On July 20, 2018, Kate Cochran and Sachi Shenoy, gave an update on Upaya's portfolio and jobholder metrics at the Upaya Breakfast Briefing, hosted at Global Washington. Watch a recording of the event which was streamed live on Facebook!
Five years. Over 4,000 jobs created. Nearly 200,000 lives changed. And solid evidence that these jobholders are making progress out of extreme poverty!
For any entrepreneur – especially social entrepreneurs – it is critical to collect feedback from the people you are serving.
According to a new World Bank report, 114 million people worldwide moved out of extreme poverty in 2013, accelerating an overall positive trend that researchers have observed over the past two decades. There is much to celebrate: as stated in the report, “the world had almost 1.1 billion fewer poor in 2013 than in 1990, a period in which the world population grew by almost 1.9 billion people.”
India in recent years has made remarkable strides, and is a significant contributor to this trend. Just five years ago, around the time Upaya was getting off the ground, we lamented the fact that experts a few years earlier reported over 400 million people living in abject poverty in India. This put the country on par with — or even exceeding — the same numbers reported for all of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa combined.
Today, India as a country still houses the largest number of people living in extreme poverty, but this figure is now estimated to be 224 million. Economic growth, increased employment, and rising incomes have all contributed to this progress. We at Upaya are proud to play our role in encouraging inclusive growth, and nurturing the development of investable businesses that create lasting, dignified employment for the most marginalized communities.
The World Bank deems a household living under $1.90/day as living in extreme poverty. Upaya ensures that the jobs it helps create pay incomes in excess of this amount. But just as important as the increase in income is ensuring the regularity and stability of that income stream. Households that remain mired in abject poverty are often reliant on cobbling together “odd jobs” in the informal economy – manual labor, trash collection, and even begging when nothing productive materializes – to make ends meet. On a good day, there is work to be had and a wage earned. On a bad day, there is no work, and hence no income. An entire family goes to bed hungry, anxiously hoping that its luck will improve tomorrow. This erratic and uneven and unpredictable existence does not allow a household to build a firm economic foundation and move out of poverty.
In keeping with our mission to create dignified jobs for the poorest of the poor, Upaya from day one has been committed to not only track how many jobs have been created, but also monitor how incomes have improved, and how these incomes have helped previously destitute families make improvements to their quality of life. We refer to this practice of collecting, assessing, and reporting data as social performance management (SPM), and this activity over the years has yielded invaluable insights for our entrepreneurs and other stakeholders. Are households making progress out of poverty in the ways we expect? If not, are there refinements we can make to our interventions to effect better outcomes?
This week, we are releasing a report for Maitri Livelihood Services, one of our partner businesses working in the Northeast states of West Bengal and Assam. Maitri provides skill development, training, and job placement opportunities in the domestic work sector for women from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Traditionally, women working as housekeepers, cooks, nannies, and at-home nurses have dealt with highly informal work arrangements. It was not uncommon for employers to delay compensation to workers, negotiate below-market wages, and deny workers basic rights in terms of number of hours or working conditions. Maitri is bringing much needed structure and formality to this sector: women who are trained and placed in affluent households are guaranteed a steady and reliable income, an assurance of their rights and safety, and proper recourse in case of any conflict.
Our report demonstrates that Maitri jobholders do indeed benefit from increased, reliable income. It also points to improvements these households are able to make to their quality of life as a result -- such as being able to afford formal electricity and gas connections. The household is less likely to live in extreme poverty the longer a jobholder maintains her relationship with Maitri. We fully expect to see positive improvements in other indicators as time passes, such as housing quality, asset purchases and savings patterns.
In the coming weeks, we plan to release reports for two other partner businesses, Saahas and ElRhino, as well as a year-end portfolio wide assessment. Preliminary findings reveal significant improvements to household income, job satisfaction, and overall well-being. We view these developments as critically important components in our continued fight against extreme poverty. Knowledge is indeed power … studying the exciting progress our jobholders make over time, and listening closely to their feedback and ideas, allows us to fully engage these hard-working, ambitious women and men and empower them to build pathways to a better life on their own terms.
During the summer of 2014, the Upaya staff and Tamul Plates management began work on this Social Performance report to document the economic and social background of the company’s beneficiaries. This report provides a snapshot of social metrics for 95 of Tamul Plates’ beneficiaries, serving as the baseline for reporting their progress out of poverty over time.
