Prerna Mukharya’s five-year-old research and data startup is building solutions that could have a lasting impact on millions of people, given how a majority of India still lives in its villages, and is offline. Gathering data about their needs is critical, says the 31-year-old founder of Outline India, a for-profit social enterprise. This year, Mukharya wants to ramp up the research and data base across the country, and launch products. She talks to Fortune India about the reach of her startup and her plans for 2018.
What does Outline India do and what does it solve?
Outline India is about creating value in the social sector using data, and engaging in evaluations. We help to understand how fund spend by donors is effective, understanding whether government policies are creating a change, and measuring that change. Given how a majority of India still lives in its villages, and is offline, gathering data points and talking to people about their needs and wants and understanding the story behind it is critical. Our clients are think-tanks, academic institutions, not-for-profit organisations, corporates, and government agencies.
Who were your key clients?
We have done work for University of Chicago, CARE (a non-profit venture), USA’s Mathematic Policy Research, and measuring the impact around the work of a Nobel awardee from India, among others.
What is new this year?
Outline India is super excited to launch its Track Your Metrics (a web and mobile-based platform) that will change the way we think about accountability and data reporting in the development sector. It simplifies the process of survey formulation backed by data collection and data visualisation. The tool just won a grant. As we close our testing phase, we have commenced conversations with certain impact investors as well. 2018 will be a super reciting year, one where we will hopefully touch the 5,000 plus villages covered mark.
How does the platform work?
Geared towards small NGOs and big funders, it will remedy the problem of big funders being able to track the work of their grantees on one hand, and for very small NGOs to be able to build impact metrics using a question bank. We are trying to automate assessments and audits, which is a complex problem by capitalising on the networks of an unskilled workforce, such as volunteers at small NGOs. It will help the small NGOs that lack researcher capacity and funds and don’t measure outcomes to assess their work. We think our tool can standardise self reporting and change the ecosystem towards accountability. It will also enable the government to gather complaint/feedback and suggestions on its services and schemes. Like a third party audit.
What is Outline India’s reach?
We have worked across 4,000 villages in over 23 states, gathering information and interviewing over 3 million people. Our workforce includes 17 researchers, four consultants, and a large field force of over 200 people who work on project basis for data collection across India.