Impact Measurement

Using Lean DataSM we are able to listen to end-consumers at scale to understand what impact means to them

Talk of impact is everywhere but few people seem happy with the state of measurement practice. Genuine end-consumer data that truly helps to understand social value is few and far between. That’s why we created Lean DataSM. Designed specifically for social enterprises, Lean DataSM helps build more impactful businesses by providing them with data on their social performance, customer feedback and behavior.

Lean DataSM delivers unparalleled insight into the impact of Acumen’s portfolio and is also serving the wider sector

45,000

Customers surveyed 

across 20+ countries
150+

Lean DataSM

projects completed
80+

firms, funds and foundations

using Lean Data

The Lean DataSM Approach

  • About Lean Data
    What is Lean Data?

    Fast-moving social enterprises, strapped for cash and time, face a conundrum when it comes to measuring social performance. Traditional measurement tools, whether inherited from international development or impact investing, don’t make sense. They are either too costly because they were designed for large-scale aid projects or focus on typical business metrics that don’t get to the heart of impact.  Lean DataSM applies lean experimentation principles to the collection and use of social performance data. It involves a shift in mindset away from reporting and compliance and toward creating value for a company and its customers.

     

  • Who We Serve
    We’re focused on the poor.

    The companies we invest in are delivering critical products and services that enable poor customers to transform their lives. That’s why we’re laser-focused on rigorously tracking the ability of our investees to reach these customers and understand their needs. Our success is defined by how well our investments enable the poor to transform their lives.

  • Measuring What Matters
    We Listen to What’s Important

    While the standard approach in our sector is to gather metrics on numbers of people reached, we measure the social benefits people actually experience. That’s because we believe that creating outsized impact requires listening directly to end customers. To do this, Lean DataSM uses low-cost technology such as SMS, voice response and call centers, to communicate directly with end customers, getting high-quality data quickly and efficiently.

  • Data that Drives Action
    Even though we’re probably more excited than most about information, we know that data is never an end to itself.

    Working closely with our companies, we generate, analyze and use data that enables them to understand and, ultimately, improve their social performance. Our aim is to unlock the full potential of our companies in order to achieve the greatest social change for the customers they serve. And we use what we learn to become better investors

  • Listening to what’s important
    While measuring social changes might seem complex, it turns out that impact isn’t complicated at all to the customers we serve.

    These customers know what is hard about their own lives. Every day they experience things that are frustrating or wasteful or broken. As a result, it’s not difficult for them to explain how their lives change when they get access to improved goods and services. We use Lean Data to help customers communicate what impact means to them and then build our measurement and selection of metrics on what they tell us.

What is Lean Data?

Fast-moving social enterprises, strapped for cash and time, face a conundrum when it comes to measuring social performance. Traditional measurement tools, whether inherited from international development or impact investing, don’t make sense. They are either too costly because they were designed for large-scale aid projects or focus on typical business metrics that don’t get to the heart of impact.  Lean DataSM applies lean experimentation principles to the collection and use of social performance data. It involves a shift in mindset away from reporting and compliance and toward creating value for a company and its customers.

 

We’re focused on the poor.

The companies we invest in are delivering critical products and services that enable poor customers to transform their lives. That’s why we’re laser-focused on rigorously tracking the ability of our investees to reach these customers and understand their needs. Our success is defined by how well our investments enable the poor to transform their lives.

We Listen to What’s Important

While the standard approach in our sector is to gather metrics on numbers of people reached, we measure the social benefits people actually experience. That’s because we believe that creating outsized impact requires listening directly to end customers. To do this, Lean DataSM uses low-cost technology such as SMS, voice response and call centers, to communicate directly with end customers, getting high-quality data quickly and efficiently.

Even though we’re probably more excited than most about information, we know that data is never an end to itself.

Working closely with our companies, we generate, analyze and use data that enables them to understand and, ultimately, improve their social performance. Our aim is to unlock the full potential of our companies in order to achieve the greatest social change for the customers they serve. And we use what we learn to become better investors

While measuring social changes might seem complex, it turns out that impact isn’t complicated at all to the customers we serve.

These customers know what is hard about their own lives. Every day they experience things that are frustrating or wasteful or broken. As a result, it’s not difficult for them to explain how their lives change when they get access to improved goods and services. We use Lean Data to help customers communicate what impact means to them and then build our measurement and selection of metrics on what they tell us.

We work with leading funds, foundations, and companies to transform the way they collect and understand end customer insights

Lean DataSM Library

Stanford Social Innovation Review: The Power of Lean Data

A series of recent projects that incorporate lean design principles show that it’s possible to gather high-quality impact data quickly and inexpensively.

Read More

Innovations in Impact Measurement

Lessons using mobile technology from Acumen’s Lean Data Initiative and Root Capital’s Client-Centric Mobile Measurement.

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Energy Impact Series

A new collection of research on the impact of solar access featuring lean data customer insights. This series features lessons from new research on the social impact of off-grid energy access in emerging markets.

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The Lean Data Field Guide: Tips For Collecting Customer Data to Build More Impactful Businesses

This document is designed to serve as a field guide to help you conduct Lean Data projects. It is meant to be practical and action oriented.

Read More

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