July 2022 — June 2023

Annual Report

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Dear Friends & Partners,

Thanks to your tremendous support this past fiscal year, we transformed more lives in one year than ever before—over 250,000. It’s hard to overstate what this means to the women, refugees, and youth we serve in rural Africa. From reducing hunger in their homes to sending their children back to school, our entrepreneurs now have the means to better provide for their households and invest in the things that really matter—housing, education, nutrition, healthcare, and their family’s future.

On top of this life-changing impact, the past fiscal year was full of major achievements at Village Enterprise. In March, we received a transformational $7 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. Less than two months later, in early May, our DREAMS for Refugees model won Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Award for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. We also welcomed four African leaders to our Board of Directors in May: Ermias Eshetu, Michael Mithika, Evelyn Namara, and Alexis Rwabizambuga. All four members, along with Serah Kimani, who joined our board during the summer of 2022, live in our countries of operation and will be crucial in helping guide our organization in the coming years.

As we continued to grow our impact in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda this year, our operations also expanded to Ethiopia to better serve refugees through DREAMS. In addition to this growth, we recently announced a $6.5 million results-based grant from USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) to scale our poverty graduation model in Rwanda. As USAID DIV’s largest grant in over a decade, this project will transform over 206,000 lives in the next three years, with the goal of supporting the Government of Rwanda in adopting our model to help end extreme poverty.

Even though this fiscal year was our most impactful to date, we need to go even further in the years ahead. With this in mind, we updated our mission, vision, and theory of change—ensuring we have the right direction, alignment, and interventions that will lead to even greater impact.

In many ways, the need to end extreme poverty has never been more urgent than it is now. The number of people living in extreme poverty in Africa is increasing as climate change and other shocks are reversing decades of progress. That’s why we’ve dedicated much of this report to two areas that will be critical to our success: scaling our work across Africa and driving climate resilience and conservation.

Despite the challenges, we at Village Enterprise remain relentlessly hopeful. After all, we know that we can accomplish great things because of the commitment of our partners and supporters, the passion of our team, and the determination of our entrepreneurs. Thank you for your continued support. We’re excited to go even further together in the years to come.

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    Dianne Calvi

    CEO & President

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    Katie Boland

    Board Chair

Our Impact

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Businesses Started

FY 2023

14,693

All Time

80,797

Entrepreneurs Trained

FY 2023

38,694

All Time

274,650

Total Lives Impacted

FY 2023

252,820

All Time

1,656,460

Note: In the Village Enterprise model, businesses are launched by groups of three entrepreneurs.

A Proven Solution at a Critical Moment in Africa

For the first time in over 20 years, extreme poverty is increasing as climate change, conflict, and other economic shocks are reversing decades of progress and pushing entire communities into extreme poverty.

But we have a proven solution: equip the most vulnerable women, refugees, and youth with the tools and resources to launch climate-smart businesses and savings groups. Empowered by increases in income, savings, assets, consumption, nutrition, and more, our entrepreneurs are better able to adapt to the threats of climate change, achieve greater gender equity, and have more agency and control over their lives as they break generational cycles of extreme poverty.

Our model is backed by rigorous evidence from two randomized controlled trials. Now, it’s being scaled through partnerships with African governments and other NGOs to reach even more people in rural Africa, like Bellancile.

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Long-Term Impact in an Era of Global Instability

In November and December of 2021, Village Enterprise set out to interview over 400 entrepreneurs who had graduated from our program in 2017 and 2018 as part of a five-year longitudinal study. We wanted to know: Does our one-year model have a long-term impact?

The answer was a resounding "Yes!" In fact, the study revealed that both household consumption and savings continued to rise after entrepreneurs graduated from Village Enterprise. On average, our entrepreneurs experienced an 83% increase in consumption and a 933% increase in savings over five years. All of this was achieved despite the shutdowns and economic turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting how our model builds resilience to global shocks.

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These findings are complemented by our recent external randomized controlled trial results, which found no evidence of declining program impact over time. Results from both studies are especially remarkable given that final data collection for both took place in 2021 when millions of households in Africa were being pushed back into poverty due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. The data builds a compelling case that Village Enterprise graduates first-time entrepreneurs into a state of resilience.”
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Celeste Brubaker

Chief of Impact and Innovative Financing

Recognition for Impact
and Innovation

Village Enterprise is the only nonprofit in the world to be recognized at the highest level by all 10 of these respected organizations.

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Our Mission & Vision

As we continue to grow and innovate, we’ve updated our mission and vision to better represent who we are and where we’re going. We’ve revised our vision statement to be more Africa-focused and added the word ‘forever’ to highlight the importance of sustainability in our work. To capture how we’re scaling our impact through partnerships with other nonprofits, agencies, funders, and governments, our updated mission includes the words ‘collective action.’

