Acumen’s Lean Data Initiative


 (Photo: Ali, a customer of Esoko Networks, an Acumen investee)

This year Acumen launched the Lean Data Initiative, which is experimenting with more cost- and time-efficient ways to collect data on our investees’ customers. We know the impact investing and social enterprise world is hungry for better impact data, but getting it is often expensive and time consuming. However, we understand the importance of knowing how our investments are creating social impact, and how they can better demonstrate their potential to create long-lasting change in individuals’ lives.

In partnership with Root Capital and with support from the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), we are testing a range of collection methods (call centers, SMS, and automated voice response) and survey types to improve our understanding of how our investees create impact and how they can use data to serve their customers. By using the power of mobile technology, we hope to leapfrog the high costs and time commitment of more traditional data collection methods. In addition, we see Lean Data as becoming integral to our investees’ operations over time, as these methods can provide up-to-date and timely information directly from customers – something which is currently hard to achieve regularly.

The attached document was presented at this year’s ANDE Metrics Conference, and emphasizes the value of solutions and feedback tailored to our end-customers. It also gives a brief overview of the results of a pilot conducted early this year in partnership with Grameen Foundation.

Acumen is excited to hear feedback and suggestions on the Lean Data Initiative, and would welcome your comments. The three biggest questions we see facing this initiative are:

+How can we evaluate efficacy of mobile survey question techniques and methodology? +What mobile enabled MIS / data management systems exist that are appropriate for start-ups in our markets? +Who pays for lean data?




Rohit Gawande
Rohit Gawande
Acumen's mission is to invest in companies, leaders, and ideas that are changing the way the world tackles poverty. As an Impact Associate, Rohit supports Acumen’s efforts to better understand and measure the social impact of our...

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