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 In Case Studies, Current Events, Team

From time to time, we here at Datassist like to draw your attention to great things happening in data analysis or the social sector. Whether it’s one of our partners, clients, or just someone doing something really cool, we feel highlighting success in this field is important. And the success of the CARE Access Africa Team is definitely something we think the world should know about.

We mentioned CARE’s Link Up program late last year in our list of nonprofit data projects we loved in 2016, but a paragraph summary isn’t really enough to properly convey the great things they’re achieving or the exciting ways they’re using data to improve the lives of people in rural Kenya and Tanzania.

Let’s take a deeper look at what they’re doing, how data is enhancing their efforts, and the difference they’re making in the world.

Linking Folks to Finance

CARE’s Link Up project aims to connect 500,000 village savings group members to formal financial services, with the ultimate goal of empowering them with financial inclusion. The program operates in Kenya and Tanzania, and organizers have partnered with the largest banks in each country to develop products that enable local savings groups to establish formal group savings and credit accounts using mobile banking solutions.

CARE’s Link Up program uses mobile banking platforms to bring financial products to rural populations.

Ultimately, the project aims to test several hypotheses:

  • That Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) can serve as a scalable first rung on the ladder to financial inclusion
  • That access to formal financial services can enhance the health of VSLAs, their members, and the families of those members
  • That mobile platforms can offer formal group savings and credit products profitably, and at scale

Of course, testing those hypotheses involves a lot of data collection, analysis, and program iteration. And that’s the part where we as data lovers get pretty excited.

Data’s Time to Shine

One of the many very cool things that CARE’s Link Up program is doing is using a wide variety of different data sets together to develop a nuanced analysis of what’s happening on the ground.

By incorporating data from a range of sources, they are enabling senior staff, project managers, and frontline workers to gain a better understanding of what is working — and who it’s working for. They can adjust and iterate the project as needed, while at the same time adding to the important body of evidence on how financial inclusion can be a positive force for those in poverty.

Link Up collects longitudinal data (also called panel data) to track the progress of participants over time. The team analyzes the data using propensity score matching (PSM) and regression discontinuity design (RDD) to measure the impact the initiative has on participants compared to those not included in the program.

Even more excitingly, CARE is combining Link Up’s internal proprietary data with external numbers, including open public data like the World Bank Global Findex, USAID’s demographic health survey, and financial inclusion data from other researchers at InterMedia and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

All the internal and external data is helping the Link Up project have a huge impact on the lives of the rural poor in Africa. Check out this short video we created to help tell the Link Up story:

You Can Do It Too

Often we hear from prospective clients or partners that they wish they could leverage external data the way programs we’ve highlighted have done, but that they’re too small-scale or don’t have the resources or connections to get the data they need from other sources.

Using external data — whether it’s public or from another research team or project — is not a privilege available only to large, established organizations. Anyone can incorporate external data into their project, and we want to show you how.

Datassist is pleased to present a free webinar (led by me!) on how to add public data to your analysis. If you work with data and would like to learn how to leverage all available data to support your work, this webinar is for you. Sign up now to reserve your spot.

Don’t want to wait? Have specific questions about your project? Want help accessing, collecting, or analyzing the data you need? Drop us a line to discuss how our team can help you.


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