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


Meet the Teams: Team Based Goals and Incentives (TBGI)

Bihar is one of India’s largest states, home to almost 100 million people. It is also one of its poorest states, affected with high maternal and infant mortality rates, malnutrition, anemia, poor family planning services and a plethora of diseases claiming lives. The lack of motivation in Community Health Workers (CHWs) is a critical barrier in the delivery of relevant health services and messages to clients. This lack of motivation is compounded by the fact that a CHW has to solely survive on incentives for services provided, or is paid a nominal honorarium. Amplifying the problem is the absence of functional integration of health programs. In Bihar, there are three cadres of CHWs – Auxiliary Nurse & Midwifes,  Accredited Social Health Activists from Department of Health, and Anganwadi Workers from Department of Integrated Child Health Services under the Social Welfare ministry – who are supposed to be serving the same clients. Yet these three groups function disparately and do not coordinate or collaborate with each other since they belong to different departments.

Drawing from the business world, CARE developed an innovation that aimed to strengthen the teamwork and motivation of the CHWs, called Team-Based Goals and Incentives (TBGI). It integrated both the motivational power of incentives and the virtues of teamwork. We facilitated the formation of a ‘team’ that brings all three cadres of CHWs together on a single platform. We let the team mutually decide and set goals for the provision of services in their catchment area with specific numeric targets on predetermined health indicators for each quarter. The team then worked together to meet the targets. All operational challenges were alleviated through mutual support and leveraging of individual competencies.

TBGI was piloted in 76 Health Sub Centers (38 treatment + 38 control) in the Begusarai district of Bihar. An independent randomized controlled trial showed encouraging results after just one year of implementation in exclusive breastfeeding (71 percent in treatment area versus 61 percent in control) and use of modern contraceptives (26 percent in treatment area versus 15 percent in control), among other areas.


Meet the Team

HEMANTKUMAR G. SHAH | Chief of Party, Bihar Technical Support Project | CARE India

Dr. Hemant Shah was the Director of the State RMNCH+A Unit, Bihar, prior to being promoted to the COP position. He has successfully established the biggest State RMNCH+A Unit in India and has helped the Government of Bihar develop various policies/ revise existing policies on public health for the state, rationalize deployment of specialist doctors, assisted the government in gap analysis of procurement systems, helped prepare specifications for equipment and provided guidance in the preparation of state PIPs etc. Being the main interface with the government, Dr. Shah’s role is critical in establishing buy-ins, planning and implementing the scale-up.

AMITAVA BANERJEE| Communications Specialist | CARE India

Amitava Banerjee heads all communications for the program and is an expert on IEC/BCC strategies and advocacy communications. He is responsible for positioning, branding and dissemination of all program initiatives to different national and global stakeholders, and the media by translating complex implementation and impact data into comprehensible creative outputs for diverse audiences. Amitava joined the social sector after spending close to 17 years heading marketing and communications for multi-million dollar businesses in the Indian sub-continental and APMEA markets. He has been supporting advocacy efforts for scale up of TBGI since last 1 year through the strategic use of the media. His communication skills will prove invaluable when advocating the need of addressing the “motivation” barrier and the potential of TBGI to impact lives and transform the health landscape.

SUNIL MOHANTY | Program Manager, Gaya | CARE India

Sunil Mohanty has more than 14 years of experience in managing large scale health programs and implementing them at scale through the government. Sunil has been associated with Team Based Goals and Incentive Pilot Program (TBGI) right since conceptualization and design of the innovation. He was involved in preparing the concept notes, tools and sharing of the concept with government counterparts and securing the necessary approvals. Also, Sunil was the Manager of the pilot district of Begusarai and led project implementation and assisted the CML team in conducting the baselines assessments for Begusarai.

MOHAMMED AFTAB ALAM | Program Manager, Saharsa | CARE India

Aftab has been working in the project since inception and has more than 7 years of experience working with the government health system. He is skilled at mentoring and managing teams, collaborating with the government, implementation on ground and anticipating barriers to implementation. He brings in the experience of implementing the pilot for the first year and having supported the formative phase with development of indicators, identifying factors driving motivation of FLWs, designing and testing of tools, budgeting costs and identifying possible barriers to implementation and finding ways around them. During implementation, Aftab had built the capacity of other team members involved in the pilot.

AMARJEET PRABHAKAR | District Manager, Begusarai | CARE India

Amarjeet Prabhakar has more than 12 years of experience in managing health and ICDS programs. His skills lie around mentoring and managing teams, collaborating with government counterparts and program implementation. Amarjeet has been working with this innovation since last two years in Begusarai. He is responsible for inclusion of TBGI in the government PIP. He has been involved in many research and evaluations for the innovation including supporting the end line assessment by Mathematica.


