Words by Nicola Coakley. Photos by Eugenia Ricardez, Anne-Mieke Buursink, and Katrina Perry.
At the end of last year, we celebrated En Vía’s 5th birthday. As we head into the new year, and the organization’s 6th year, we are excited to have the opportunity to reflect on En Vía’s growth and development and to look ahead with the launch of a new initiative. Through the generosity of the En Vía community, we are almost ready to launch a new Impact Assessment program. The kickoff of this program comes at a critical time for us, as our programs have grown and transformed greatly over the past 5 years. We have grown to include new communities and have been able to reach many more women and their families. Our business courses have evolved thanks to feedback from the women in our program as well as the team’s commitment to providing relevant educational opportunities alongside interest-free credit. Due to interest from program participants and the dedication and initiative of staff and volunteers, we have also implemented several new and exciting community initiatives and projects.
We are thrilled to have grown so significantly and dynamically, and we think now is the time to take steps to ensure that we are responsibly managing this growth. Through the Impact Assessment program, we will take a deeper look at the impact our programs have had so far for our borrowers, and their businesses, families, and communities. We will incorporate monitoring and evaluation practices as a key part of our microfinance, education, responsible tourism, and community initiative programs. This will allow us to better understand to what extent each of our programs is achieving its intended results and which of our practices need improvement. Our goal is to make more informed decisions that improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our program activities so that we can better serve the entrepreneurs we work with.
The launch of the Impact Assessment program will mean an in-depth investigation of our program activities. We do not take lightly how complex this will be. One of the first tasks of this program will be to determine which performance indicators (economic, social, and otherwise) will be the most relevant and practical for us to measure. We recognize that each of the communities we work in is unique and that each entrepreneur we support has her own distinct set of goals, challenges, and successes in her business and household. In our upcoming blogposts, we will be sharing with you the impact stories of a few of our program participants. Stay tuned for more stories about what En Vía’s impact can look like on the ground, and check out our crowdfunding campaign page to learn more about why this initiative is so important.