2019 has been a special year in the Reach for Change journey. Gearing up for our ten year anniversary in 2020 we have been prompted to evaluate what we have learned on this journey. We have also gotten started with the very important task of deciding what kind of impact we want to have as an organisation during the next ten years.
While continuing to drive impact across all our geographies through our pre-incubator, incubator and business readiness programmes, I am excited to see how our team continues to push new boundaries - with critical advocacy work and ecosystem work. I am also proud of how we have been able to push the needle on some of the key structural inequalities in our society today through unleashing the power of social entrepreneurship.
CEO, Reach for Change
Around the world, millions of children’s needs are not being met, and social entrepreneurs who are eager and able to help lack the support they need to scale their impact. Reach for Change is helping to bridge this support gap to empower high-potential social ventures to develop faster, better and with lower risk of failure.
In 2019 we invested 4.6M USD in support programs for social entrepreneurs in 13 countries.
To help the social entrepreneurs develop and scale their solutions to impact more children, we offered:
In addition to running development programs, we cultivated the ecosystem for social entrepreneurship.
We incubated in total 120 social ventures, of which**:
We aim for our incubator participants to build the organizational and financial capabilities to scale. In 2019, the SEs in our incubator program achieved
Our long-term goal is that our alumni scale their impact to a significant share of their target group, contributing to the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals for children and youth.
*Including 9 rapid scale program participants
**Output results are exclusive to incubator participants and do not include the 9 rapid scale program participants
Our medium-term goal is that our social ventures develop effective solutions for children and youth and become ready to scale. More specifically our goals that, by the end of their third year in the incubator, our social ventures:
A Have proven an effective solution for children and youth
B Are ready to financially sustain their operations at scale
C Have strong leadership and a team ready for scale
D Have initiated impact scaling
E Have begun carrying out systems change activities (if applicable)
Each year, we monitor our social ventures’ development towards the targeted outcomes through a before and after assessment i.e. at the start and end of each incubator year. The indicator we use is Number of milestones achieved, where a milestone is an activity to complete or a result to achieve on the path towards the targeted outcome. In the graph below, milestones are symbolized by the pink boxes.
Milestone achievement is assessed in dialogue between our in-country Program Manager and the social entrepreneur. For several of the milestones our global Impact Team validates the assessment by reviewing empirical evidence.
The results below are results for our short-term outcomes. Our ambition for the upcoming year is to set proper indicators for our medium-term outcomes, mentioned under targeted outcomes above, so that we can effectively monitor and evaluate them as well.
Pink line — The “before assessment” (baseline) i.e. the average number of milestones achieved by our social ventures in January 2019
Dark blue line — The target, i.e. the average number of milestones that we aimed for our social ventures to reach in 2019*
Light blue line — The “after assessment” (endline), i.e. the average number of milestones reached by our social ventures in December 2019
Note: If all our social ventures had achieved 100% of the targeted milestones, there would have been a perfect alignment between the dark blue and light blue line in the spider chart.
*For area E Systems Change we did not set targets in 2019 since we wanted to first gain a better understanding of what targets will be realistic in relation to the stage of development of the SEs entering our programs.
91% of our social ventures developed* within at least one of the five areas during 2019, and 38% developed within four or five areas. They were able to check off on average 10 new milestones and achieved on average 67% of the targeted milestones across all areas.
We observe that the area where social entrepreneurs achieve the most new milestones (on average 3 new milestones) is area A Effective solution and the fewest (on average 0.8 new milestones) in area E System Change.
*91 of 120 SE assessed, excluding (a) 13 SE who participated in the Incubator less than 8 months, (b) 9 SE who followed a different program and (c) 7 SE who submitted data after deadline. Distribution between incubator years: 35 SE in their 1st year, 35 SE in their 2nd year and 22 SE in their 3rd+ year.
Our targeted long-term outcome is that our alumni (the social ventures that have graduated from the incubator) scale their impact to a significant share of their target group and contribute to fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals for children and youth. Based on the results of our most recent alumni survey, we see that 9 out of 10 continue to operate*.
