SNV’s exit from the education, tourism, forestry and health sectors is a major change facing the organisation. This evaluation was conducted in the period November 2011-March 2012. It assesses how the exit affected the results of SNV’s capacity development work in those sectors, considers the sustainability of client capacity, assesses knowledge transfer and provides an opinion as to what SNV could have done better to influence positively the consequences of its exit while taking into account specific contexts.
SNV is diversifying its financial basis to become less dependent on its core, institutional funding it receives from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In that context, this external evaluation (conducted November 2011-February 2012) of SNV’s Latin America and Vietnam’s transformation towards a more market-oriented approach, with important findings and directives.
SNV Managing Board’s response to the evaluation of SNV’s exit from sectors (August 2012)
SNV is going through major strategic and substantial transitions over the coming years. The organisation’s exit from the education, tourism, forestry and health sectors is one of these major changes. The main reason for exiting relates to a wish, as expressed in SNV’s 2015 vision, for stronger focus. Pushed by drastic budget cuts, SNV decided in January 2011 to exit the sectors with immediate effect instead of in 2012/13 as was originally envisioned. Not long after this exit, SNV was forced to close its Balkan activities. In this context, the SNV Managing Board (MB) commissioned the exit evaluation.
The evaluation was conducted in the period November 2011 – March 2012. It assesses how the exit affected the results of SNV’s capacity development work in those sectors, considers the sustainability of client capacity, assesses knowledge transfer and provides an opinion as to what SNV could have done better to influence positively the consequences of its exit while taking into account specific contexts. It also presents some notable effects of the exit on SNV staff and processes.
The MB has taken notice of the evaluation results. The findings are based on analysis of interviews with various internal and external stakeholders and observations and a variety of relevant secondary sources. The report addresses all evaluation questions and provides some critical and useful recommendations. On the whole, the MB is pleased with the evaluation and the lessons it presents (see the executive summary of the report).
The MB agrees with the main findings on the internal and external effects of the exit process. Internal effects on staff have been significant. Effect on clients and other partners, on the other hand, were not immediately observable in the case countries and at the time evaluation data were gathered. The MB accepts therefore that effects of the exit may indeed be better observed over a longer term.
Overall, SNV has handled the exit process fairly well according to the evaluation. At the same time the evaluators underscore the contextual variation between the three case studies conducted: “The reality that there were three different interventions in each country did not become apparent to the evaluation until well into the field work.” This complicated comparing findings from the three studies and distilling an overall, corporate process. Nonetheless, the case studies provide rich observations of some typical and some less typical dynamics.
The evaluators conclude that communication from SNV Head Office (HO) should have been more personalised and its effectiveness monitored more systematically. MB agrees with this and accepts the recommendation that SNV should pay more attention to communication, especially between the various layers of its organisation: HO, regions and countries.
Also in terms of managing external effects, the MB takes the findings of the evaluators seriously. In line with their recommendation, SNV will develop strategies and procedures to better ensure transparency towards clients and other stakeholders about decisions affecting their relationship with SNV.
As the evaluators point out, SNV HO should indeed have taken a stronger leadership role in the communication process. SNV appreciates this recommendation and realises it could have streamlined this process better. It recognises that such a leadership role should support communication between the various management layers and not only top-down messages.
Immediate practical lessons can be drawn from the evaluation for the current exit from the Balkan region as well as with communicating the various phases of SNV’s oganisational design in 2012 and 2013. SNV is committed to improve its monitoring of the consequences of these structural changes.
SNV Managing Boards response to the 'Process Evaluation of Transformation in SNV'
SNV is diversifying its financial basis to become less dependent on its core, institutional funding it receives from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. SNV Latin America (LA) and SNV Vietnam are at the forefront towards self-sustainability (no core funding from 2013 onwards) and have made radical changes in their strategies and operations. In this context, the SNV Managing Board (MB) welcomes the external evaluation (conducted in November 2011 – February 2012) of its LA and Vietnam’s transformation towards a more market-oriented approach. It provides important findings and directives for the change process SNV as a whole is embarking upon.
The MB accepts the quality of the evaluation. The findings are based on analysis of approximately 95 interviews with various internal and external stakeholders and of studies of a variety of relevant secondary sources. The report addresses all evaluation questions and provides some critical and useful recommendations.
On the whole, the MB agrees with the main findings of the report (see the executive summary of the report). However, it believes the report presents the transformation in a rather positive daylight. The evaluators conclude that SNV LA and Vietnam transformed through: a well-conceived, planned and implemented process. […] while still continuing to make a significant contribution towards poverty reduction and economic inclusion. In the countries evaluated, SNV seems indeed to be well positioned, but actual financial viability has not been proven yet. At the same time, the MB acknowledges that a detailed financial and market analysis and prognosis was beyond the scope of the evaluation.
The MB welcomes the evaluation’s recommendations to adopt a sense of urgency towards what the evaluators call the organisationadapting to the post-subsidy world. The evaluators also point to the need for developing aglobal business model around a coherent program producing ’billable results’ and supported by external resources streams. They recommend following SNV LA and Vietnam’s approach, namelyto first assess the local market potential and context for unsubsidized SNV services, and then plan a minimum supporting structure. The adoption of a business plan approach by SNV Vietnam and LA is much appreciated by MB and will be introduced in other contexts. Also SNV Vietnam’s emphasis on positive reinforcement, internal capacity building and strategic investments is much appreciated and will be promoted in the broader organisation.
MB agrees that in the organisation’s search for a viable future more clarity is required on future organisational relationships between SNV countries, regions, and SNV corporate; the‘rules of the road’,as the evaluators coin these, need to be identified. In effect, SNV has started already with revisiting the relationship between the various corporate entities and the corporate organisation. The main purpose of this process is to better prepare SNV for responding to diverse development opportunities within its main sectors: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Renewable Energy and Agriculture. The re-design process involves identifying an appropriate governance strategy, a business model, and a corporate structure in support of a sector-focused approach with a more diversified and less vulnerable funding base.
The MB does not agree with the recommendation to implement Inclusive Business (IB) as The Key programme module. As confirmed by SNV LA and Vietnam, MB believes that the viability and usefulness of an IB approach has been proven in many instances, but depends on the strength of the private sector in a certain context, the relationships of other relevant stakeholders, and the institutional and regulatory environment among other things. Moreover, the IB concept is just one of various ways to stimulate economic development that benefits the poor.
An important lesson that the MB draws from the evaluation is the need for more focused engagement and open dialogue between the Head Office, SNV LA and Vietnam. This will promote sharing and active learning from each other’s experiences. It will also promote trust and space for innovation in SNV systems and practice.