IDRC also commissioned an external evaluation, conducted during the last quarter of 2014. The evaluation took place over a seven week period at the end of 2014 and involved:
- A combination of Key Informant Interviews (20)
- Focus groups (2)
- Participation in the FIRE meetings held in Mauritius (November 23-27, 2014)
- Email interviews with project holders (17)
- Extensive file, budgetary and related website reviews.
The sample of project respondents included roughly 25% of all project owners among Seed Alliance funding recipients during the 2012-14 period.
The evaluation of the Seed Alliance found that the program was meeting many of its principal objectives. This was based on focus groups and email interviews with over 25% of Seed Alliance recipients, interviews with regional program staff and RIR CEOs, among others, along with extensive file and project reviews.
The evaluation concluded that the Seed Alliance:
- Recipients appreciate and find consistent favour with the program.
- Contributes considerably to the visibility of the Seed Alliance projects and partners.
- Effectively promotes networking and some mentoring.
- Is an important element in a process of sequential causation whereby recipients have their status and candidacy elevated for greater opportunity, partnership and eventual sustainability.
- Has produced development outcomes especially in the policies and practices of the partner RIRs but also in modest ways with Grant and Award recipients.
- Model works adequately but will have to be modestly revised to manage future growth and tenure.
- When compared with a similar organization and program of technology awards, it provides clear value for money.
- Reaches a broad spectrum of Internet innovators among entrepreneurial, NGO and university segments.
Several steps for revision were recommended for the future:
- A new “light touch” governance system should be adopted, including a Seed Alliance Executive Council among RIRs with an annual meeting of CEOs and Program Coordinators.
- The Seed Alliance needs to move closer to entrepreneurial clients and adopt an approach that continues to support the most successful candidates who have the greatest likelihood of innovation adoption and diffusion.
- The program also needs to form closer links with more robust sources of development financing.
- The “soft services” of the program, including networking, skills development and mentoring are highly valued and should be continued and where possible expanded.
- A model for better communications about projects and more integrated web reporting for the entire Seed Alliance is recommended.
- A modestly enhanced program of new partner recruitment and resource expansion should be pursued.
Recommendations from this external evaluation have been incorporated into the Seed Alliance’s plans for the 2015-2017 period.