The 3-year survival rate of supported social entrepreneurs after graduating from our Incubator program is 88%. This is comparable to the average 3-year survival rate of incubators and innovation centers in the European Business and Innovation Centre Network (EBN, 89%**).
*Data regarding survival rate for 156 out of 184 Alumni gathered between
Dec 2019-Feb 2020. 52 Alumni responded to our Alumni survey in Dec 2019.
**EBN is an established not-for-profit international association of incubators, innovation centres, clusters and other intermediaries who help innovative startups and SMEs develop their innovative businesses. Their data includes 122 incubators and innovation centers. Source: The EU|BIC Impact and Activity Report 2018, https://ebn.eu/eubic-impact-study/
Our social ventures aim to impact children and youth in many different ways. The below split is based on the impact that our social ventures aimed to achieve in the short term, i.e. during activities carried out in 2019, ranging from lives improved to lives changed to lives protected.
A life improved in the short term can mean a life changed or protected in the medium term or long term. For example, the Bulgarian social venture Love Guide provides sex education to youth with one of the purposes being raised awareness about the importance of using protection during sex. In the short term this improves lives but in the medium and long term, for a share of the youth, this is likely to mean that unwanted teenage pregnancies are avoided (lives changed) or that serious STDs such as HIV are averted (lives protected).
In the split below, the impact targeted and potentially achieved beyond 2019 is not accounted for, so the largest slice of the graph is lives improved.
450,031 children and youth (89%) received support to empower them with useful knowledge, awareness, attitudes, etc.
Love Guide (Bulgaria) provides sex education to youth
48,120 children and youth (10%) received support to reroute them onto a better path.
Ordblindetræning (Denmark) which teaches children with dyslexia to read
3,836 children and youth (1%) received support to protect them from a dangerous situation.
Eagle Social Consultancy Service (Ethiopia) which protects children from abusive teaching methods
Erk Mead provides psychological care to Ethiopians, suffering from different forms of mental disorder.
Science School Laboratorium offers summer science camps and weekly lessons in physics and chemistry.
Locker Room Talk offers training and tools in equality, fair attitudes and masculinity.
Life with Down syndrome offers entertaining and informative video clips that invite viewers to learn what it is really like to have a child with Down syndrome.
When considering success, there are many things we could look at, but ultimately what we care most about is the extent to which we are seeing improvements in our targeted short and long term outcome results.
For us this means we look at three things below:
All ventures we invest in must have what we believe to be the potential to scale their impact to a significant portion of the target group. Achieving this however takes time and the ventures we support are right at the beginning of their journeys. Because of this, we realistically expect somewhere between 10-20% of our investments to achieve impact at scale.
According to our 2019 Alumni Survey 15% state they have reached a significant or major share of the target group. This result falls right in the middle of our realistic expectation range of 10-20% which is good, but “realistic expectations” don’t really do it for us, so we are motivated to drive this higher as we move forward.
By combining our development tracker data with the data we receive from the annual Change Leader survey we are now able to build quite a rounded picture of the extent to which our support is improving.
When looking at the year-end results in conjunction with the overall satisfaction score (up to 87% from 84% in 2018) and the net promoter score (up to 88% from 84% in 2018), we’re confident that our support took a positive step forward in 2019, though of course only time will tell whether the program changes we implemented will lead to the longer term impact we are pursuing.
In 2017 we set a target that ultimately all Social Entrepreneurs being brought into our
Incubator should receive a 100% score on our Investment Readiness Diagnostic prior
to selection. In 2019 the average score was 91% (up from 89% in 2018).
We are pleased with the result but will continue to invest significant effort in trying to drive improvements here. In terms of levers of change, the initial investment decision is possibly the most critical part of the puzzle.
In last year’s impact report we said that the value of impact measurement
really comes down to the extent to which it produces results
that are useful for learning and development.
At the micro level, our 2019 results have helped shine spotlights on what is working well and on where there are needs and opportunities for development.
At the macro level, they have helped raise a number of new questions, each of which we look forward to trying to answer in 2020.
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