I recently had the opportunity to to represent IGD on a panel titled “Transformative Technology” at the Agribusiness & Food World Forum in Cape Town, South Africa, where conversations focused on the changes that are sweeping African agriculture. My co-panelists, representing Vodafone, Standard Bank, Google Inc., Columbia University, and the International Trade Centre (ITC), highlighted technologies that are revolutionizing African agribusiness. It was really exciting to hear about the innovations that these companies are generating that are not only creating real financial returns, but are also having a significant social and economic impact on communities and economies.
Alongside discussion of these technologies, our conversation emphasized the importance of measuring the impact of technologies, and of investigating how technology is transforming the agricultural landscape at a macro level, operationally, and on the ground in terms of impacting SHF livelihoods. Companies within IGD’s network are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of measuring and understanding the impact their products and services have on communities, customers, and other stakeholders, and here are three reasons why your business should too:
1. Inform new ideas and opportunities for growth and investment
Any business can utilize impact measurement to inform new ventures and investments and identify opportunities where impact can be magnified. Companies can use impact measurement to shape business strategies and create more efficient methods of doing business, even in the formative stages of implementation.
A good example of a project grounded in foresight was IGD’s work with Visa Inc. on measuring the impact of their strategic partnership with the Government of Rwanda on financial inclusion. By evaluating the actual and potential impact of Visa’s new mobile-payment system, mVisa, a number of opportunities were identified to further expand reach and enhance utilization of the mVisa platform. For example, Visa Inc. was able to recognize an opportunity to expand mVisa’s impact and customer base by working with banks and microfinance institutions to develop new products and services (like loans and credit facilities) for smallholder farmers utilizing the mVisa platform.
2. Identify product improvement or replication in various markets
Impact measurement is a true game-changer when it comes to developing a robust, holistic understanding of your company’s niche. Shannon Lucas, Vodafone’s Enterprise Innovation Manager, made this clear when she outlined the process of developing and testing new technologies in specific markets, explaining that companies must first engage with local players, then find partners, then test in the field, and finally, gain feedback. It is critical for businesses to evaluate the impact they’re having to not only ensure they are enhancing their ROI, but also creating sustainable investments whereby both the end-user and the companies’ interests are being serviced.
3. Engage more constructively with stakeholders
Demonstrating the benefits of emerging business models and technologies through impact measurement can also enhance a company’s position in gaining buy-in from customers, government, and other stakeholders, generating more opportunities and enhancing future impact. By measuring impact, businesses are able to better understand how their objectives are affecting the industries and communities in which they operate, allowing businesses to sustain meaningful partnerships with local stakeholders by aligning their social and economic objectives. Additionally, measuring impact allows a company to better articulate its business narrative; it’s important to remember that a good narrative needs to describe impact, not just output. Impact measurement also gives businesses investing in Africa a competitive advantage by continuously incorporating IGD’s findings into their operating model.
IGD sees investment in impact measurement as critical for business success and encourages companies to evaluate a baseline position of any start-up or development phase to enable assessment against future impact. Follow the link for more information on IGD’s corporate impact measurement approach, igdIMPACT.