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Data Collection in Times of Crisis – A Recap from ANDE’s Annual Metrics Conference

Data Collection in Times of Crisis – A Recap from ANDE’s Annual Metrics Conference

As part of ANDE’s annual metrics conference, Alice Waweru of Technoserve, a capacity development organization supporting microentrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, and Brianna Losoya-Evora of SEAF’s technical assistance arm, the Center for Entrepreneurship and Executive Development (CEED), led a discussion on how to collect data from entrepreneurs on November 5. Both SEAF and Technoserve have faced similar challenges and developed innovative solutions for collecting data from entrepreneurs. This session provided an opportunity for the community of practice to share best practices and reflect on how the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated data collection challenges.

Low response rates are perceived as the most significant hurdle facing capacity development organizations, but plenty of associated challenges, such as cost management and data validation, were discussed as well, as summarized in the table below.

By the end of the session, some key outstanding questions remained, which may lay the groundwork for 2021 debates, including:

A balance between cost and utility

Ivy Syovata, CEO of Incubator Nest Hub raised the vital point that data collection costs time and resources, so striking a balance between rigor and utility is critical. Naturally, that is easier said than done. How do we distinguish a nice-to-have data point from one that is mission-critical?

How can we promote an information exchange instead of a one-way information flow?

Asgar Bhikoo, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist at the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, aptly pointed out that, “Power, position and clout affect response rates. But the magic ingredient in getting responses? Relational clout and utility.”

In addition to leveraging relationships and building trust, showing entrepreneurs how their data will be used can be much more effective than telling them. Entrepreneur reports are one option, but are there others we have not yet thought of?

How can we leverage public data sources like GALI to create entrepreneur reports?

Hedda Ngan, Monitoring, Learning and Evaluation Officer at Ygap agreed that entrepreneur reports could be very effective in promoting information exchange but questioned what data, and especially what publically available data, might be provided in these reports.

CEED used enterprise-level data from the Global Accelerator Learning Initiative (GALI) to benchmark entrepreneurs against other companies in their region, sector, or country. You can see an example here.

How can we make these entrepreneur reports useful?

CEED is still testing whether its entrepreneur reports contain vital information for members or if the outputs are merely interesting. What if this report could help entrepreneurs gain access to financing? Could providing feedback loops reinforce ANDE member efforts to scale small and growing businesses?

In the end, collecting data from entrepreneurs is inherently challenging. Rather than focusing on data collection, it may be time to reframe the problem as facilitating information exchange between ANDE members and the entrepreneurs we aim to serve. While this year’s session did not solve every challenge or answer every question, we were glad to contribute to the ongoing industry dialogue for improvement — not to mention identify some key leads for ANDE’s 2021 Metrics Conference.

To learn more about Technoserve and SEAF use their data read CEED’s 2019 Impact Report and TechnoServe’s 2019 Impact Report.