The Village Enterprise Accelerator

Accelerating the pace of poverty alleviation through partnerships, innovation, and research

Scaling through partnerships

To achieve our mission of ending extreme poverty in rural Africa through entrepreneurship and innovation, the Village Enterprise Accelerator partners with NGOs and governments to replicate cost-effective, evidence-based approaches to poverty alleviation.

With 30 years of experience in microenterprise development, Village Enterprise is committed to further replicating our model through collaborative partners, with the goal of impacting over 27 million lives by 2025.

Village Enterprise now offers technical assistance services to NGO and government partners throughout Africa interested in implementing a graduation program or its components parts.

    1. Flagship partnerships
      Providing technical assistance (TA) to transfer Village Enterprise’s entire program to organizations and governments who are interested in the full Graduation model
    2. Savings and Business training partnerships
      Providing technical assistance to organizations and governments that are interested in our savings program or business training program

Village Enterprise will both act as a primary technical advisor and in collaboration with other “graduation” partners.

“I have seen many economic empowerment programs over more than 25 years in International Development, but Village Enterprise’s work in Uganda struck me as one of the best thought out and diligently implemented programs I’ve seen. The stories from the women and few men impacted demonstrated the comprehensive and smart design, getting people on the next rung of the prosperity ladder. So impressed.”

Doug Balfour, CEO, Geneva Global

Innovating for impact

Innovation is the key to Village Enterprise’s success and critical to eliminating extreme poverty. The Village Enterprise Accelerator develops, pilots, and tests innovations that address the unique needs of the poorest of the poor in the most impactful and cost-effective manner. Drawing on input from our business owners and mentors, as well as industry best practices, the Accelerator fosters continual learning and adaptation and allows us to test, scale, and share solutions that work for the unique circumstances of those at the bottom of the pyramid.

Our ongoing innovation process culminates each year with the Village Enterprise Innovation Summit, where Village Enterprise staff gathers to assess whether each pilot under evaluation should be implemented on a larger scale.
Some of the innovations developed by the Village Enterprise Accelerator include:


Status: Rolled out 2013

Choosing a profitable business to start is never easy. The SMART mobile technology tool identifies top-performing agricultural businesses on a region-by-region basis and allows Village Enterprise business mentors to recommend greater-demand, higher-profit or lower-risk crops to subsistence farmers interested in agribusinesses. SMART was selected as one of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Next Century Innovations (among 1,000+ applicants) in 2013.


Status: Under RCT Evaluation

Village Enterprise’s innovative Business-in-a-Box addresses the numerous barriers to business development in rural Africa. By giving all or a portion of the startup capital as bundle assets and business inputs rather than cash, we help rural entrepreneurs overcome obstacles like limited awareness and knowledge, lack of upfront investment and rural distribution challenges. Examples include bee-keeping, potatoes, chickens and human-powered irrigation pumps.

Developing Evidence-Based Solutions

The Village Enterprise Accelerator is committed to advancing global understanding of best practices in programming for the ultra poor. Our established rural microenterprises, savings groups, and infrastructure uniquely poise us to offer mission-aligned partners a platform to conduct research on solutions that work for the bottom of the pyramid.
Through research partnerships, Village Enterprise aims to equip policy makers and other stakeholders with evidence needed to adopt the most cost-effective innovations for ameliorating extreme poverty. In this way, Village Enterprise expects to foster and accelerate global efforts to end extreme poverty in rural Africa.

Current Research Underway:

Large-Scale RCT:

In October 2013, Village Enterprise launched an independent randomized controlled trial (RCT) with IPA. In addition to guiding refinements to Village Enterprise’s model, results will create new awareness among funders, policy makers, NGOs and governments about how best to structure social protection programming to reach the extreme poor.

Past Research Projects:

Youth Entrepreneurship Study:

Village Enterprise conducted a youth study funded by USAID/FHi360 that focused on researching the preferences and habits of rural youth.

Saving Study:

We participated in a MasterCard Foundation research study of practices and possibilities in savings groups and provided extensive data on the needs and preferences of 139 of our savings group members in Uganda.

Entrepreneurship Gender Gap Study:

Village Enterprise participated in the Boston Consulting Group Study: “Bridging the Entrepreneurship Gender Gap: The Power of Networks”