The Supply Chain Innovation Fund
WITH SUCH A DIVERSE PORTFOLIO
— one that includes solutions used directly by workers and those that operate at the highest levels within corporate procurement and risk management – impact management and measurement is a challenge and resists easy quantification. We benefit from the support and expertise of an external team of Developmental Evaluators funded by the Laudes Foundation who help us learn.
The Working Capital Fund Developmental Evaluation (DE) presents a novel approach to impact management and measurement within an already innovative impact fund. Developmental evaluation is distinguished by its emphasis on ongoing learning and adaptive management, using flexible and tailored monitoring and evaluation techniques suitable for emergent initiatives and changing contexts. The DE uses a range of techniques adapted from domains including evaluation, investment due diligence, social accounting, and philanthropy, providing a systematic way of engaging in reflection, learning, and informed action to guide the journey to intended impacts.
To date the DE has focused on several key areas: enhancing the clarity and coherence of the impact thesis of the fund, expressed through evolving theories of change and impact pathways; knowledge generation through regular learning reviews; and testing alignment and integration across investee and portfolio decisions, through impact due diligence and investee engagement processes.
The DE team also provides direct support to investees to develop their impact measurement capacity and use of impact management tools and practices to advance their operational and strategic goals.
View From the Team
There is significant variance in the current capacity of investees and how ready they are to engage in a discussion around impact. There are certain moments when investees are more or less able to engage in this conversation. Between August and December 2019, the DE and Fund teams spoke with seven of eight investees (not including SupplyShift) in a series of facilitated conversations around impact goals. The purpose of these conversations was to review each investee’s impact goals, understand their questions, needs and priorities related to impact measurement, and inform the co-design of a post-investment impact roadmap.
At the time of initial investment, each investee was at a different stage of business development and understanding of the impact dimension, including gender. Some already had competences in describing and measuring the impact of their efforts towards improved worker conditions and others were at the very beginning of that journey.
In 2019 the Fund has engaged with all investees through its impact processes and more recently has extended this to include a focus on gender. As a result, investees are engaging more with impact than they were likely to do without the Fund’s influence. For some investees the Fund is having to emphasize the importance of impact and for others, such as OpenSC, the Fund is bringing further impact expertise to support their existing work. Likewise, an enhanced focus on gender has been a topic of discussion focused on current status and future intent, with investees all at different stages.
In 2020, a key step for the Fund is to further institutionalize the expectations around impact and gender. An important enabler to doing this will be through a planned deep dive with selected investees to further develop their ToCs, impact frameworks and impact measurement systems. These deep dives will be supported generously by the Laudes Foundation.