Upaya Social Ventures - Assessing poverty outreach of Job Creation Initiatives >
Upaya Social Ventures creates dignified jobs for the poorest of the poor in India by building scalable businesses with investment and consulting support. To date, we have invested in 12 businesses that have collectively created over 4,100 jobs for people living in marginalized communities.
1. When did your organization start using the PPI, and why? What was the need you were hoping to address?
We have encouraged all our investees to use the PPI from day one. Because our mandate is to reach and serve the poorest of the poor, we wanted an objective assessment to ensure we were targeting those living in extreme poverty.
2. How does your organization use the PPI? To measure poverty outreach? To improve social performance (targeting or product/service design)? To track changes?
We use the PPI to determine poverty outreach and to track changes over time. After we make the decision to invest in a business, we conduct a baseline survey of prospective job holders to understand their current conditions and poverty level. We find that most have low PPI scores, and therefore a high likelihood of living in extreme poverty. Once the individual has maintained the job — ideally at the two-year mark – we conduct another PPI survey. We compare the poverty rate of job holders at this two-year mark with baseline poverty rates to assess the progress that has been made.
3. Does your organization collect PPI data directly from households, or do you get PPI data reported to you from partners/investees?
Because our investees are generally very early stage, resource-constrained companies, we help collect PPI data and other survey information directly from households. Often, Upaya employs interns or enumerators to collect this information in the field and report it back to us for analysis. All the information is shared with our investees before it is shared externally.
4. What did PPI data tell you that you didn’t already know? What actions has your organization taken as a result of what you've learned from the PPI data? For example, have you made changes to your product offerings, your client base, or your business model? Or chosen to invest or partner with organizations differently?
What we like about the PPI is that it considers multiple dimensions of poverty, but boils this down into an easy-to-understand score. It is very easy to assess whether the poverty rate of households is increasing or decreasing over time, indicating progress or lack thereof. We also analyze which PPI indicators have changed leading to increased scores. For example, we find that a lot of our households purchase new assets as soon as they increase their income, or start working in a more regular job. Popular asset purchases include mobile phones, bicycles, cooking utensils, and/or TVs. We find that other indicators – such as the quality of material used for housing – lag a bit more. Sometimes, our job holders are slower to improve the quality of their housing than we had expected; we share an observation like this with our investees and encourage them to offer support to their job holders if it can help improve these indicators faster. For example, one of our investees experimented with a policy that allowed for a salary advance to job holders wanting to make critical home improvements.
5. Is PPI helping you to achieve your goals? What impact do you think PPI has had on your organization and/or its beneficiaries? How many people do you think have benefited from your organization’s use of the PPI?
The PPI has helped us ensure that we are, in fact, targeting extremely poor populations in our program interventions. It provides a more objective measure of our outreach and is helpful to use when communicating with our stakeholders. It also provides us with a quantitative measure to gauge progress out of poverty over time and make an apples-to-apples comparison across all the businesses in our portfolio.
6. Discuss the difficulties you faced (or still face!) when using the PPI. How are you solving them?
We have struggled with reconciling old and new versions of the PPI. For example, when we administered the PPI to our investees in 2011, 2012, and 2013 we had used the 2009 version of the PPI for India. Since then, the PPI has been updated and some of the questions have changed. The more recent investees in our portfolio have used this updated version of the PPI. Now when we are doing cross portfolio analysis, it does not seem that the older poverty estimates can be compared with the newer poverty estimates. So we probably cannot compare client poverty rates of our old and new investees. We would really appreciate guidance on this issue from the PPI team.