Surveyors interviewed Tamul Plates beneficiaries across ten districts of Northeast India. For the purposes of this report, the respondents were broken into two geographic groups - the Lower Assam Group and the Upper Assam Group. Beneficiaries were evaluated across key social and economic metrics, including income, education, assets, and expenditure. Among the highlights:
- Households in the Lower Assam Group have a higher likelihood of falling below the $1.25-a-day poverty line than those in the Upper Assam Group. In particular, leaf plate producers (32 percent in the Lower Assam Group, and 36 percent in the Upper Assam Group) and raw material collectors (28 percent in both respondent groups) are the most likely to fall below the poverty line among Tamul Plates beneficiaries.
- Leaf plate producers are highly dependent on Tamul Plates, with income from Tamul Plates-related activities constituting the primary source of income for a vast majority of households across the Lower and Upper Assam Groups.
- Households spend roughly 50 percent of their total monthly expenses on food alone. Expenditure on school for children and miscellaneous (unplanned) expenses form the next two biggest categories. Savings constitute a very small component of total expense for households at 6–7 percent.
A midline (check-in) survey will be conducted after 12 months for the same group of beneficiaries to measure the changes in income levels and quality-of-life indicators. Click here to download the full report.
With 2013 in the books, it is time to take a look back at a year of growth for Upaya.
Click the image to download the organization's 2013 Annual Report.
In November 2012, Upaya initiated a partnership with Bhagalpur-based start-up Eco Kargha Marketing Pvt. Ltd., a company working to improve the lives of rural weavers through the production and sales of traditional handloom products. Surveyed in mid-2013, this Baseline Social Metrics report provides a snapshot of social metrics for 119 weavers working with Eco Kargha at the time of their hire, serving as a baseline for reporting their progress out of poverty.
The data in this report was collected before these households started their employment with Eco Kargha, and prior to receiving their new income stream. Before Eco Kargha was established, the only option open to these weavers was to sell their products to local wholesale agents and receive devastatingly low margins and irregular payments. Due to the uncertainty of demand from these traders they would end up with little to no work - especially in the summer months.
Among the report’s findings:
- While only 15% of households live under the $1.25 a day extreme poverty line, the per capita earnings are just $0.49 per day for each member of the average five-person household.
- For most of the households weaving not only employs a majority of their family members, but its contribution in the family pool of income is also the highest.
- The majority of houses include one form of sturdy building material – either wall or roof – however 89% are categorized as “semi-pucca,” meaning that quality materials are augmented with mud or thatch.
- Food expenditures consume 85% of the average weaving household income, which is 30 percentage points higher than the Indian national average.
The business generated by Eco Kargha comes as a shot in the arm for weaving households, increasing household earnings and allowing them to rely on their craft as their primary source of income, year round. Subsequent metrics reports will track these households’ progress and report on improvements in their quality of life as a result of these new jobs.
Committed to rural transformation, MokshaYug Access (MYA), the company behind the brand MILK ROUTE, in association with Upaya Social Ventures, released its first Social Performance Metrics report for 2012-2013. MYA undertook this evaluation to measure the social impact of its dairy business and assess the benefits MILK ROUTE has had on the lives of dairy farmers. The survey was conducted over a course of four months in 2012 and covered a total of 1,486 households across 269 villages in the districts of Tumkur, Mandya and Kolar.
According to key findings of the survey:
- MILK ROUTE households reported a 24% higher average per capita income when compared to their counterparts (Control Group households).
- By virtue of access to high quality cattle feed and veterinary services, MILK ROUTE households produced milk that consistently beat the industry’s average yield parameters, as measured by percentage fat and non-fat solids. These higher yields provided an additional 10% in earnings per litre for the households.
- MILK ROUTE households were also able to provide, on average, 5.5 more litres of milk per month to their children compared to households that were not suppliers of the MILK ROUTE dairy. The choice to consume more at home versus selling the milk demonstrated greater income security in general.
- As a result of increased, regular and transparent compensation combined with a support system that included access to training, high quality feed, and veterinary services— nearly 41% of all MILK ROUTE households reported dairy as their primary livelihood versus 25% of households before MILK ROUTE was introduced.
