How Data-driven Strategies Can Improve Impact Investing Outcomes
Data science is making inroads into the world of impact investing, helping program designers and beneficiaries achieve closer alignment between their goals and strategies. While some are building on models from the business world to correlate different pieces of ecosystems to understand how impact flows, others are attempting to marshal next-generation digital technologies such as blockchain to improve outcomes in areas such as disaster response and land titling.
The Rockefeller Foundation has been designing ways to harness data effectively in order to improve the effectiveness of impact investing. “Data really helps you understand the nature of the problem, and thinking about data ahead of time helps you structure your experiments and your interventions,” said Zia Khan, vice president of initiatives and strategy at the foundation. “Measuring data helps you prove what works, what doesn’t work, and then you can monitor and scale things up.”
The data movement is infectious. Khan said he sees “increasing appetite to learn more from some of the countries that have done some breakthrough work,” such as Estonia and India. In particular, he cited India’s biometrics-based identification system called Aadhaar, which has enabled millions of previously undocumented residents to open bank accounts and secure government benefits, education and jobs, among other gains.