social impact

Evaluating Social Impact

Posted on February 6, 2011 by Tara Thiagarajan in Microfinance, Physics of Poverty, Writing. 2 comments

For people engaged in the social entrepreneurship space, one of the most difficult questions is how to measure the positive social impact you make. How do you know you’re doing net social good?

What we typically do is assume that our product has intrinsic positive social value and so simply measure how many people have used our product or service. Then we make grand statements like ‘We have positively touched a million lives’. For some products this might be all it takes. Take solar lanterns, for instance, a solar alternative to kerosene lamps that is cheaper, brighter and healthier. A simple count of product sales in un-electrified areas might be a pretty reasonable indicator. For many other products and services though it is far more ambiguous. Microfinance, pharmaceuticals, health services, education. All of these have great potential for good but also … Read More »

Driving more productive interactions

Posted on September 23, 2010 by Tara Thiagarajan in Uncategorized. 3 comments

Very excited that the film Shakti Pirakkudhu (Shakti Rising) that has been in the works for three years now is finally done – this week! The goal of this film is to seed different thinking among the rural poor and raise their aspirations. We have a bunch of by invitation pre-release screenings planned around the country (India) in October and will post a schedule here soon. In the United States, the film will have its premier screening at SALTAF (South Asian Theater and Literary Arts Festival) on Nov 13 at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.

Below is the synopsis and trailer but you can learn more from the website:India USA

SynopsisSundari is a young mother of two in a small village in South India. She has an opportunity to get a microfinance loan and wants to use … Read More »

Microfinance, money flow and social impact

Posted on May 1, 2010 by Tara Thiagarajan in Blog, Microfinance, Writing. 1 Comment

The traditional thinking in microfinance is that it is a way to help people extricate themselves from the clutches of local moneylenders who charge exorbitant interest rates. As microfinance institutions, we believe, that by charging less we are doing great social service. Typically, when academics study the impact of microfinance, they look at people who have received microfinance compared to people who haven’t in order to see who is better off across various dimensions. Evidence suggests that even if individual borrowers are not actually making profits that exceed the interest charges, they might do better on other dimensions that relate to patterns of consumptions. Access to a lump sum of money at once, for instance, allows borrowers to afford goods and services they would otherwise not be able to that give them a better quality of life. However, if we … Read More »