Through its partnership with the Argidius Foundation, CEED was able to commission an external impact evaluation examining the performance of six CEED centers currently implementing CEED’s 4-in-1 membership approach against their impact objectives. Genesis Analytics conducted the assessment by and reviewed the CEED Centers in Kosovo, Macedonia, Morocco, Slovenia, Tanzania, and Tunisia. As part of the evaluation, the Genesis team conducted field visits to Macedonia, Kosovo, and Tanzania, the purpose of which was to conduct agreed data collection activities. The team also collected data collection virtual with CEED global staff and staff and entrepreneurs in Slovenia, Tunisia, and Morocco. Genesis complemented the primary data collection with a desktop review of data and documentation provided to the evaluation team by the CEED team.

An evaluation framework guided the evaluation according to key thematic impact pathways for the CEED program. Data collection methods included a desktop review of all relevant documents and data; 19 key informant interviews (KIIs) with CEED country and global staff; 10 in-person focus group discussions (FGDs) and 7 virtual interviews with CEED entrepreneurs; and a survey of 533 members administered by CEED country offices, which had a response rate of 81 percent. Click here for a detailed summary of the evaluation findings and recommendations and here for CEED’s Management Response.

CEED is grateful to the Argidius Foundation for the opportunity to work with Genesis Analytics to review our programming around the world.  CEED would like to thank Genesis Analytics for their collaborative approach and flexibility and agrees with the vast majority of the findings of this thorough analysis. CEED believes in adaptive management, and many of the recommendations of this analysis are already underway.

What CEED is Doing Well

CEED is pleased that this evaluation was able to confirm that CEED has made remarkable progress toward its vision of being ‘the most valuable resource for entrepreneurs in their growth by developing sustainable local communities around the world.’ The findings that resonated most with CEED include that:

In 2019, CEED’s contribution to revenue change was US $ 21.6 million with a 9.35 ratio of revenue increase per dollar invested

CEED has developed a model that increases its cost-effectiveness the longer a center is in place. For example, CEED Slovenia, founded in 2006, achieved a cost-effectiveness ratio of 30.28, and CEED Macedonia, founded in 2007, reached a ratio of 15.33. As CEED continues to contribute to long-term revenue gains, it looks forward to achieving higher cost-effectiveness ratios in existing centers and scaling this methodology in new locations.

The evolution of CEED’s approach incorporates learnings on how entrepreneurs learn, grow, and  requirements for each growth stage

Since 2006, CEED has been laser-focused on developing the most effective support to emerging-market entrepreneurs at their stage of growth. CEED’s 4-in-1 model reflects years of collecting best practices, understanding the needs of our members, and adapting our programming accordingly.

CEED plays a substantive role in growing and developing leaders, which helps build their confidence to manage their enterprises and teams better and implement accountability mechanisms

CEED’s methodology involves supporting the whole entrepreneur. CEED goes beyond the basics of how to run a business and to develop leaders who are prepared to address the many obstacles that entrepreneurs in emerging markets face. CEED members hold their peers accountable for making small incremental changes that lead to outsized impact for their business and their community.

Through peer-to-peer and CEED B2B events, business connections, and mentorship, CEED members have been able to create valuable relationships which guide and support entrepreneurs in overcoming business barriers

In 2019, over half of CEED members reported making at least one connection with a client or business partner through the CEED network. These connections are invaluable aspects of CEED’s programming because they enable CEED members to grow their businesses much more quickly than they otherwise would have.

How We Can Improve

CEED teaches its entrepreneurs that part of building a learning culture means acknowledging and accepting constructive criticism and using it to change for the better. CEED Management agrees with the recommendations made by Genesis Analytics, and in many cases, steps to address these recommendations are already underway. The recommendations from this report fell into four categories:

Enhancing value to members

As part of CEED’s strategic scale-up, CEED is planning to further refine the value proposition of the 4-in-1 approach, especially for older members. The strategic scale-up will also evaluate the efficacy and replicability of the chapter model and create clear guidelines and criteria to scale it. In 2020, CEED began a partnership with Creative Metier to improve its mentorship program by strengthening matchmaking services and mentor engagement. Furthermore, in March of this year, CEED launched its virtual Global Leaders Talks series, designed to connect entrepreneurs globally and guide members through the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Achieving gender equity

CEED is actively engaging with its female entrepreneur members to better understand their challenges and support them. Using this input in combination with existing literature about how to best support women and partnerships with donors interested in providing tailored support for women entrepreneurs, CEED is striving to improve its offering for women and women-led enterprises. As part of its strategic scale-up, CEED is also planning to institute a program-wide understanding of what constitutes gender equity and CEED’s gender-inclusive approach to ensure consistency in centers’ considerations around, and approaches to, gender equality.

Achieving center financial sustainability

CEED is in the process of hiring an external consultant to define the role that financial sustainability plays in establishing a center and to determine what the criteria are for rolling out the 4-in-1 model in an existing center. As part of its strategic scale-up, CEED plans to develop a fundraising strategy and hire staff and implement systems to support this strategy. The scale-up also aims to reduce the workload of staff further and improve their efficiency through better management tools and training.

Strengthening Monitoring and Evaluation

While CEED core indicators currently exist, CEED’s Impact and Learning Manager will do training to ensure that our core indicators are well understood and measured correctly. Additionally, CEED will produce this impact report annually to document and share member case studies. CEED has completed a Salesforce overhaul to revamp its monitoring and evaluation and member management system and now needs to focus on training center staff to maximize these tools, including a mechanism for capturing more consistent feedback loops. As part of the strategic scale-up, CEED aims to develop a robust and diversified fundraising strategy, increasing local M&E capacity. By increasing the frequency of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) training, CEED hopes to build local M&E capacity even among the staff who are not M&E experts.

What CEED learned

This evaluation allowed CEED to externally validate its impact gains and its innovative model that has been refined to meet entrepreneurs’ needs over the past 14 years. More importantly, the evaluation highlighted strategic areas for improvement that directly feed into CEED’s strategic scale-up initiative. CEED confirmed its need to enhance member value, evaluate center financial sustainability, and strengthen monitoring and evaluation efforts. CEED learned that while programs catered to women entrepreneurs are essential to create and pursue, refining its existing services to serve women entrepreneurs better is equally important. We hope this evaluation will serve as a critical baseline against which CEED can measure the effectiveness of its strategic scale-up initiative.