The true test of any successful international development intervention is not so much what happens during the programme, but what happens after it has come to an end. In SPRING’s case, we wanted to understand how the SPRING experience continued to shape businesses and how they’ve adapted to a COVID-19 world.
SPRING implementation ended in September 2019. So, 4 years after SPRING worked with Cohort 1 businesses and 1 year after working with the Cohort 4 businesses, we put SPRING’s sustainability to the test. We traced 52 of the 75 businesses and asked if and how they have continued to engage with adolescent girls; how and when they are using HCD; and how their prototypes have changed since the end of the programme, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, what did we find out?
- Yes, SPRING businesses are still reaching adolescent girls! And, well over half of them are specifically and deliberately targeting girls, too. That means that they are developing products and services, with adolescent girls front and centre of their design process. The girls are not just a component of their target market, but the core target audience.
SPOTLIGHT ON KIDOGO
One success story of SPRING’s sustainability is Kidogo, a Kenyan business that participated in SPRING in 2016. Kidogo recruits and trains adolescent girls with young children as ‘Mamapreneur’ Day Care Operators to provide childcare services to low-income families that live in informal settlements. The girls receive specialist training in early childhood development as well as in entrepreneurship. Over the last five years, Kidogo expanded from a network of 30 Day Care Operators to a network of 175 in 5 different localities. They also expanded their model, partnering with vocational colleges to set up childcare centres, thus enabling adolescent girls with young children, to continue their education.
- COVID-19 has made it more difficult to reach girls. Girls who don’t have internet access are at particular risk of missing out on SPRING-supported products and services. Face to face services and outreach work have been impossible during the lockdowns. A lot of businesses have moved their products and services online to help them maintain an income stream. The result of this is that girls from poorer families and especially those in rural areas are less likely to have internet access and therefore less likely to receive benefits from SPRING businesses’ products and services.
- Businesses target girls because they care about improving girls’ opportunities and wellbeing. Businesses recognised their role as change agents in society and explained that they want to contribute to changing community perceptions about girls’ social and economic empowerment
A quarter of the businesses we spoke to also explained that they’ve been more mindful of gender parity, and girls’ and women’s roles within their business, as well as trying to get more girls on board as customers or clients.
HCD is still the go-to tool for businesses to help them engage with girls, and it’s helped them pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic, too. Every business that we spoke told us that they had used HCD in some way since SPRING ended. Many told us that it is instrumental in almost every decision they make. Businesses still agreed that it’s time and labour intensive, but lots of businesses have found a way to tailor the method to their own way of working, meaning they can reap the benefits with fewer costs.
Did SPRING ‘pass’ the sustainability test? Yes. Our study, which you can read in full here, shows that businesses are still putting girls at the front and centre of their work. One of the central questions that SPRING needed to answer was whether businesses could be used to achieve developmental goals. Our study shows that, yes, they can.
Read our Sustainability Study here.