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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.
- We announced the grant on our blog and contacted organizations in early August, 2009.
- We considered 157 organizations for this grant. 49 applied. We split the grant evenly between two organizations: the Village Enterprise Fund and the Small Enterprise Foundation.
- Available online are:
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|
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.
|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:
- 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.
- Could provide a compelling impact study demonstrating effect of programs on clients' standards of living.
- Could demonstrate that it was using donations to create profitable programs.
- 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.
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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|Outreach International||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|
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
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