Article written by Education Subcommittee Chair Pali Singh
October 24, 2019
A workshop on Social Return on Investment (SROI) was conducted for IEEE Region 9 volunteers on 12 – 13 October 2019 in Guayaquil, Ecuador by Niru Prakash Kumar, Chair of the 2019 HAC Projects Committee, Mario Aleman, Member of the HAC Assessment Committee, and Dr. Pritpal (“Pali”) Singh, the SIGHT Education Subcommittee Chair. The workshop was attended by IEEE volunteers from six countries in Latin America including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Ecuador and Paraguay. The program started on 12 October with an overview and goals of the workshop presented by Mario Aleman. This was followed by Pali Singh’s presentation of an IEEE SIGHT project being conducted by the IEEE Ecuador Section SIGHT (in collaboration with the Philadelphia Section SIGHT) in a community in the Gulf of Guayaquil. This project is focused on rehabilitating solar home systems in this island community and conducting workshops with the community members on how to maintain these systems. Niru Prakash Kumar then presented the concepts related to calculating the social return on investment of a humanitarian project using a case study example of a clean water project in Zambia.
On 13 October, the group visited the island community to interview community members about the IEEE SIGHT project and to determine the outputs and outcomes of the project so that a SROI assessment could be performed.
The workshop was well received by the attendees, particularly since they had the opportunity to apply the theoretical SROI learnings presented on 12 October in the practical setting of the community visit on 13 October.
Participant Felipe Aravena, Chair of the PUCV SIGHT group shared,”The workshop not only taught us how to value a project but also to think and realize the impact in every stakeholder and scenario. Measuring the social impact is essential, it show us where to put our strength, what’s significant and what’s not, and most important, what to replicate, and what not to do ever again.”
Ronny Cabrera, Chair of the Ecuador Section SIGHT group said, “For IEEE SIGHT Ecuador, the SROI Workshop has allowed us to understand that we can only improve what we can measure, and this tool is ideal to identify where we can improve the impact of our projects, while strengthening the relationship with our stakeholders.”
Alexandra Cáceres from the UNA SIGHT group and current coordinator of the Small-Scale Social Aquaculture Project in Paraguay shared that during the workshop they were able to, “identify the impact of the projects for the stakeholders, get the perception of the community about the change that the project generated, and take a tour of the community to see the good [that has been accomplished]. We learned to value both quantitative and qualitative factors to measure results, and we can apply this in our communities with [our] projects.”
“The workshop was a nice experience to learn more about how to measure the impact of IEEE HAC and SIGHT projects. It gave us the opportunity to combine theory with practice when we visited the community of Cerrito de los Morreños and learned about the [project] results so we could apply them in other similar projects,” shares attendee Gidy Florez, the IEEE YP R9 ComSoc Coordinator from Brazil.
Other SROI workshops are being planned by HAC and SIGHT to inform IEEE volunteers around the world as to how to determine the impact of their humanitarian projects through the SROI analytical approach.