Impact Assessment

Improving Business Services for Rural Microenterprises in Bangladesh, ITDG 2003

    The paper discusses participatory methods in the design and implementation of performance and impact assessment systems among business service providers in rural Bangladesh.

    ITDG's small enterprise programme in Bangladesh is building business, technical, and organisational capabilities through a civil-society network that trains rural business service providers. As ITDG does not directly fund its partner organisations, the relationship is less influenced than usual by local donor-recipient dynamics and ITDG encourages its partners to participate in developing performance monitoring systems.

    ITDG and its partners agreed on qualitative and quantitative indicators for assessing impact resulting from ITDG interventions and partner activities. After developing monitoring formats for collecting information, the partners field tested them, allocating personnel for system implementation and co-ordinating a team of staff from different organisations to determine training requirements.

    Field testing is on-going and initial reports suggest that the participatory approach has produced a simple and practical system which both service providers and their clients value.

    Summary of results
    There is a long legacy of dependency on external grant-funding in Bangladesh and the shift in organisational culture that is required to move impact assessment from proving results to improving performance is not going to happen easily or rapidly.

    There is some anecdotal evidence from managers who participated in developing the impact assessment system that some NGOs value the new approach and are keen to institutionalise it in their organisations. However, it will take another year or more for the impact of ITDG's work on developing practitioner-focussed I.A. systems to become visible.