5 Minutes of Inspiration – CARE’s impact at scale

This month, the accelerator teams are jumping into our “Designing for Scale” lab.  To kick us off, Emily Janoch, Senior Technical Advisor and communicator extraordinaire, gives us the big picture of CARE’s impact at scale.  We are so proud to work here and humbled to think about the impact that the ideas currently in the accelerator might have one day!

What we’re learning – How do we prototype what CARE does best?

*Reposted with updated links*

If you were able to watch our introduction video, you know that one of our hypotheses for why it takes the development sector a long time to scale is that we’re often using our project cycles to test new adaptations of our innovations.  When we launch a “pilot,” that can mean waiting for two-three years to get feedback and course correct at the midterm evaluation.

While we might need to wait until the midterm to start getting hard data on impact, we don’t need to wait several years to get valuable feedback.   Why design and launch a full solution, when you can run rapid tests on prototypes first?

[Photo credit: GRID Impact. Designers from Grameen Foundation test paper prototypes in Uganda]
So in our human-centered design lab, we’re thinking about how to prototype versus pilot and how this can give us just one new tool to move faster.


GRID explains how all this works in one fantastic graph

One aspect that is taking us some time to get our heads around – how do you prototype anything that’s not a product, such as services or systems?  It’s still early days for applying HCD to international development, but here are some examples we love!

Sanitation: GRID Impact started off our lab with a deep dive into how they applied HCD and prototyping to increase the use of sanitation facilities (GRID +  Sanergy  +  DIFD  + Populist)

Family planning: The “Divine Divas” –  Prototyping a pop nail salon experience, peer-to-peer learning and service delivery for sexual and reproductive health services for adolescent girls in Zambia (Marie Stopes International + Ideo + The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation)

Prototyping nail salon experiences with teens. Read more at: http://stories.hewlett.org/designs_for_a_better_world Photo credit: IDEO

Governance and accountability: Making All Voices Count, an organization that works on issues of governance and accountability by enabling citizen engagement,  used human-centered design for the development of their stakeholder engagement strategy.  Their prototyping process included creating 12 “user archetypes” and using story-boarding and role playing to prototype potential ways to engage citizens.

Agriculture:  Juhudi Kilimo was interested in providing farmers with more in-depth technical training and assistance, so they prototyped both training videos utilizing actual farmers telling their stories and a mobile helpline (Juhudi Kilimo + Ideo)

Photo Credit: IDEO.org Read all about it here: http://www.wassermanfoundation.org/news/designing-better-training-for-farmers/

Health Systems: The Backpack Plus project used the physical object of a backpack as a starting point for designing systems to support and empower community health workers. (USAID + Frog  + UNICEF + MDG Health Alliance + Save the Children)

Photo Credit: UNICEF Read more at: http://www.unicefstories.org/model/chwbackpackplus/

Getting to know our “users” and our “scalers”

This month, our accelerator teams are diving into a lab on human-centered design with GRID Impact. At the core of most accelerators, incubators or innovation “hubs” is the practice of getting to know your end user or your customer. Human-centered design has famously brought co-creation and empathy to the heart of innovation in the private sector.

As development workers, though, we often pride ourselves on being deeply empathetic, on both an organizational and individual level.  Our programmatic frameworks are built on human rights and empowerment, after all. But how well do we really know the participants in our programs (our “end users”)? Lots of data from formative research and long-term local presence can sometimes lull us into a false sense of knowing more than we really do, especially when it comes to designing programs.

It’s only fair to illustrate the point by picking on myself. Years ago, I worked on CARE’s avian influenza portfolio.  When avian flu first emerged, U.N. agencies and NGOs knew we had to act fast to provide advice to millions of backyard farmers across Asia.  During those early days, CARE was one of the first organizations to raise issues from the perspective of local communities, such as the disproportionate impact that culling flocks was having on women since they were more likely to raise backyard poultry.

Because we were closer to the community, I was pretty confident CARE could develop useful guidance for farmers. We spent time on our formative research and got out to project sites to interview farmers.  But when I got home, I did something that totally changed my perspective.  I built a chicken coop, got a few chickens and put them in my backyard. I became a backyard farmer.

new addition

These were my chickens.  You are looking at a picture of Lucile, Cordelia, Buffy and Rogue.  In just a few weeks, these ladies taught me that many of those key messages that the humanitarian community collectively developed were actually pretty terrible and not at all practical.   It wasn’t until I dove into an immersive experience to understand our “users” that the proverbial light bulb went off.

