By Charndré Emma Kippie
Nyaradzo Mutanha, Monitoring & Evaluations Specialist at Tshikululu Social Investments, has been working with Tshikululu Social Investments for the past 4 years, and is passionate about philanthropy and making a difference in the lives of citizens across Africa. Born in Harare, Zimbabwe, Nyaradzo obtained a Masters degree from the University of Free State , and is an expert on measurement metrics and tracking social development interventions.
Established in 1998, Tshikululu Social Investments defines social investment as any financial commitment – from grant making to impact investing – which seeks to drive and measure social impact. Their service offering is underpinned by a deep and hands-on understanding of the complexities of development and social investment. As agents of social change, the organisation partners with clients throughout South Africa to realise their social investment goals. Tshikululu has operated in every province in the country, covering urban and rural areas, and collaborated with social investors in various industries including mining, financial services, renewable energy, property development, banking, insurance, healthcare and logistics.
Please tell us about how your journey with the company began, and what your role within the organisation entails?
My journey with Tshikululu Social Investments started in May 2017 when I joined the fund manager as an Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist. I was just coming from Wits RHI, where I had specialised in managing public health programmes, and was also simultaneously completing my Masters degree. I was so excited to be joining an organisation where there was a diversified team of professionals passionate about social investment, and it was the right place to utilise my monitoring and evaluation skills, which I had always wanted an opportunity to expand upon.
My responsibilities are mainly ensuring that all our client portfolios have sound Monitoring & Evaluation Frameworks and systems in place. I am responsible for largely monitoring and evaluating clients’ social investment portfolios in order to ensure that there is efficiency and effectiveness in programme implementation. My duties, therefore, include developing Monitoring & Evaluation Plans, developing Theory of Changes that are strategy based, leading evaluations namely Community Assessments, Baselines, Process, Outcome and Impact Evaluations, managing consultancy for externally commissioned evaluations, ensuring that we have sound Monitoring & Evaluation Frameworks for our wide range of clients, and managing the Monitoring & Evaluation Officer.
What are your main career objectives? How do you hope to make a difference through your work at Tshikululu?
I am currently in a very happy space because I am doing what I love – measuring and managing impact. My career objective, working at Tshikululu Social Investments, is to keep expanding my Monitoring & Evaluation knowledge with a specific focus on Impact Management and Measurement. I make a difference with my work because I constantly ensure that there is promotion of accountability in the work that we do. Measuring impact is something very close to my heart, as well as client relationships because it gives us an opportunity to account for every Rand spent in social investment work.
Tell us a bit about your background – how did you get to this point?
I have travelled a very long road to be where I am today. I have been exposed to the development sector in SA and in Zimbabwe. I started working in the development space at the tender age of 19. Before starting University, I worked for a youth organisation promoting youth empowerment for a year and it gave me foundations of understanding why measuring change is important. By the time that I started university, I knew what I wanted to do with my career and after graduating, I have worked in different social development sectors namely supporting orphans and vulnerable children, preventing and responding to Gender Based Violence, promoting health rights and access for vulnerable groups like key populations and lately social investment space.
What are your thoughts on ‘blended financial social impact work’?
The concept of blended financial social impact work is gaining traction amongst social investors because investors are constantly weighing the potential return on investment. Blended finance makes use of different funding sources like Government aid and philanthropic sources to mobilise private capital that do not only support development initiatives but do it in a positive way. We know that markets in development countries are more volatile in comparison to developed countries and various reasons like the socio- economic status, political environment, and currency among others possess some level of risk in investments. The blended finance interventions allow international agencies to invest in these markets and also encourage the public and philanthropic to invest alongside them, thus, minimising risk as well as making development spending more catalytic.
Why are you so passionate about Philanthropy?
African countries currently grapple with a lot of challenges in an attempt to meet SDGs and NDPs. Additionally, perpetuated funding from international monetary funds like IMF have done very little to improve the quality of life for Africans and reduce inequalities, poverty as well as improve life expectancy. I am very passionate about philanthropy work because I believe our solutions are brought about by young professionals who understand development issues and who develop sound grassroot strategies that respond to what development countries need.
What 3 tips do you have for intentionally measuring change?
- Develop metrics that directly measure change. Measurement metrics should not just be developed as a tick box but should be aligned to the Theory of Change and strategic initiatives. The C.R.E.A.M (Clear, Relevant, Economic, Adequate and Monitorable) approach helps you develop metrics that directly measure change.
- Establish and constantly review your Monitoring & Evaluation Plans for your strategic initiatives. Monitoring & Evaluation Plans are key measurement tools that allow you to periodically assess and track the results of your intervention throughout the cycle of a programme.
- Be very intentional about evaluation. Evaluations, if conducted properly using the correct Monitoring & Evaluation methods, assist social investors not only measure impact but attribute impact to their investments, promote accountability, adapt and make evidence-based funding decisions.
In terms of Project Due Diligence, what do you feel potential clients should know beforehand?
All the clients that I have worked with demonstrate an appetite for measuring impact as part of project due diligence. While they might have different experiences, level of knowledge and understanding of what impact is and entails, there is a common understanding that one can understand change if they have a sound Monitoring & Evaluation system in place. It is imperative therefore for us as a Fund Manager to ensure that all interventions are guided by a high-level Theory of Change as well as a Monitoring & Evaluation Plan. Further, bringing clients along on this journey helps them understand causal pathways in bringing about change. Funding programme partners that are aligned to your strategy is a key project due diligence step. In addition, they should have a working Monitoring & Evaluation System so that they are able to measure change along with you.
Have you read any books or listened to any podcasts that have inspired you and your career thus far?
Yes. I have read up a bit on adapting to conducting evaluations during the pandemic – How do we adapt our evaluation approach to the impact of the COVID Pandemic on EvalForward (2020). I have also read Monitoring and Evaluation of Policies, Programmes and Projects by C. Eresia-Eke and C. Allen lle.
What is your ‘why’ i.e. Bottom line?
I stay motivated by expanding my knowledge in impact measurement and keeping abreast with the latest trends. This allows me to know what’s happening around me and to expand my knowledge on developing the latest skills set of measuring change.
What advice do you have for future generations who aspire to work in your industry?
You need to be passionate about development work as it will be easier for you to excel in my field. Monitoring & Evaluation goes beyond numbers. There are people and human beings behind statistics. Stories of impact are not just told in numbers, but qualitatively as well. Be passionate about change, be passionate about people, understand SDGs and NDPs, understand social investment and development trends of your country. Enrolling for a degree also helps you with insightful thinking. Some courses and diplomas in Monitoring and Evaluation will help you grasp basic concepts.
If you could have dinner with any influential figures (dead or alive), who would they be and why?
My late mother – Grace Mutanha. She was a public health nurse working in a poorly resourced clinic. She served people wholeheartedly besides the fact that she worked in resource constrained settings. She taught me basic things like putting your best effort towards what you do, besides not having access to resources. She taught me that being female must not restrict you from achieving your dreams. We live in a patriarchal society where women are expected to conform to gender norms and my late mother taught me to challenge all these. I am the woman I am today because of her. I chase my dreams relentlessly.
Outside of work, are you involved in any extracurricular activities, hobbies and/or community outreach projects?
I have developed an obsession for strength and cardiovascular training of late. I love hiking, jogging and spending time in the gym.
*For more insightful interviews with Top Women Leaders in their respective fields, check out the 16th edition of the Standard Bank Top Women Leaders publication on Issuu – Digital Publishing Platform – here.