The Impact Measurement Challenge


Calling all data geeks and entrepreneurs. Here’s a business opportunity.

Although there are better definitions out there, an entrepreneur is someone who identifies a perceived pain or a desired gain in the marketplace and uses innovative approaches to resolve the pain or bring about the gain. Well, I have a pain for you.

As I have been interviewing entrepreneurs for the Social Entrepreneur podcast, one pain point comes up again and again. They tell me that their greatest desire is to create social and environmental impact. However, it is difficult, time consuming and expensive to measure impact. The time and effort that they spend measuring impact reduces the resources that they have to actually have an impact.

Impact Investing

Now keep in mind, these social entrepreneurs don’t have time to complain about this. They’re too busy saving lives and making a difference in the world. Still, if I were to propose this as a challenge it would be something like this:

[spp-tweet tweet=”How might we increase the ease, efficiency and effectiveness of social impact measurement while decreasing the expense?”]

The social entrepreneurs I am interviewing already have the standards and tools that they need to measure business results. In fact, the tools are becoming easier to use and less expensive. QuickBooks provides online accounting software for small businesses. Wave delivers free and simple accounting and invoicing. Problem solved.

But when it comes to measuring social and environmental impact, well, that’s a tougher nut to crack. For example, Du’Anyam can easily measure the number of women who weave items, the number high-end hotels that carry their products and the revenue produced. But that’s not the only thing that matters to them. They’re trying reduce chronic energy deficiency and nutritional stunting; and increase economic empowerment among women. Measuring this impact is hard, expensive and time consuming. Any effort spent on measurement takes away from their ability to grow the business. If there were an easier way to improve data gathering and impact measurement, they could more easily improve the impact that they are having. They do not complain about this, but it is a reality of their business.

I have heard similar concerns expressed by Lumkani, X-Runner Venture, Sanergy and several social entrepreneurs in upcoming episodes of the podcast. The time, resources and time spent measuring impact is a distraction from their efforts to have an impact.

So, like any good entrepreneur, when I hear a pain point in the marketplace, I think “Hey, there’s a business opportunity in there somewhere.” And of course there is.

So, can you solve it? If you have a business solution that makes it easier for social entrepreneurs to measure their impact better, faster and cheaper, I’d love to hear from you. You can reply below or you can send me a message through the contact page. There’s a business challenge here. Can you solve it?

Leadership Development Expert
About the Author
Tony Loyd is a leadership development expert. He is a best-selling author, keynote speaker, and coach. He helps purpose-driven business leaders to thrive so that they can connect and contribute at a deeper level. Find out more at

2 comments on “The Impact Measurement Challenge

  1. JC says:

    I completely agree with you Tony that social entrepreneurs need a better way to measure their social impact. The challenge I have found is that each social enterprise makes an impact differently and what is pertinent to one is not the same to another and many instances over. In your pitch me post, you give a few examples of challenges; extreme poverty, hunger, water sanitation and etc. That got me thinking that instead of trying to find a complex universal solution to measure social impact, perhaps whoever undertakes it can start out by selecting one of those challenges and developing a means to measure social impact within that specific challenge. From there, they can span out to other challenges. That way social enterprises operating within that specific social challenge can have something that relates to them for measuring their social impact rather than trying to use a cookie cutter social impact measuring tool that may not fully understand all the variables in their area.

    On a side note, I was an Emzingo fellow in Lima and my room mate worked with X-runner. So glad to see that you are interviewing changemakers all over the planet!

    1. Tony Loyd says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I agree with the sentiment, JC. It would be incredibly difficult to find one measurement across all areas of impact, wouldn’t it? As time goes on, I am hearing from more impact measurement experts and learning more about what works. Some day I will be able to update this post with what I’ve learned.

      I am happy to interview social entrepreneurs across the planet. As long as there are 4 billion citizens of this planet who live in extreme poverty, there will be social entrepreneurs all over the planet who are seeking solutions. I’m always happy to connect, wherever we may be.

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