Dianne Calvi, Village Enterprise CEO and President, explains more about our updated mission and vision.

MISSION

To end extreme poverty in rural Africa through entrepreneurship, innovation, and collective action.

VISION

An African continent forever free of extreme poverty.

Our Year in Review

June 2022

DREAMS Entrepreneurs Receive Business Grants in Uganda

Village Enterprise and Mercy Corps officially launched DREAMS for Refugees in the Bidi Bidi and Rhino Camp Refugee Settlements in northern Uganda in 2022. In late June, our first cohort of entrepreneurs received grants to start their businesses.

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Photo credit: Jjumba Martin for Mercy Corps
September 2022

USAID Nawiri Scales Operations in Northern Kenya

After seeing positive results in the early stages of implementation, USAID committed to significantly scaling up Nawiri, a consortium project with Catholic Relief Services and Village Enterprise, to reduce chronic rates of acute child malnutrition. As part of the scale-up, Village Enterprise will impact the lives of 85,860 people, making it one of our largest projects to date.

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October 2022

Longitudinal Study Shows Sustained Impact

Our internal five-year study found that entrepreneurs in our program saw an 83% increase in consumption and expenditure as well as a 933% increase in savings over five years, highlighting the sustained, long-term impact of our model for entrepreneurs and their families.

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December 2022

DreamSave App Launches in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda

In partnership with DreamStart Labs, we began piloting the DreamSave app in 12 communities in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. This app assists business savings groups in securely and accurately storing their records on mobile phones instead of in paper books—saving them time and furthering their business goals.

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February 2023

Teams Meet for All-Staff Days and Leadership Retreat

Village Enterprise staff gathered for team days in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda to reflect on our organizational values and celebrate a year of hard work. Our Senior Management Team also met in Rwanda to discuss updating our mission, vision, strategic plan, and theory of change.

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March 2023

MacKenzie Scott Gives $7 Million to Village Enterprise

Philanthropist and author MacKenzie Scott donated $7 million to Village Enterprise, the largest single unrestricted gift in our history.

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May 2023

DREAMS for Refugees Wins Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Award

DREAMS for Refugees—a model that combines Village Enterprise’s poverty graduation program with Mercy Corps’ expertise in market systems development—won Fast Company’s 2023 World Changing Ideas Award for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

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May 2023

African Leaders Join the Board of Directors

Village Enterprise welcomed the addition of four dynamic African leaders to our Board of Directors. All four members, along with Serah Kimani, who joined our board during the summer of 2022, live in our countries of operation. As a result, 44% of our board is African.

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June 2023

Dianne Calvi Honored with Prestigious Award

Dianne Calvi, Village Enterprise CEO and President, was awarded the President’s Award for the Common Good from Stanford University, an honor recognizing Stanford alumni who have positively and sustainably changed the trajectory of people’s lives in their communities and around the world.

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June 2023

DREAMS for Refugees Launches in Ethiopia

In partnership with Mercy Corps, Village Enterprise officially launched DREAMS for Refugees in the Dollo Ado Refugee Settlement in Ethiopia. The first cohort of entrepreneurs have already launched their businesses and are projected to graduate from our program in the spring of 2024.

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Photo credit: Ezra Millstein for Mercy Corps
June 2023

Continued Collaboration with the Government of Kenya

Funded by the World Bank, and in collaboration with the Global Development Incubator and BOMA, the Kenya Social and Economic Inclusion Project (KSEIP) entered its final phase. This past year was spent training government officials on our poverty graduation program, and Village Enterprise will provide further technical assistance as the government begins to incorporate our model into their existing social protection programs across Kenya.

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November 2023

USAID DIV Awards $6.5 Million to Scale Poverty Graduation in Rwanda

USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures awarded $6.5 million—their largest grant in the past decade—to Village Enterprise. With this funding, we will support the Government of Rwanda to adopt and scale our model to help end extreme poverty.

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Press Coverage

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Traditional approaches are failing refugees, but DREAMS offers a new approach to equip refugees to break the cycle of extreme poverty themselves.

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DREAMS for Refugees wins Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Award for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

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CEO Dianne Calvi is honored with the President’s Award for the Advancement of Common Good from Stanford University for her work to make a positive global impact.

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There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to ending extreme poverty. A holistic approach is critical in building sustainable livelihoods.

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Results-based funding can help the international development sector improve impact and effectiveness during times of uncertainty.

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This In Practice paper shares insights from NGOs on designing and delivering government-led graduation programs to end extreme poverty.

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In this interview (starting at 27:16), Muna Hellen shares her journey as a refugee and what it means to now be a business mentor with Village Enterprise.