In order to guide businesses struggling to measure their impact, we had the pleasure of interviewing Atilana Piñon, the co-founder of Retorna, a company dedicated to enhancing the lives of immigrants. Through this interview, we discovered how she successfully incorporated the theory of change into their impact measurement methodology. By exploring this inspiring story, you can learn how measuring impact can drive the growth of a startup and promote effective negotiations with stakeholders.
Do you consider yourselves an impact company?
Yes, from the beginning. In fact, Retorna was created with the intention of contributing socially by donating part of its profits. We need to embed the impact in our business model. That's where we started. We said: let's do our best for immigrants, and then we'll see how we make this an indicator, how we make this a company that also shows all the impact on society that's behind it.
How did you realize that you needed to measure the impact?
When seeking funding. Having up-to-date impact indicators can make all the difference. Investors are increasingly interested in collaborating with purpose-driven companies, and measuring impact is a crucial component of this. I faced this question multiple times during pitches and grant applications, including for the Cartier Women's Initiative fund, where quantifying impact was a primary concern.
How did you start measuring?
To begin measuring our impact, I first had to examine my own beliefs and determine what I believed to be the impact of our company. However, I quickly realized that translating these philosophical beliefs into concrete impact indicators was a major challenge.
What was the biggest challenge in measuring?
The biggest challenge I faced in measuring impact was figuring out how to apply the methodology effectively. At first, I had no clue where to begin, but with the help of a great impact measurement coach, I was able to master the process and implement it successfully.
How do you do it now?
Thanks to the support of a top-notch impact measurement coach, I now consider myself an impact measurement "Pro." My approach to impact measurement emphasizes the importance of understanding the inner workings of a business and how they translate into tangible indicators. While revenue and profit are critical business metrics, I believe that everything from community engagement to marketing and technology should ultimately work towards generating impact. By starting with the theory of change, I was able to gain a clearer understanding of how each piece fits into the larger picture and determine whether it adds value for our customers.
In one sentence, what is your impact?
Retorna's impact can be divided into two categories:
Firstly, the savings generated from transactions that create economic opportunities for immigrants and their families, leading to poverty reduction.
Secondly, the promotion of financial inclusion for individuals who currently lack access to financial services.
How have you used the results of the measurement?
After implementing the theory of change and its indicators in two successful pitches, our goal is to make it even more widely known by showcasing it not only on our website, but also to our valued customers. By turning it into a powerful communication tool, we hope to further promote our impact and inspire others to join us in our mission.
What would you recommend to a company that wants to measure?
Understand, and read about the theory of change.
Draw your own conclusions.
Look for someone who really knows how to measure impact.
While the end result of selecting impact indicators may seem straightforward, the process of getting there is far from simple. Seeking advice from an impact measurement expert can be invaluable in navigating this complex terrain and ensuring that your company is accurately measuring and communicating its impact.
What would you have done differently if you had known everything you know today?
If I had known what I know now, I would have integrated impact measurement into our business flow right from the beginning. Through partnerships and impact-focused marketing, it would have been easier to negotiate with stakeholders. When you approach impact measurement from the theory of change perspective, it becomes much simpler to explain, and negotiations that might have taken months could be reduced to just a few weeks because it's easier to make everyone understand what you're trying to achieve.
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