Harsha Moily, Founder and CEO, MokshaYug Access said, “One of MYA’s key objectives is to create income certainty for the farmers through our First-mile focus. It is encouraging to know that our efforts of transforming rural households are paying off. The social performance metrics survey helped us analyze our progress in our farmer centric approach and also helped us understand the gaps and what we need to do next to take this to the next level.”
Sachi Shenoy, Executive Director, Upaya Social Ventures added, “We believe in partnering with businesses that transform lives by creating dignified job opportunities. It is encouraging to see that MYA has had an impact on the lives of so many dairy farmers in Karnataka. This is just the beginning and we look forward to growing our association with MYA.”
METHODOLOGY: The data collection for MILK ROUTE involved both quantitative and qualitative approaches and relied on the usage of standard survey tools to directly collect and assimilate data from farmers. The SPM evaluation was carried out in three districts of Karnataka, namely Kolar, Mandya, and Tumkur. A total of 1,486 households were surveyed from 269 villages and fall into one of two groups: those who are suppliers of the MILK ROUTE dairy and those who are not (Control Group).
The process of narrowing down which MILK ROUTE households to survey included three tiers of selection criteria. In the first tier, milk procurement estimates were taken for each district to help in the selection of MILK ROUTE villages. Based on the percentage of milk procured from each district, a proportional number of sample villages were selected. Thus, 49% of the MILK ROUTE households were selected from Tumkur, 40% from Kolar, and 11% from Mandya, which roughly aligns with the fact that 48% of the total milk collected by MILK ROUTE comes from Tumkur, 44% from Kolar, and 8% from Mandya. In the second tier, the selection of individual villages was further qualified through purposive sampling. The only villages eligible for selection were ones that provided over 80 litres of milk per day to MYA. The third tier involved a random selection of households based on the short list of villages prepared through purposive sampling.
Control Group villages were selected in order to establish a proxy baseline to aid and assist in comparison. The selection of Control Group villages was completed through a matching process. This exercise involved each MILK ROUTE village being matched to a Control Group village based on key parameters such as economic activity, demographic profile, access to infrastructure, and distance to the nearest city. The selection of Control Group households was also purposive, i.e. those who did not own cattle were screened out.
To download a copy of the report,
Upaya’s 2012 Annual Report is now available(Right click > "Save As..." to download).
Click to Download the Report
In August 2011, Upaya initiated a partnership with Samridhi Agri-Products to create steady employment for households living on less than $1.25 a day. Surveyed in early July 2012, this Midline Social Metrics report provides a snapshot of the progress out of poverty made by Samridhi’s 55 longest tenured employees.
Before Samridhi’s arrival, these families could only rely on hard manual labor on construction sites or working someone else’s land to earn a meager living. One year later, Samridhi has created 104 new jobs rearing and milking dairy animals for ultra poor families who did not previously own cows or goats of their own. The company has also improved the livelihoods of an additional 220 dairy farming families in the same villages by providing higher, more reliable payments than the local middle men.
For the purpose of this report, the employees have been separated into two groups. Group A includes those who joined the company in 2011, and Group B includes those who joined in the first three months of 2012. For both groups, baseline metrics (those collected prior to employment) and midline metrics (collected as of July 2012) are presented side-by-side for comparison. We are happy to report that both Group A and B have made good progress along certain indicators and we are seeing improvements to their quality of life.
- Both Groups A and B have seen an 80% reduction in households living below the $1.25 a day extreme poverty line.
- Group A’s average daily food expenditure quadrupled to nearly $0.81 following a 78% increase in households’ average daily income. Group B saw a similar rate of increase, with a 24% increase in income producing a 49% increase in average daily spending on food.
- Both groups report consuming a greater variety of grains and vegetables in the home.
You can download the full report here.
In August of 2011, Upaya formalized its partnership with Samridhi Agri-Products to create steady employment for extremely poor women living on less than $1.25 per day. Through the LiftUP Project, Upaya is helping Samridhi develop scalable dairy operations and create hundreds of salaried jobs throughout Uttar Pradesh. In turn, these new positions will increase and stabilize household income for employees.
This Social Indicator Baseline provides a snapshot of the living conditions for women employed by Samridhi at the time of their hire, and serves as a baseline for their progress out of poverty. Data will be gathered and reported on a semi-annual basis as a way of demonstrating positive change throughout the partnership.