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How consumer insights can inform inclusive businesses’ decisions: cases from Business Call to Action members in Kenya and India

Inclusive businesses gather insights from their consumers for many reasons. Information from customers helps companies to understand the value – or impact – they are creating for customers. It also informs their decisions on strategy and operations, driving improvements in performance. As inclusive businesses work to improve the lives of the poor, having access to the voices of Base of the Pyramid consumers can help them understand whether they are actually realizing the impact they hope to create, and how they can further improve and scale up their operations.  

Since 2015, Business Call to Action (BCtA) has been working closely with 21 of its 182 inclusive businesses globally, from social enterprises to multinationals in a variety of sectors, in order to create systems to collect data using mobile devices and articulate their social objectives. The types of information our members collect depend on their individual needs, but they range from understanding the profiles of their customers to obtaining feedback on their products and services.

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Photo courtesy of Access Afya

Access Afya, a social enterprise that operates micro-clinics and field-based community health programmes in the informal settlements of Nairobi, Kenya, partnered with BCtA to collect data that will help the company evaluate locations for its new clinics. In order to ensure the sustainability of these clinics, the company needed information on the cost, quality and accessibility of existing healthcare options so that it could project the likely value of the new facilities.

With the mobile-based surveys we helped to develop, Access Afya was able to collect demographic information on different communities and make cross-comparisons of factors such as age, gender and existing healthcare providers. Based on the collected data, the company opened its third clinic in December 2016 in the area where it found the greatest need. The company was also able to gain insight into the price point that local communities could afford. Access Afya plans to continue using the surveys to elaborate its expansion plans further.

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Mahindra – photo taken during BCtA’s training on impact measurement

Mahindra Rural Housing Finance, a company that provides home loans to low-income families in rural India, worked with BCtA to establish a structured process of measuring its social impact on customers’ lives. The surveys we developed with the company focused on the quality of customers’ housing, health status and priorities. The data collected in one Indian state indicated that customers had different needs depending on the length of their relationship with Mahindra. Based on this insight, the company began to tailor its marketing strategy and products to better suit the needs of its customers. Mahindra is now expanding its data collection into five states in order to elicit similar insights and further inform its business strategy.

These are just two examples of how we have seen consumer insights inform the decisions of inclusive businesses. BCtA is not alone in promoting the use of technology and experimental methods for collecting and applying social impact data: we are seeing a growing number of impact investors and inclusive business practitioners adopting similar ‘lean data’ approaches to impact measurement. BCtA will continue experimenting with new methods to support inclusive businesses to measure impact this year. We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with your organization and receive your feedback on our work!

This blog is a part of the February 2017 series on Customer intelligence revolutionising business at the Base of the Pyramid in partnership with Acumen Lean Data.  Access the series for interviews with social enterprises Dr.Consulta and D.light, as well as blogs from Business Call to Action, Social Value International and many more.

Tomohiro Nagasaki
Tomohiro Nagasaki
I lead Business Call to Action's work on impact measurement of inclusive business.

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