Learning in Action: How IRC Turned Disappointing Results Into Program Innovation

Published: September 2013

This document presents the Girls Empowered by Microfranchising (GEM) project team and its donors were committed to pinpointing what aspects of the microfranchising model would work with young girls in Nairobi, Kenya. Researchers from Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), The World Bank and Population Council worked together to establish a baseline, and then, using a randomized control trial (RCT) evaluation design, planned to conduct a midline and endline evaluation of Year One. The research was meant to answer two questions (1) Measuring "process outcomes"?Do participants actually go through the program as the implementers intended? (2) Measuring "economic outcomes"?Are participants working, earning, spending, and saving more, and are they more food secure?

Key Findings

  • Largest attrition was among the youngest age cohort, which may indicate that a microfranchise model may not be an appropriate intervention for them.
  • Distribution and systems for sustainability are key to success -- working these out with private sector partners takes time and trial and error.
  • Private sector investment and ownership are essential.
  • Buy-in from the local partners and their understanding of the program stages were critical.
  • The original concept of a "buddy" system (where the lead girl of a franchise was obligated to bring on at least two more girls as employees) was hard to actually implement.
  • While the businesses remain, the make-up of girls within the business may change -- the program needs to account for this.

Populations Adolescent Girls

Industries Business

Publishers USAID Learning Lab

Geographic Focus Africa (Eastern) / Kenya