So our first question in the accelerator is, how can we push ourselves further in understanding our end user?   Do we really understand the value of our innovation from our users’ perspective?  Can we articulate it from the users’ perspective? What evidence do we have that our users see their problem and our solution the same way we do?

Also, as we scale, we have to shift our mindset to thinking about the people and institutions that will replicate or scale our innovation as users as well.  How often do we miss the opportunity to design for their needs and constraints?  If we don’t design our innovations with these implementers or “scalers” in mind, we will definitely fail to achieve uptake.

Meet the Teams: Young Men Initiative (YMI)

CARE’s gender transformation education Young Men Initiative (YMI) has been a documented success in the Western Balkans. The program is focused on transforming the school environment to one that supports and nurtures gender equality and promotes a culture of non-violence.  It seeks to achieve this outcome by both institutionalizing a gendered educational curriculum and a social norms campaign.  The program has been piloted, evaluated and accredited in most of the Western Balkan countries. The curriculum has been implemented by peer educators, youth workers and educators as part of a multiplier effect. This focus was based on the understanding that adolescence represents a pivotal moment in the socialisation process, when attitudes towards  violence and gender roles are formulated and solidified, as well as the recognition that schools are important institutions in constructing and reinforcing gender norms. The  YMI program theory hypothesises that if students learn to recognise harmful gender norms and are provided safe spaces to practise questioning these constructs, then there is a greater likelihood of internalising new ideas in support of gender-equitable, healthy and non-violent behaviours. The methodology also emphasises supporting influences and structures, such as positive peer groups and role models, and the existing policy environment.

In evaluations conducted by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) using a quasi experimental design findings showed promising results, particularly in improving attitudes related to violence against women, homophobia, gender roles and the use of violence against peers.[1]  In Kosovo, where the evaluation was able to track students over a longer period, the reviewer found using a modified Gender Equitable Men Scale to assess changes in participants’ gender-related attitudes that “For the vast majority of survey items measuring gender norms and homophobic attitudes, YMI participants showed significant shifts not observed in the comparison school.”[2] 

[1] YMI Synthesis Report, ICRW 2014

[2] Kosovo Case Study, Brian Heilman 2016.

Learn more about YMI by watching this documentary!

Meet the Team

YMI Team Group Photo_CARE Balkans

JOHN CROWNOVER | Program Advisor – Team Leader | CARE Balkans  

John is currently the Engaging Men and Boys Program Advisor within CARE International Balkans Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Sector, which includes working in Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia. His main focus is on the development and implementation of programs around gender equality, fatherhood and young men, particularly dealing with issues around masculinities, violence and conflict; gender and health; and mobilizing youth in bringing about positive social change. In addition John Crownover supports CARE’s programs addressing gender based violence, peacebuilding and the social inclusion of the Roma. John Crownover has a master’s of science in youth development and has focused his post graduate work on issues related to young men, masculinities and violence in the region of the former Yugoslavia. He currently am active in the MenEngage Alliance, including as alternative representative for CARE on the global board and active in the regional MenEngage Europe network. John am also co facilitator of the CARE International working group on engaging men and boys. He currently on the steering committee for the European wide White Ribbon campaign working to prevent violence against women.

HILDE RØREN| Programme Advisor| CARE Norway

Hilde is Care Norway’s in-house engaging men advisor and she has extensive experience from the field of engaging men for gender equality. Prior to joining CARE she worked for the International Labour Organisation in India and Geneva where she developed and managed projects focusing on engaging men in trade unions to end sexual harassment. One component of this included designing advocacy messages for senior leadership. At CARE Norway she is responsible for ensuring the quality of all engaging men initiatives across the framework agreement and also manages a project engaging young men for GBV prevention in Burundi and DRC. This project is designed based on learning from the YMI in Balkans which she was the desk officer for at CN from 2009.  Further, together with John Crownover she coordinates the CI Engaging Men network. She holds a Master in Gender and Development from the London School of Economics where she wrote her master thesis provided a critically reflection on the level of gender transformation in a selection of engaging men projects.

MARINA STARCEVIC CVIKO | Project Coordinator | CARE Balkans – Serbia

Marina by vocation is social worker, holding the bachelor degree of Faculty for Political Science, Belgrade University in Serbia. At year 2000 started the engagement in civil society sector in Serbia, working in local NGOs as Coordinator for livelihoods projects for IDPs and refugees, Counselor for SOS phone line for girls – victims of violence and as Coordinator for youth projects implemented throughout Serbia. In CARE Balkans since 2006, starting with coordination of projects related to empowerment of youth, anti-trafficking in human beings and finally in 2008 starting with the project Young Men Initiative (YMI). During the implementation of YMI in past 8 years, together with YMI team, she is in charge for monitoring and evaluation of project partners` activities, baseline and endline research, development of policy papers, manuals, publications and etc. Also, involved in program development and advocacy activities on national and regional level. Special interests are related to deconstruction of harmful masculinities, prevention of gender and peer violence and promotion of gender equality and gender justice in the Balkans.

