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Experiences and insights in social impact data collection for SMEs across sectors and geographies (via telephone and WhatsApp)

Yaquta Fatehi May 18, 2021

We at William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan (WDI), along with our data collection partners – Dalberg Research and 60Decibels – will share our experience collecting social impact data for five case studies to develop the evidence base for gender lens investing.

WDI is conducting this research for the Gender Smart Enterprise Assistance Research Coalition (G-SEARCh), which comprises six like-minded impact investors committed to promoting gender equity as a core business principle across their portfolios. AlphaMundi Foundation is the lead administrator of this initiative, and members include Acumen, AHL Venture Partners, Root Capital, SEAF and Shell Foundation.

In the session, we will share key celebrations and challenges of collecting data from men and women customers and employees of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), working across sector and geographies, namely, Latin America, East Africa and South Asia. Our goal is to understand stakeholder outcomes from gender-inclusive technical assistance activities implemented by the SMEs, such as mentoring, counselling, use of adapted financial and non-financial products, gender-smart aftercare service etc. Such data is critical to measuring impact and just as critical for adapting operations to VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) realities on the ground to build back better, especially given the pandemic. What makes our data collection trickier than usual is our laser-sharp focus on social outcome data rather than simply output data; and secondly, to counter COVID-19 challenges, our administration of qualitative and quantitative questions over a telephone. We will also share how we co-created indicators with our partners, tested surveys, and trained enumerators on gender-sensitization techniques to share power equitably among our key stakeholders and robustly capture the voice of often marginalized communities. What’s even more exciting is that in this session, WDI will also share how we are using the WhatsApp platform to supplement our data collection through affordable, automated surveys that feel like an interactive conversation with our respondents. Consider this your foremost outcome measurement capacity building session at SOCAP 2021!



Meta Themes

  • Equity & Inclusion

  • Impact Investing

  • Sustainable Development


Purpose and Desired Outcome

Attendees will gain insights and best practices on collecting outcome-level data to measure the impact of their business operations accurately on their key stakeholders. While the impact-investing sector places a spotlight on data itself, it often de-prioritizes and overlooks the process of collecting accurate data, resulting in the use of poor quality data for decision-making, ultimately leading to faulty results. Academia and researchers are also often guilty of using jargon and unnecessarily complex design that leave SME founders, staff, and investors confused and annoyed on measurement processes. Our goal in this session is to cut through the noise and give a safe space for audience members to understand the difficulties and joys of collecting social outcome data. We aim to equip and motivate our attendees to do this at their own organizations. Attendees will also have the opportunity to raise their own challenges for discussion and problem-solving. And finally, WDI will introduce the audience to our experience on survey administration directly via WhatsApp – not just a messaging app for 2 billion active users worldwide, but now also an affordable and viable data collection platform.


  • Corporate & SME

  • Academia

  • Accelerators & Incubators


  • NameTeresa Dacha
  • TitleResearch Manager
  • OrganizationDalberg Research
  • StatusConfirmed
  • NameAshley Speyer
  • TitleHead of Research Operations
  • Organization60 Decibels
  • StatusConfirmed
  • NameYaquta Fatehi
  • TitleProgram Manager
  • OrganizationWilliam Davidson Institute at U. of Michigan (WDI)
  • StatusConfirmed
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