OAKLAND, California — “Captricity has helped transform the way Innovations for Poverty Action approaches data entry,” Niall Keleher, former director of research methods and knowledge management for Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) told The Borgen Project.
As a nonprofit organization, IPA implements economic development research projects and evaluations designed by academics and non-governmental organizations to illuminate policy and philanthropic responses to combating global poverty.
In more than 50 countries, 500 IPA staff manage data collection. Most of these studies involve personal interviews with upwards of 1,000 participants and thousands or millions of survey pages.
“I was the country director in Malawi for three years and we ran a lot of paper surveys,” Keleher continued. “It could take three to six months before we had a fully reconciled, double entry data set for the researchers. That was very taxing for our research team.”
This is where Captricity can come in. A start-up headquartered in Oakland, California, Captricity helps nonprofit organizations, as well as the insurance, healthcare and government sectors, to get paper data into a digital form quickly, securely and accurately.
As a social enterprise committed to maximizing social impact alongside profit, Captricity’s mission is to democratize data access by giving organizations faster and easier access to high-quality data, to help drive the world forward.
Captricity’s crowd-guided deep learning software-as-a-service captures structured, handwritten information from forms. This data then connects seamlessly to backend systems and populates searchable spreadsheets, enabling advanced analytics.
IPA became one of Captricity’s pilot projects. When selecting partners, Captricity looks for organizations with which it can partner to make the most impact. The organization has to present a case study (project or program) to Captricity and then explain how it can benefit significantly from access to digitized data, which should have a considerable impact on the overall project outcome and positively advance the organization’s mission.
IPA now collects 95 percent of its data electronically, and receives accurate and actionable data within days instead of weeks to establish baselines and run analysis. IPA staff are now able to spend more time analyzing results, and less time on manual data entry.y
“IPA’s results can often shape policy,” Captricity president and co-founder Dean Karlan said. Karlan has testified to Congress referencing data accessed using Captricity.
Within the last five years, Captricity has partnered with over 35 nonprofit organizations worldwide to combat global poverty. With Captricity, Sanergy is better able to provide cleaning sanitation for people in urban slums in Kenya; Young 1ove can more effectively connect young Botswanans with the life-saving information to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS; Esoko helps more farmers in Ghana make a living via mobile technology.
Captricity also offers a solution to deliver results to teams in remote areas with little internet. They only need to be connected while uploading documents and downloading results, and this is very important for those working in remote locations without internet access.
Captricity is currently expanding the nonprofit organizations on its list, hoping to make more sustainable impacts on reducing global poverty.
“We are always looking for organizations to work with and welcome any and all that have an interest in finding out how our software might be applicable for their needs,” Captricity head of communications Abby Topolsky explained to The Borgen Project.
In the long term, Captricity wishes to grow into a model for all other social enterprises by showing how to be profitable and socially impactful at the same time.
– Yvie Yao