ICA:UK & Tujiendeleze Youth Trust Fund measuring the impact in Africa

Driven by a belief that development is best initiated and managed locally, ICA:UK has played a role over many years helping our partners in Africa to grow and develop as organisations. This has been done by advising, mentoring/coaching, providing facilitation and/or training, fundraising and, through our Village Volunteers sponsorship scheme providing small grants for organisational development.

In late 2012, we talked to our partners about assessing impact. This attracted a lot of interest across the continent. The conversation had two aspects. One was a more historical perspective, going back to villages and communities where ICA had once worked and seeking to understand the difference that our intervention had made. The other looked more to the future – developing the capacity within our partners to carry out such assessments on their own programmes.

While this conversation was going on, one of our partners in Kenya, the Tujiendeleze Youth Trust Fund wanted to apply for a Village Volunteers grant to carry out an impact assessment of its own. TYTF was founded in late 2007 with the aim of supporting bright and capable young people to further their careers and contribute more to the development of their own and other communities. It does this primarily by sponsoring young people for further study in the field of community development. However, it wanted to assess how effective TYTF had been in working towards its mission and the difference it had made to the young people that it engaged with and sponsored.

With this development, ICA:UK decided to use this opportunity to pilot an approach to assessing impact which could be used by other organisations. In October 2014, a grant of £2,200 was approved. This enabled TYTF to hire a local researcher, Gordon Wanzare, to carry out a thorough study to assess its impact. The study also provided useful recommendations for TYTF to consider as it plans its future direction.
The research showed that TYTF has supported 20 young people to date (13 females and 7 males) to pursue diploma and certificate courses in community development, social work and welfare through partial tuition sponsorship. It found that, after receiving support from TYTF, 47% of the young people are now self-employed, 35% employed while 12% are still continuing with volunteer work. The majority (82%) are still involved in community development work, 62.5% believe they are achieving their dreams and almost all (94%) mentioned that TYTF has played a role in their achievements.

Some of the past successes recorded in the report include:

  • Undertaking peace building initiatives in Mombasa during and after the 2013 general election
  • Creating awareness and changing the sexual behaviour of teenage school girls and boys to reduce school drop-outs due to pregnancy in Mombasa
  • Being able to secure a job as a Programme Officer with an organisation in Mombasa
  • Reducing the number of idle girls in the community in Bombolulu, Kilifi County, by engaging them through training in hair design, performing arts and life skills.
  • Advising and mentoring a group of five girls in Lucky Summer (Nairobi) on group cohesion, savings, guidance and counselling, and business counselling: The group is now stable with improved savings.
  • Training about 10 children aged five to 19 years in Githurai, Nairobi, on performing arts like dancing and in poetry to unleash their potential
  • Secure a job as Project Coordinator with a CBO and now as an Administrator at a Nursing Home

The report made a wide range of recommendations, based on suggestions from the various stakeholders involved and by the researcher himself. Broadly, these can categorised under five major strategic issues: relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability.

“After operating for over seven years, it is now time for TYTF to come up with a practical growth strategy, with more emphasis on impact, sustainability, effectiveness and efficiency” – Impact Assessment Report

W&W 43 UK AfricaAfter the initial report was produced in December 2014, TYTF partners, board members and past and present students gathered to reflect on the key findings and the report recommendations, and to chart a way forward for the Trust Fund. The discussion on the five strategic issues raised in the report led to the identification of five key areas that need attention if moving ahead was to be a success: Coordination, Rules of Engagement, Partnerships and Networking, Structure, and Communication.

In the months since then there has been a clear sense of renewed energy and focus among everyone engaged with TYTF. Steps have been taken towards implementing the recommendations and areas agreed. While further actions are in process or are planned in the coming months, some examples of progress are:

  • Daniel Odinga, a new part-time co-ordinator has been recruited and started work in March 2015.
  • A re-structured board of six people is now in place, each serving a one-year term until the next AGM in February and with agreed Terms of Reference.
  • Discussions have been taking place with existing partners (YIKE, Ngei 1) and learning institutions (KISWCD & KIDS) with a view to developing MoUs with each of them to clearly define future engagement and collaboration.
  • The existing Rules of Engagement for Students have been revised and finalized for recruiting new students.
  • A strategic plan was developed in August, forming the final stage of the Impact Assessment process (supported by Village Volunteers as part of the original grant). This brought together 12 participants (board and staff members, students/alumni, partner organisations and the researcher). They spent two days charting out their future direction. As Board member John Cornwell said the meeting was characterised by “a strong spirit and sense that we’ve come a long way and that this is a significant point in the future growth of TYTF”

Overall, the Impact Assessment process has enabled reflection and learning among all TYTF stakeholders. It highlighted issues that may have appeared “hidden” if the research had not been conducted in such a rigorous way, challenging people’s thinking on several issues, and deepening their understanding of those issues and of the overall objectives and activities of the Trust Fund. New plans have also been developed based on the evidence of impact to date.

From the perspective of both TYTF and Village Volunteers, the process has achieved all that we hoped for. The research has not only captured and analysed TYTF’s work to date, but it has provided the platform for the development of future, evidence-based plans. Further, people working with TYTF have had the space and opportunity to step back, reflect on the progress to date, and develop plans which are more closely aligned to TYTF’s mission and purpose.

With this success, we now want to see how such a process can support other ICA:UK partners go through such an assessment and review. With a summary of the TYTF process already circulated, several have shown interest. We are hoping that we will see the next process beginning soon. For others interested in working with us to help roll out this across Africa, we look forward to hearing from you!

This post was first published in Winds & Waves, December 2015.