Impact Measurement and Management

IDEAS has a major emphasis in consulting and training on impact investment in the developing world.  It advises and does evaluation of each of the entities in whole investment value chain. IDEAS has played each of these roles so understands the process thoroughly.  It also has created each of these types of entities. Who better to be a consultant or evaluator than one that knows the actors and their interrelations on different continents?

We actively participate in impact evaluation as members of the Social Impact Measurement and Management Task Force of the American Evaluation Association and have been chosen as experts to teach workshops in several national meetings. We are members of the Atlanta Area Evaluation Association, Social Value US and Social Value International. We participate with the Global Impact Investment Network, IRIS+, ImpactAlfa, Impact Entreprenuer, Catalyst 2030, Georgia Social Impact Collaborative, EvalCommunity, Socap, among others.


Helped establish 5 financial institutions

This work was led by our CEO, Dr. Carter Garber who:

  • Founded a Microfinance Investment Vehicle (MIV) to channel impact investments in MFIs and agricultural cooperatives in Nicaragua. In 1991, it was one of the first entities to channel US investors monies to Latin American MFIs. Thirty years later, Working Capital for Community Needs ( lends in 7 other countries in Latin America. WCCN borrows from hundreds of individuals, churches, religious orders and denominations, and foundations.
  • Conceptualized and created a non-profit microfinance institution (MFI) in Nicaragua called PRESTANIC, for which he was the first CEO. Started in 1991, it was the first Latin America MFI that depended on socially responsible investors for all of its lending capital. ( He led lending to microenterprises, larger businesses, agricultural cooperatives, other MFIs and even to a rural bank. Other IDEAS team members were on the staff. Thirty years later, it continues to borrow from international impact institutions.
  • Was the organizing Chair of the Board for a for-profit MFI in El Salvador (Enlace) as it sought shareholders from Europe, US and El Salvador. (
  • Was the lead consultant to assist CARE to form MicroVest, a for-profit MIV that has lent over $1 billion worldwide to mainly MFIs (
  • Created the organizing effort and led the effort to obtain a federal charter for the Georgia Family Federal Credit Union designed to serve Latinos, other immigrants, and underserved populations. He served as the Chief Financial Officer. He supervised IDEAS team members creating it.

Consulting for Impact Investment Funds

IDEAS CEO, Carter Garber, is a pioneer in the field of impact investment from the Global North to the Global South since the 1970s.

Consulting for Impact Investment Funds

partners for common good

IDEAS did due diligence and site visits for the microfinance institutions in Latin America, which were borrowers from Partners for the Common Good 2000 Loan Fund. IDEAS was a part of the consulting team which recommended a permanent structure for this U.S. based nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), whose mission is to promote economic justice and social change by providing access to debt capital to community-based ventures that advance the ” common good”. PCG seeks to support innovative organizations and emerging sectors that have high potential to create economic opportunities for low-income people, women, people of color, at-risk populations, and others who are often left out of the economic mainstream. For more information,


IDEAS did due diligence on fair trade coffee producers and exporters for the Calvert Impact Capital when it wanted to explore lending in the sector. CIC invested initial millions in coffee cooperatives in Latin America based on the recommendations from IDEAS and others. Later it increased its lending dramatically to fair trade coffee coops. The CIC became a leading entity in channeling private investments to community economic development and microfinance in developing countries.

Oiko Credit

IDEAS several times provided capital markets consulting and due diligence in Latin America for Oikocredit, the largest lender to microfinance in the world, and to NOVIB, both of the Netherlands. We did work on a variety of fair trade coffee cooperatives in Central America who were their borrowers. For more information, see


IDEAS did consulting for Working Capital for Community Needs. We did a quantitative survey of their larger investors and their individual donors. We also did qualitative interviewing of all the investors who had lent more than $50,000. IDEAS consulted on how they could improve how they were capturing impact in their database.  See

Social enterprises

Many investment funds lend or invest in social enterprises. IDEAS has created over 15 social enterprises that are either for-profit and non-profit. They were a wide variety of entities including housing corporations, a health clinic, publications, a statewide organization, etc. We turned them over to local people as soon as we proved them to be viable. One of our more recent social enterprises was TecAp, the first microfranchise in Nicaragua. We trained 76 youth solar installers and 100 women salespeople to sell solar items. Read how we assist in solar enterprises in the consulting section. 

Our in-depth knowledge of how to create, build and grow enterprises make us very good consultants, trainers and evaluators. We know what makes enterprises work and why they fail. After having been contracted with social enterprises on four continents, we are able to guide them in how to increase their social, economic or environmental impact. Our skills are useful to impact invesment funds.


Impact Evaluation

IDEAS uses a variety of tools to perform impact evaluation including IRIS+. It is the widely accepted system for impact investors to measure, manage, and optimize their impact. It is a free, publicly available resource that is managed by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) – the global champion of impact investing. Leading impact investors use this system to measure, manage, and optimize their impact. Proper use of the IRIS+ system ensures a minimum level of consistency in a users’ impact claims and performance, which makes it easier for investors to analyze and extract useful information for decision making. Use of IRIS+ also facilitates the comparison of impact information.  IDEAS also uses a variety of other tools to help clients measure and manage the impact they seek.

The AIMS-SEEP Impact Evaluation Tools

The IDEAS CEO helped create the AIMS-SEEP tools, meaning Assessing the Impact of Microenterprise Services developed by the SEEP Network. We provide training and technical assistance in the use of the 5 AIMS-SEEP tools, which represent a worldwide standard for evaluating the impact of microfinance. We can help microfinance organizations learn to use these valuable tools. In four weeks they can train their personnel, do the interviews and prepare a report of recommendations for their managers and board of directors. The results will continue to be useful for on-going program monitoring purposes.

