How to Measure Social Impact

Silk Social Index

The agriculture sector in Sri Lanka responsible for over 25 percent of Sri Lankan employment and there are over 2 million farmers let alone their families. Most of these farmers are based in rural areas and doing their trade through middlemen. This often results in farmers getting low value for their products and unable to move towards commercial agriculture. Silk Social Index (SSI) is a proposed system concept for measuring social impact. SSI plans to identify the exact value or the contribution generated by each consumer purchase. This will monitor, measure, and add value to traditional Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practices. The index follows the international guidelines developed by one of the most recognized venture philanthropy associations, The European Venture Philanthropy Association. The indicators encompass the 9 pillars of prosperity which are developed by the Legatum Institute to identify the prosperity levels of countries in the world. 

 Setting Objectives 

 Organization Positioning – 

 This is where E-Silk Route Ventures is positioned according to The European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA) Spectrum. 


Project Objectives -

  • Uplift the livelihood small-scale farmer-based communities 
  • Bring down the poverty level of rural farmer-based communities 
  •  Elevate overall prosperity level and social progress of Sri Lanka 
  • Involve and collaborate with all the stakeholders in the value chain through their direct contribution 
 Theory of Change - 

  •  The theory of change is a method to identify how and why the desired change affects in order to achieve the desired outcome. We have developed the below diagram to simplify the whole process. 


  • Problem: Low-level income and poverty in rural farmer-based communities 
  • Inputs: Money, Human Resources, and Knowledge 
  • Activities: Direct trade with farmers, Backward value transferring System 
  • Outputs: Number of farmers engaged in the program, Total contribution, Total value raised 
  • Short / Medium-term outcomes: Standard of living increased 
  • Long-term outcomes: Legatum Prosperity Index Ranking improved 
  • Vision: Eliminate poverty in rural farmer-based communities

Stakeholders Analysis 

 Stakeholder Identification -

 We have identified the main direct and indirect stakeholders who engage with this project. 

  •  Direct Stakeholders - Small scale farmers, Farmer-based communities, Consumer, Investors, and partners 
  • Indirect Stakeholders - Suppliers, The social eco-system of Sri Lanka 

Stakeholder Engagement -

Small scale farmers and communities will help to understand the current situation and provide data to analyze via different types of surveys. Consumers will provide primary financial support, feedback for the project, and contribute to valuing the impact. Investors and partners will provide secondary financial support and other infrastructure.  

Measuring Results

Outcomes and Impact - 

The major outcomes that we are expecting are the farmers’ standard of living improvement, increment in trade competitiveness of the farmers, increment in the labor force participation (in given farmer community), increment in economic inclusiveness, increment in personal and social relationships, and increment in civic participation. Also, for the consumers, they will be able to contribute towards social and community empowerment (consumers will understand the exact value of the contribution they’ve made through purchasing) as well as they will receive high-quality goods. 

On the other hand, investors and partners will also be able to contribute to rural empowerment and improve their corporate social responsibility activities. Eventually, the Social eco-system of Sri Lanka will be able to contribute towards improvement in prosperity and social progress. 

These impacts and outcomes will be monitored through the following indicators,  

  • Satisfaction with household income 
  • Satisfaction with standard of living
  • Economic complexity index 
  • Export quality index 
  • Labour force participation rate 
  • Female labor force participation rate 
  • Unemployment rate 
  • Absolute poverty (% population living below $1.90 per day) 
  • Relative poverty 
  • Percentage of the adult population with a bank account 
  • Perceived level of opportunity to make friends 
  • Ability to count on family/friends for help 
  • Frequency of helping strangers 
  • Frequency of giving informal financial help 
  • Frequency of volunteering 
  • Satisfaction towards social and community empowerment contribution 
  • Satisfaction of final received goods 
  • Lagatum Prosperity Index ranking 
  • Social Progress Imperative Index ranking
Verifying and Valuing Impact 

Collecting data to verify and value - 

Data will be gathered by both qualitative and quantitative methods. Interviews with stakeholders, qualitative surveys, field visits to farmer communities, impact the storytelling method, case studies, quantitative surveys, and financial reports will be the main methods. Through qualitative and quantitative assessment methods a single value index (Silk Social Index) is developed. SSI will determine/measure the social impact created by a respective consumer purchase.  

Monitoring and Reporting 

Monitoring - 

  • Annual continuous monitoring system 
  • Collecting output data through Key Measures Aggregating Survey 
  • Self-assessment on the level of achievement 
Reporting - 

  • Report on the total number of farmers supported 
  • Videos 
  • Blog and post updates through website 
  • Testimonies 

The importance of the SSI lies in its ability to deliver quantitative measurements when using CSR practices. We have identified this as one of the major aspects of venture philanthropy. SSI should be able to distinguish the value distribution of a certain transaction in the value chain. The product end-user will be mindful of the impact they create. The proposed outline of the Silk Social Index (SSI) is developed through 5 highly effective steps. First, clear objectives were set using the theory of change. In the second step, all the stakeholders were analyzed. The third step is where the results measuring method is introduced. Data aggregation methods were briefly explained in the Verify and Value Impact step and the final step comprises the iterative process using monitoring and reporting.