelling impact evaluation. More detail at our discussion of impact evaluations submitted for this grant.

Organization Transferring wealth to the poor? Rigorous evidence of impact? Creating self-sustaining enterprises? Answers microfinance questions? Rating More information
Small Enterprise Foundation No No No Yes Silver Charity review
Village Enterprise Fund Yes No No N/A Silver Charity review
ACCION International No No No No Notable Charity review
BRAC Yes No No No Notable Charity review
COMACO No No No No Notable Charity review
Grameen Foundation No No No No Notable Charity review
Initiative Development-Ghana No No No Yes Notable Charity review
MicroDreams (not eligible for grant) N/A N/A N/A N/A Notable Charity review
Microloan Foundation No No No Yes Notable Charity review
Opportunity International No No No No Notable Charity review
Vipani No No No N/A Notable Charity review
VisionSpring (AKA Scojo Foundation) No No No N/A Notable Charity review
Acumen Fund No No No N/A - Charity review
African Enterprise No No No N/A - Charity review
Aid To Artisans No No No N/A - Charity review
American Jewish World Service No No No N/A - Charity review
AMURT No No No N/A - Charity review
Ashoka No No No N/A - Charity review
Association for Progressive Communications No No No N/A - Charity review
Business Council for Peace No No No N/A - Charity review
CHF International No No No No - Charity review
Concern Worldwide No No No N/A - Charity review
Endeavor No No No N/A - Charity review
EndPoverty No No No N/A - Charity review
Global Fairness Initiative No No No N/A - Charity review
Global Partners For Development No No No N/A - Charity review
Heifer Project International No No No N/A - Charity review
International Development Enterprises (IDE) No No No N/A - Charity review
Med-Net No No No No - Charity review
Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) No No No N/A - Charity review
Millennium Promise No No No N/A - Charity review
Missions of Hope No No No N/A - Charity review
Nuru No No No N/A - Charity review
Outreach International No No No N/A - Charity review
Oxfam No No No N/A - Charity review
Peer Servants No No No No - Charity review
Prince Youth Business International No No No N/A - Charity review
Project Concern No No No N/A - Charity review
Shared Interest No No No N/A - Charity review
Winrock International No No No N/A - Charity review
Women for Women International Yes No No N/A - Charity review
Women's World Banking (WWB) No No No No - Charity review
World Hope International/LEAP Africa No No No No - Charity review
World Neighbors No No No N/A - Charity review
International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) N/A N/A N/A N/A Not rated Ineligible
  • 1.

    The table below shows organizations we considered as well as organizations we ultimately invited to apply for our grant. We didn't invite an organization to apply for our grant if, based on the information we had, we didn't believe their activities aligned with our grant criteria. The table below provides the reasons we chose not to invite an organization to apply:

    Why we didn't contact Number of organizations
    Not in Africa 143
    No "economic empowerment" activities 116
    No URL 23
    Content not in English 2
    Not MFI 1
    Total 285
  • 2.

    The table below provides the full list of organizations we contacted but did not apply:

    Organizations Were we able to get in contact with them?
    Action Against Hunger Yes
    ActionAid International Yes
    Adventist Development and Relief Agency International No
    African Agricultural Technology Foundation No
    African Methodist Episcopal Church Service and Development Agency Inc Yes
    Africare Yes
    Aga Khan Foundation USA Yes
    Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa No
    Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center No
    Bread for the World Institute Inc Yes
    Calvert Foundation Yes
    Camfed U S A Foundation Yes
    Catholic Relief Services Yes
    Childcare Worldwide Yes
    Children International No
    Children, Incorporated Yes
    Children's Relief Mission No
    Christel House International Inc Yes
    Christian Foundation for Children and Aging No
    Christian Relief Fund No
    Church World Service No
    Cnfa Yes
    Community Action Partnership Yes
    Community Uplift Ministries Yes
    Consortium for International Development No
    Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere Inc (CARE) No
    Cross International Yes
    Development Gateway Foundation Inc Yes
    Développement international Desjardins Yes
    Do Unto Others Americas Emergency Relief Development and Humanitaria No
    ECHO Yes
    Empower Emerging Markets Foundation Yes
    Episcopal Relief and Development Yes
    FINCA International Yes
    Five Talents U S A Yes
    Foundation for Peace Yes
    Freedom from Hunger Yes
    Gain International Yes
    Global Advancement Corporation No
    Global Gifts Inc Yes
    Global Impact Resources Incorporated Yes
    Global Market Development Center Yes
    Gray Matters Capital Foundation Inc No
    GSMA Foundation, Inc. No
    HOPE International Yes
    Imaginenations Group Inc Yes
    INMED Partnerships for Children Yes
    International Assoc of Science and Technology for Devep U S A Inc Yes
    International Disaster Emergency Service Yes
    International Foundation for Education and Self Help I F E S H Yes
    International Institute of Rural Reconstruction Yes
    International Institute of Rural Reconstruction Yes
    International Youth Foundation Yes
    International Youth Foundation Yes
    Ja Worldwide Yes
    Kickstart Yes
    Lifewind/Medical Ambassadors International Yes
    Lutheran World Relief Yes
    Market Matters, Inc. No
    Mercy Corps Yes
    Mercy USA for Aid and Development Inc Yes
    MFN No
    Microfinance Management Institute No
    Millennium Relief and Development Services Inc Yes
    Nazarene Compassionate Ministries No
    Omidyar Tufts Microfinance Fund No
    One Acre Fund Yes
    Operation Bootstrap Africa No
    Opportunities Industrialization Center International Inc African American Opportunity Center Yes
    Oprahs Angel Network No
    Pact Inc Yes
    PAPME No
    Partners for Development Yes
    Partners Worldwide Yes
    Peacework Development Fund Inc Peacework Yes
    PlaNet Finance No
    Resource Exchange International Inc Yes
    Root Capital Yes
    Rural Development Institute Yes
    ruth green Yes
    Salvation Army World Service Office Sawso Yes
    Save the Children Yes
    Serrv International Inc Yes
    Small Enterprise Assistance Funds No
    Small Enterprise Education And Promotion Network Yes
    Small Scale Sustainable Infrastructure Development Fund in Yes
    Social Profit Network No
    Soroptimist International Yes
    Southern Africa Enterprise Development Fund Inc Yes
    Synergos Institute Inc No
    TechnoServe Yes
    The Green Belt Movement International Yes
    The Hunger Project Yes
    The International Alliance for Women Yes
    The Zakat Foundation of America Yes
    Tostan Yes
    TransFair USA Yes
    Trees for Life Yes
    Trees for the Future No
    Trickle Up Yes
    Trustafrica Yes
    United Nations Foundation No
    VisionTrust International No
    Vital Voices Global Partnership Yes
    Wings of Hope Yes
    World Cocoa Foundation Yes
    World Concern Development Organization Yes
    World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. Yes
    World Vision Yes