Given the multidimensionality of poverty, a combination of well
thought-out interventions is required to address the many interconnected
challenges related to development. Complex interventions are increasingly being
implemented in the area of livelihood creation, rural development and community
health as a means to jointly address the holistic development of the population
Recently, LEAD collaborated with Ambuja Cement Foundation to study
its integrated livelihoods and community development programs in the Chandrapur
district of Maharashtra. Agricultural-allied activities are the predominant
s in the region, and the Foundation
has been focusing on helping women self-help group members explore alternative
livelihoods - by either supporting them with starting their own small-scale
enterprises, or assisting them in expanding
I was fortunate witness first-hand, during an intensive field visit, the immense and persistent efforts of ACF over the years. What struck me most was the close rapport they had with the community, as well as the dedication and commitment of the local team. While this was just a glimpse of their work, I am keen to share some noteworthy insights as I learn more about their programs and pathways to continuous impact.
Our exploratory work allowed us to better understand how ACF can further
advance their agenda in some specific areas. While ACF has so far focused on
integrated livelihoods, one area of focus as per our insights is the potential
to amplify their work on enterprise growth. We are seeing promising small-scale
businesses in agri-allied and retail such as goat-rearing, poultry farming,
pickle-making, tailoring shops, sanitary napkin manufacturing units, and
grocery stores emerge in the area. However, these businesses tend to plateau
over time and need access to larger ticket-size loans and appropriate forward
Enterprises engaged in sanitary napkin manufacturing, food processing, and tailoring require credit to purchase larger fixed assets and increase production volumes. Currently, these requirements are serviced through a Revolving Fund, which rotates among beneficiaries. The Revolving Fund is an interesting case study in moving from a grant-based model to a more sustainable community-led approach to managing funds.
Evaluating complex interventions
One important component along with implementing complex and interconnected interventions is the ability to assess progress and impact at any point in time. However, complex interventions need to be looked at through a different lens and instead, focus on adaptive learning and real-time feedback to ensure progress. Hence, dynamic and flexible monitoring and evaluation tools are ideal. Implementation of complex programs such as the ones done by ACF is ideally suited for these types of assessment.
Much work still needs to be done to optimize our understanding of
how best to evaluate these interventions, and I am sure that ACF has the
potential to be one of the pioneers in advancing this knowledge.
By Sharon Buteau, Executive Director, LEAD at Krea University
Sharon Buteau is
the Executive Director of action-oriented research centre,
at Krea University, with over two decades of experience in research and
international development. Her work has extensively focused on improving
socio-economic outcomes for individuals, households and businesses,
and realising the untapped potential of micro
and small businesses. At LEAD, Sharon focuses on bringing the right combination
of talent, expertise and stakeholders together to ensure that investments and
efforts are aligned with the organisation’s mission. Prior to joining LEAD,
Sharon was an economist with
Analysis Group in Montreal Canada. Sharon holds an MSc in Economics from the
Université du Quebec à Montreal, as well as an MA in Social Research Methods
from the London School of Economics.