Meet CARE at SOCAP 2016!






SOCAP16 will gather impact investors, social entrepreneurs, foundations, corporations, global nonprofits, and other valuable strangers all contributing to a vibrant marketplace for socially, environmentally and economically sustainable solutions in San Francisco  September 13-16, 2016. These are part of the Impact Hub Global Network, a global changemaker community and network of co-working spaces with over 11,000+ members in over 70 locations

This annual flagship event is the leading gathering for impact investors and social entrepreneurs. The focus is on cross-sector convening and gathers voices across a broad spectrum to catalyze impactful connections. SOCAP16 provides three full days of information, inspiration and connection with like-minded entrepreneurs, investors, collaborators and thought-leaders.


CARE will be there! Our very own Whitney Adams, Senior Technical Advisor for Design & Innovation for the CARE Impact Accelerator, is attending and Marilia Bezerra, Managing Partner of CARE Enterprise Inc. (CEI), is a panelist on the “The Frontlines of Blended Finance: INGOs Combining Philanthropic and Investment Capital” panel during SOCAP Open. It’s from 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM on Thursday, September 15!

This panel will bring together leading international NGOs to discuss lessons for impact entrepreneurs raising philanthropic capital or creating blended finance models. The non-profits represent diverse experiences blending philanthropy and investment including: CARE, which transitioned a donor-funded project into an independent company; Mercy Corps, which uses philanthropic capital to invest in early-stage enterprises; Winrock, which is creating environmental impact bonds; and World Vision, which launched a private company to support their economic development programming. Each speaker will focus their comments on the implications and lessons learned for impact entrepreneurs seeking to create raise philanthropic capital or create a blended finance model.

CARE will  specifically describe their experience transitioning two traditional, donor-funded CARE projects into separate, independently operated social enterprises – JITA in Bangladesh and LiveWell in Zambia and the critical role that blended capital is playing in that transition.

Please stay tuned for a recap blog after SOCAP 16 San Francisco September 13-16!

What’s the “poison pill” that prevents pilots from going to scale?

What’s the “poison pill” that prevents pilots from going to scale? According to scaling expert Larry Cooley, it’s complexity.

We’ve been thinking a lot about how to reduce complexity in order to achieve scale. In fact, “How do we reduce cost and complexity?” is key design question #4 that we explore in our Designing for Scale lab in the accelerator.

We’re big fans of MSI’s Scaling Up Toolkit, which Cooley co-authored.  Check out this great interview clip with Cooley from Devex and the rest of the article here:

Human Centered Design Challenge: Krishi Utsho

Krishi Utsho or KU, the CARE social enterprise initiative focused on improving the accessibility of agriculture inputs and services in rural Bangladesh, recently participated in an optional design challenge as part of the Human-Centered Design (HCD) Accelerator lab. They blended HCD with positive deviance* to look at one of their most successful franchisees, Saiful Islam Sumon, who owns three stores-  the most of any franchisee.  Continue reading to find out what was learned and then what was done about it!

What does Saiful do differently than other franchisees that makes him so successful?

08. Model Shop1. He tailors the format of transaction register books. Krishi Utsho trains all its franchisees to use a general register book format that is uniform for every business size and growth trajectory. But Saiful tailored his register book format to fit the size of his business and growth. He also tracks purchase habits and credit records for each customer, which gives him a deeper knowledge and understanding of them. This change addressed an issue felt by other franchisees who find the traditional register book to be cumbersome and therefore often fail to maintain the credit record

2. Saiful breaks down the bulky 25 kg pack of cattle feed into easier-to-see 1 kg packs. Why? Because he consulted his customers who preferred small-unit packaging in order to keep the quality of the product intact and were even willing to pay a premium to get it. This innovation set Saiful apart from other franchisees who do not repackage but rather supply lower quality product since it slowly deteriorated once the 25 kg pack was open until it was finished.

What else did we learn about the farmers? 

11. Desired Package

In addition to learning about the farmers preference for the items packaged in small quantities, even at a higher price, the KU team learned something about their preferred method for product promotions.

Most of the farmers indicated a preference for miking (promotions using a microphone and loudspeakers) since both the farmers and other household members pay attention to this type of advertisements. TV and radio advertisements can be easily missed and leaflets miss an entire audience segment because of illiteracy. Text and voice message promotions are also not preferred since users tend to ignore most of the commercials transmitted by cell phone companies.



Ok…so what’s the problem?

06. Feasibility TestingThe miking advertisement strategy only allows for unidirectional communication so KU struggles to learn from farmers about their demand and satisfaction with KU’s products and services. The absence of a formal information channel between farmers, input shops and suppliers leads to asymmetric information between different stakeholders, the outcomes of which include adulteration of inputs and weak credit management.

Wait- why is this so important?

KU views the development of a customer database that will collect, store and maintain consumer-level information on input purchases and consumer feedback to facilitate demand forecasts, appropriate packaging, and in-store credit as an essential component of its business moving forward. This system will capture data from all of the 400 – 600 customers that visit each shop every month.

So what did we do about it? We prototyped!

Prototyping session with Franchisees

To address this issue, KU applied the tenets of Human Centered Design (HCD) to prototype a solution and test it at the field level during the optional design challenge. KU prototyped the use of a suggestion box placed in the front of the shop, which allows customers to fill out a feedback form after purchases. The form itself asks simple, pictorial, self-explanatory questions regarding the current purchase as well as the customers’ experience regarding previous purchases. To motivate farmers to fill out the form, KU will randomly select a farmer through a lottery-style prize drawing every month. KU is now testing this prototype in a single store. The response from the customers so far has been very good.



What’s next?

47_CARE Impact Challange - Krishi UtshoKU’s long-term strategy is to transition to an ICT-based feedback collection system to support rapid expansion. As such, they’ll prototype using a toll-free number where consumers will voluntarily provide feedback and employing two dedicated people who collect data over the phone. This intervention will allow KU to choose customers to provide data according to KU’s needs.

Special thanks to GRID Impact for helping us create the Design Challenge and coaching the Bangladesh team!


*What is positive deviance? It’s an international development approach based on “the observation that in every community there are certain individuals or groups whose uncommon behaviors and strategies enable them to find better solutions to problems than their peers, while having access to the same resources and facing similar or worse challenges.” Learn more at!


What We’re Learning: What’s our Value Proposition?

As we work through our Design for Scale lab, we’re tackling five key design questions – starting with question #1: What’s the value proposition of our innovation?

Very simply, the value proposition of your innovation is the benefit your solution provides combined with why it’s better than anything else that exists! The tricky part about value proposition is that it’s not defined by us. It’s defined by our user.

value propositionOf course, we always start implementation thinking that we know what the value proposition is for our end user. However, a key step in identifying our value proposition is being prepared to be wrong or not understand the full story.  We need to be prepared to learn from our users and pay careful attention to unexpected results. At the beginning stages of an innovation it is critical to use qualitative methods that can capture unexpected value that the innovation has.

A second way we can learn about our value proposition is to look for viral replication and sharing. To see people who are replicating or copying our work without prompting or incentive tells us we’ve found an area with a strong value proposition.

Once we’ve identified a value proposition, we need to be able to articulate it!

We’re loving the simple formats from these excellent blog posts: Proven Templates for Creating Value Propositions that Work and Three More Proven Value Proposition Templates that Work