Case Study: Chalmers (Non-Profit)

The Chalmers Center uses Skuid to innovate faster.

The Chalmers Center for Economic Development is a research and training organization that equips churches with economic development strategies that holistically empower people who are poor. By uniting cutting-edge research, micro-economic development interventions, social entrepreneurship principles, the Chalmers Center grows the capacity of the local church to transform the lives of low-income people without creating dependency. In August 2011, The Chalmers Center launched ASSET, a project to deliver Microfi nance-with-Education training to churches in the Majority World. Designed to scale up Chalmers’ international impact, ASSET required a centralized, cloud database and innovative, integrated mobile apps to capture real-time information from any anywhere around the globe. The Chalmers Center has now trained people working in over 100 countries and is currently piloting new delivery models using social entrepreneurship methods in Benin, Ghana, Mali, Sierra Leone, Togo, and the United States.


Challenge

To dramatically increase both the scale and depth of its training, ASSET needed a highly innovative distribution strategy leveraging low-overhead Mobile Training Centers (MTC). Each MTC required tools for collaboration and communication with other MTCs and Headquarters. In addition, The Chalmers Center wanted to do something radically innovative in the industry, enabling donor-investors real-time visibility into where microfinance training is occurring, who is attending, and the measurable financial impact of their financial investment.

Solutions

After considering many potential solutions, Chalmers chose Skuid and the Salesforce Platform® to automate its ASSET program. They chose Skuid to make the solution easier to use, faster, and more flexible to customize. They chose the Salesforce Platform for its ability to capture complex information from a variety of different devices and sources.

Using Skuid, Chalmers added innovative modules for tracking attendance with GPS-enabled smartphone cameras. When a class meets, the trainer snaps a photo which is automatically uploaded to the system with its GPS and time-stamp data. Chalmers knows when and where training occurred, and sees who was in attendance. The app instantly maps training events so donor-investors can also see where in the world their finances are making an impact. MIT’s Poverty Action Lab described this as a possible way of monitoring performance, and Skuid made it a reality for Chalmers.

With the solution, Mobile Training Center teams collaborate with built-in social networking, sharing ideas for how to improve the training experiences. Chalmers Headquarters staff see real-time feeds so they can offer immediate assistance and support to mobile teams. In addition, each MTC and microfinance loan recipient can upload financial information for tracking purposes with a Skuid-designed bank account tracking system. Custom dashboards show real-time program metrics, including MTC performance (attendees and revenues), microfinance performance, (loan repayments) and other information. Reports compare performance with other MTCs.

Results

According to Chalmers’ founder and CEO, Brian Fikkert, “Skuid has enabled us to do things once thought impossible. In fact, we are now able to do things that organizations 10 times our size have not been able to achieve, with much less money and time. But beyond this, the impact on our projects, programs and constituents has been phenomenal.”

Donor-investors have been amazed at the degree of transparency and level of information provided by The Chalmers Center, including the ability to actually see and participate with the people in whom they are investing. The user interface is so simple, anyone can use it from anywhere in the world. Because everyone loves using the system, both staff and donors can instantly view information that used to be impossible to gather.

Chalmers can monitor Mobile Training Center activity, even in remote parts of the world, virtually eliminating the possibility of fraudulent activities. With immediate access to data, Chalmers can address issues more quickly, including getting mentoring and support services to Mobile Training Center staff. Field workers save time and improve accuracy by recording their work from the road. With Skuid, The Chalmers Center dramatically improves performance by measuring quantitative and qualitative impact in churches and partnerships across the globe.

 

“Skuid has enabled us to do things once thought impossible.”

Dr. Brian Fikkert, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The Chalmers Center for Economic Development