  • Provide results, which are oriented to managerial decision making.
  • Include 2 quantitative surveys and 3 qualitative tools.
  • Are used for primary research with clients, ex-clients and non-clients.
  • Are cost-effective, using a cross-sectional impact methodology.
  • Have been used with much success in Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia.
  • Have been promoted by funders and international organizations such as USAID, CGAP, Oxfam, ACT, Ford Foundation, ImpAct, BCIE, and NOVIB.
  • Are flexible, adaptable and participatory.
  • Measure changes attributable to the organization on four levels and multiple impact domains:
domains of impact
SEEP Ranking
SEEP Tools

The IDEAS team has worked closely with the following national networks of microfinance institutions to train their members and to assist them in evaluations:

SEEP Network
PHILNET – Philippines
REDMICROH (at the time called COVELO) – Honduras

ASOMIF – Nicaragua
ALPIMED – El Salvador
APPEND – Philippines

Carter Garber was the Lead Trainer and Lead Consultant for the AIMS-SEEP tools internationally. IDEAS led the piloting of the tools and the first trainings in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Members of the IDEAS Team taught the tools in many workshops in Latin America, North America, Asia, and Africa. We used and adapted of the tools in the detailed Manual we helped write and edit

IDEAS is assisting clients with 11 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. We help donors, impact investment funds, social enterprises and grassroots organizations to measure and manage their desired accomplishments of the specific SDGs that they have chosen. Various impact tools including IRIS+ are aligned with the SDGs. IDEAS is a member of the Catalyst 2030 international coalition that is committed to carrying out the SDGs.

Social Performance Management

IDEAS personnel played an important role in the early development of SPM. We pioneered SPM in Central America with our training of the first trainers in Nicaragua and then the region. We taught in Morroco and Mexico. IDEAS provided training and technical assistance to help organizations define their social objectives more clearly, collect data to measure how well they are reaching these objectives, and then use this information to improve products and services. The methodology maximizes their organizational effectiveness in helping their clients.

The Social Performance Task Force now is a global membership organization that is advancing a management style that puts clients at the center of organizational decisions.  You will find many tools in their resource center.

Poverty Assessment Training

Microentreprenuer woman w/menu outside shop - S. AfricaIDEAS was the lead trainer to teach the first 18 MFIs how to implement the draft Poverty Assessment Tools (PATs) that were being tested for practicality by The IRIS Center of the University of Maryland, the lead contractor for the development of the poverty indicators and the PATs under the USAID AMAP project. IDEAS was selected for the role of PAT training by IRIS because IDEAS has developed a strong international reputation over the last decade for being able to teach practitioners how to use a wide variety of evaluation tools with high quality results in a brief period. Helping the clients move out of poverty is a primary goal of most development organizations, including microfinance institutions (MFIs). Organization with USAID funding need to measure their progress in reaching this goal.

Multi-Country Evaluations

When an international or large regional organization with affiliates in many countries needs an evaluator to offer services in multiple countries and languages simultaneously, who do they contact?  Often they contact one of the large for-profit consulting firms made up largely of North Americans or Europeans because they think that few others have this capability. IDEAS wants local consultants around the globe to have a chance to compete so it built its multi-country capability. So when FINCA International, which has microfinance institutions in 23 countries, needed an organization to simultaneously evaluate its work over the last 5 years in its Eurasia Region in Russian, in its African Region in French and English, and in its Latin American Region in Spanish, IDEAS won the competition against larger, more mature for-profit consulting firms. How could we do it? We have Associate Consultants around the globe who live in the countries, speak the language and know the culture and the local finance markets. When FINCA International wanted to issue a second contract to have a consulting firm help its affiliates in 7 different countries in Latin America and the Caribbean develop Strategic Plans for the next 5 years IDEAS won that bid despite stiff competition. Our success came largely because we have so many highly qualified Associate Consultants in the LAC Region that FINCA would only have to pay for transportation and lodging expenses in two out of the seven countries. IDEAS could handle the other 5 countries with people who are citizens of those countries, operating out of their own homes and using their own vehicles. Our competitors proposed to fly in North Americans or Europeans to do the work, raising the cost dramatically, and perhaps lowering the quality of the market analysis by using people who were not as familiar with the local situation.

The strategic commitment of IDEAS to train and develop the services of professional evaluators in their own countries is a comparative advantage against other consulting firms with much greater resources. Our clients benefit and, ultimately and more importantly, the poor people of the countries benefit when an excellent quality job is done by local Associate Consultants.

These are other examples of  contracts in which we consulted simultaneously in multiple countries:

  • We evaluated MFIs and technical capacity of World Vision International in 4 countries in Asia, Africa & Latin America. Simultaneously, we did impact evaluations as well as institutional evaluations in Guatemala in Spanish, in Ghana in Twi and Aca languages, and in the Philippines in Tagalog. All these field notes then were translated by IDEAS’ Associate Consultants and the reports for World Vision and USAID were prepared in English.
  • Development organizations in 4 Central American countries were evaluated in 2005-6 for the Irish Development Agency ( DCI), all without purchasing a single airline ticket.
  • IDEAS evaluated MFIs in 4 Central American countries for Katalysis, again requiring only ground transportation.
  • IDEAS worked with its strategic partner to plan a training institute in 12 countries of the Middle East for SANABEL, after doing research in Arabic, French and English.