Give ME the Diamonds!

AKA: Blog Post No. 4

I’m going to try and perform this critique as systematically as possible. I’m not going to comment on things that i don’t have anything to say on/ agree with. just FYI.


it has become apparent that LC must not only take the time to contextualize its activities within the realm of development but also in the realm of human relationships.

Don’t forget to “contextualize its activities” in the context of a Business. thats perhaps the single most important aspect of this whole thing.

so LC has been working at efforts to move beyond exclusive loan provision and towards business development services as a whole.

Perhaps even doing small business loans?

Both client retention and repayment have been shown to improve following BDS provision

Has this been shown within La Ceiba? I would like to see some data on that, if you have it.

We are not at a point in project development where we have conceived of a measurable impact

I think if we did small business loans, the measurable impact would be “did they make a sustainable business?” Heck, we could make initial small business loans to give to a bunch o’ people from the competition or class or w/e, and the measurable impact is done and done. just a thought, though.

there is a slight difference in the business planning for a startup (i.e. aspiring) entrepreneur and a small enterprise business (i.e. established) entrepreneur.

Theoretically, there is no difference. A startup business sufficiently satisfying a niche will have success, while a business that is not sustainable in the first place will not have success. the only difference is in the market a business is trying to start in. So I would say the only difference between the two things you’ve said are semantic, rather than practical.

I can’t think of anything else to comment on, since BPC seems to have everything well reasoned and evaluated. So i can’t think of anything other than minor opinions, but this is your area of expertise so I wont assume to know more than you on things you’ve clearly put alot of research and thought into.

So besides my comments above, things are lookin’ Good!

6 Responses to “Give ME the Diamonds!

  • The BPC team is right to acknowledge that they are not at the point where they can develop measurable impacts. Impacts are more complex than just whether sustainable businesses are created: that falls more under the output/outcome (arguably) category (in impact analysis, there is generally inputs –> outputs –> outcomes –> impacts, each of which is progressively more indirect and larger-scale). Just creating businesses is not enough: those businesses have to demonstrably benefit the microentrepreneurs. And this is a complex issue, as the BPC team implies: how do we know that the fact that this program was implemented led to successful businesses (couldn’t they have created these businesses on their own? Counterfactuals are essential, in that we have to show that this couldn’t have happened any other way through a control group)? How did those businesses contribute to their well-being in a way that, for example, a wage job could not have done? All of these linkages have to be demonstrated and explained, with measurable indicators at each step. The BPC team is right to first focus on these initial steps, so that we have our inputs to build upon. Without knowing exactly what the inputs are, it is impossible to do more than dream about impacts.

  • I clicked on this post with the intention to comment on how impact analysis is much more complex than you have described it as, but I see that my fellow impact teammate has beat me to it. Therefore, I only have one comment, we really need to define what we want our overall impact to be. Only then can we set up targets to analyze our established indicators to then see if we have reached our set outcomes. If we reach our set outcomes, then we can start to analyze our impact (whatever we decide it to be; i.e. poverty alleviation, economic growth, incomes…).

  • salvarez2012
    14 years ago

    In response to your observation, “The only difference is the market a business is trying to start in”, I think I should clarify a few points and pose some questions that will hopefully elicit some perceptive responses, so as to help the BPC make a few decisions about our application.
    The research we’ve done has demonstrated a mixed basket of differences between aspiring and established entrepreneurs. The point we were trying to make with the statement, “there is a slight difference in the business planning for a startup (i.e. aspiring) entrepreneur and a small enterprise business (i.e. established) entrepreneur”, is that aspiring and established entrepreneurs may have varying levels of entrepreneurial experience and/or a variety of personality traits that distinguish them from one another and make them more or less suited for business development. The differences that we are able to discern will help us define appropriate curriculum for the advancement of their personal financial literacy and/or business planning. We know that what really sets these two types of entrepreneurs apart is more than just the market they are entering. Unless I’ve misinterpreted your question, the market in which both types of entrepreneurs enter is likely to be similar if not the same. What will vary are the reaction of that market to their business and the reaction of the entrepreneur to already existing competition or external constraints. It is the goal of the BPC application process to separate, with what information we know, the applicants into two groups based on: applicant’s potential viability in the classroom, type and breadth of business idea, and experience with business concepts which reflect on their ability to run a business.
    My question to you and to the rest of LC is: Knowing what you know about Las Brisas, Villa Soledad, and our clients; what do you see being the main distinguishing factor between, what you would consider, an established or aspiring entrepreneur? Better yet, how would you define aspiring and established? Is there a difference? Or is it as Russell suggests a matter of semantics rather than practicality? Thanks Russell for bringing this to our attention. This really is the burning question that I’m still grappling with as we create the BPC application.

    • russellscott
      14 years ago

      You raise valid points, and so i stand corrected in implying that there is only one clean cut difference.

      In response to your question, though, the point i was trying to make was that A well put together business plan is not variable. If a business plan is good, it will succeed, whether the entrepreneur is “established” or “aspiring”. I see how you are trying to differentiate (and with good reason) so that you can increase the number of people that will develop good business plans, but I also think that the more important factor is less the level of experience and more the “business mind”. Those that already have a firm grasp of what needs to go into a business to achieve success would do well to be separated from those who have no idea, and THAT is the distinguishing factor i feel like you were trying to indicate.

      That is why, as i mentioned at the pizza shindig, that having some kind of sheet on the application that asks a person to outline what their business plan is like. you’re unlikely to get anything that is perfect–i think we all acknowledge that its not an easy concept–but you WILL be able to say “aha! This person has some idea of how the system works, while this person has no idea whatsoever.”

  • Creating a program for small business loans will be the next project of the Loan Team, and is separate from the business plan competition. While the two will work together, as outlined in BPC’s PR, small business loans will not be a function of this team. That being said, you asked for examples from within La Ceiba about client retention and repayment of business clients of La Ceiba, of which we don’t yet have. Perhaps some data exists from the bag program, but I really don’t know. Other than that, interesting critique.

  • I think something that we need to realize sooner rather than later, is that there will be a significant amount of our impact will not be quantifiable. The journey of our clients, learning and growing, as they progress through the business plan competition is more important than winning the competition.

    In fact, I wouldn’t be opposed to offering a suite of additional consolation prizes to our clients. I also don’t believe that we have significant information about our clients cashflow to apply conditions to the prizes. Do we have the time, assets and knowledge to follow up in a meaningful way?

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