JUDIT KONTSEKOVA | Desk Officer | CARE Austria

Judit is part of the Asia, Middle East and Europe team at CARE Austria and having a strong focus on projects in the Balkans. She has been formerly working on public policy analysis and project evaluations specifically in the field of educational, social and labour market programs/policies. A special focus of her work has been related to marginalized communities in Central and South-eastern European Countries. In her assignments she liaised for instance with the World Bank, UNDP, Roma Education Fund and national NGO partners to support the set up M&E systems and to introduce participative monitoring and learning tools. At CARE Austria she is involved in project development, contract management and donor liaison.


PAUL-ANDRÉ WILTON | Conflict Policy Advisor | CARE UK

Paul-André is Conflict Policy Advisor for CARE International UK based in London. Focused on Type 4 responses as well as deeper advocacy on South Sudan, he also works on multiplying impact in the thematic areas of gender in emergencies, resilient markets and engaging men and boys to protect and empower women in conflict. Previously at CARE, Paul-André led the Conflict Community of Practice, connecting staff working in conflict areas around the world to share their approaches and experiences, and as a technical trainer in conflict analysis, Theories of Change in peacebuilding DM&E and Do No Harm.

AMANDA MOLL | Knowledge & Learning Advisor | CARE USA

Amanda provides leadership and technical assistance on knowledge management and monitoring & evaluation to the Education Team. Specifically, her current work focuses on implementing, evaluating and documenting education-based projects to address the causes of marginalization affecting girls in developing contexts. Before joining CARE, she worked on social and political issues, as well as teaching and providing supplemental instruction in both high school and college settings.

THOMAS KNOLL | Project Manager | CARE Germany-Luxemburg

Thomas is Sociologist (University of Trier) born 1968; had several positions in International Development Cooperation (two years with the German Development Service in Agadez, Niger), two years for the Chamber of Crafts in Ruanda and Rumania with two episodes at Universities (University of Saarbruecken, University of Tuebingen) before coming to CARE DL at the beginning of 2011. Five years at CARE as Manager for Volunteers and School Campaigns, since January 2016 Project Manager for the KIWI Project (work with youth migrants).

BESNIK LEKA | Project Coordinator| CARE Balkans – Kosovo & Albania

Besnik is the project coordinator for YMI project in Kosovo and Albania.  He has a degree in Sociology and a certificate Program in Women’s and Gender Studies from Dartmouth College Ivy League School. Besnik has more than 14 years’ experience in coordination and management projects at national and international level including strong financial and personnel management expertise. He has worked with several local and International agencies and local government (i.e. the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, Ministry of Education, Deputy members from parliament, Local Municipalities, and Schools.) He is well connected with organizations and individuals who are all actively involved with community development work.

ZVJEZDANA BATKOVIC | Gender Equality Coordinator| CARE Balkans

CARE in the Balkans Regional Gender Program Coordinator has over 18 years of experience in post-war, multi-cultural environment related to emergency and developmental issues. She has strong skills in managing projects and cross-border regional programming processes focused on gender equality and women empowerment, social integration of minorities and vulnerable groups, education, youth development and good governance. She has been with CARE in the Balkans for eleven years in different capacities, from project manager of national and regional projects related to Gender Equality and Women Empowerment to Gender Advisor and Acting Program Director. She has been engaged with the Young Men Initiative since its beginning through developing project proposals, providing advisory support to the project team, defining guidelines for monitoring and evaluation, creating synergies with other projects, coordinating fundraising and research activities and conducting related assessments. She holds a Master degree in Public Administration with management and leadership focus from, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, USA, is a co-author of the first CARE in the Balkans’ Evidence of Change Report on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment 2005-2012 and a lead author of CARE International in Pakistan Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Model (2015).


SAŠA PETKOVIĆ | Project Manager| CARE Balkans – Bosnia and Herzegovina

Saša has master’s and PhD degree in Economics at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Banja Luka, where teaches as an associate professor Economics and Management of SMEs subject undergraduate students and Globalization and Entrepreneurship, Management of Entrepreneurial Projects and International Project Management. He works in CARE since 1999, and as a project manager he led various regional projects, in cooperation with youth local NGOs and government representatives. He is leading the YMI project since in its beginning and has intensive experience in work with young men.