Using Technology to Enhance Impact In 2017 Alfanar launched it's new Monitoring and Evaluation platform, allowing us to assess and analyse the performance and social impact of our investments in real time. We spoke to Investment Officer Mohammed Alradi about what this means for our investees and their beneficiaries. 1) What catalyzed this innovation inside Alfanar? We were using an outdated form of monitoring and evaluation, which was a chore for our investees. Like many other funders, we required a quarterly report, which took up valuable time and energy from the people and organizations we support. We wanted to modernize our system, so that reporting would be part and parcel of their daily and weekly work; and more importantly part of their decision making. The worst part of the old reporting system is that not much analysis can be done with it, neither on the investor’s part nor on the investee’s part. It was just a dry quarterly report. 2) How did you go about developing the new platform? The most important aspect is that we co-created this new development with our investees. We met and communicated every step of the way, to find out what indicators are most helpful for them to track, what statistics are relevant for their short-term and long-term goals, and what data would be most useful to help them make difficult decisions about the direction of their social enterprises. The country directors and investment director met with our investees one-on-one and in groups; and I visited several months ago to conduct a workshop. From the start, and increasingly so over time, the social entrepreneurs we work with were contacting us to follow up and find out how soon they could start using it! 3) Tell us more about what exactly the platform is and how it works. We are using Qlik, which is an automated business intelligence software that can also be used offline and synched periodically. It’s very user-friendly and intuitive, not too different from a basic excel sheet, but allows for the user to visualize and filter data in a way that helps identify patterns and trends. Alfanar invested a huge amount of time and labor into designing tailored apps for our investees. We sat down together to create the data sheets and demo the apps with them. Questions which would otherwise take weeks to answer can now be answered in a minute for them. 4) Why is this important, and what are you most excited about? Alfanar works to help grassroots social enterprises measure, scale, and sustain their impact. For us and our investors to know if it’s working – and more importantly for them to know what’s working – we need to be data driven and evidence based. An example is Future Eve Foundation in Egypt, or ShareQ in Lebanon. The chief executives need to find out whether a certain vocational training results in the most employment and the highest salary for their end users; which areas are the weakest, etc. In the past, that information was hard to find because the data was not user friendly. Now, they can log on right away and see the employment rate for each program, which vocations and geographies have the highest and lowest employment, and why they differ. Our investees can’t afford to hire an army of analysts full time to dig into the numbers and come up with statistics, it’s not feasible. Alfanar’s new platform does this work for them. We are mirroring what’s already being done in the private sector: transforming that big data into visually or asthetically pleasing user friendly dashboards.