Vera founders Zak, Taylor, and Karti met in 2008 while working for an HIV-prevention organization in South Africa.
Though the program staff were committed to using data effectively, vital information that could help inform programmatic changes and improvements was trapped in stacks of paper and increasingly complex Excel files that were only updated quarterly. Despite everyone’s best intentions, the data were often a burden, generating little more than frustration and a periodic donor report.
We helped to design and build an application that promised to alleviate this burden. Built on Force.com, it tracked each of the program’s hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries—along with data on individual attendance and pre/post outcome changes—monitoring the program’s progress and helping staff track subsequent testing, referral, treatment, and follow-up. The system transformed the program, enabling staff to quickly answer specific questions about effectiveness, efficiency, and scale, sharply reducing the burden of reporting to funders, and driving forward a culture of data-driven decision-making.
We soon realized the challenges faced by this program were nearly universal: most social impact organizations—from large i-NGOs to community based organizations, from funders to social enterprises—use paper and spreadsheets to track their operations and performance. Most organizations we met had trouble answering the simplest of questions like, “How many people do you serve?” or “How many products did you sell last week or last month?” or “How do your inputs and outputs break down across communities, countries, regions, populations, or program areas?” We started Vera Solutions with the goal of using simple, cost-effective technology to help social impact organizations ask and answer increasingly targeted and relevant questions about their operations and performance. We believe more transparent, automated and user-friendly data systems make workers happier and more productive and organizations more efficient and effective in everything that they do.
Today, Vera brings together a diverse team with years of experience in public health, conflict resolution, development economics, finance, and technology. We are committed to helping innovative organizations achieve greater impact by transforming their ability to collect, analyze, and use data in their daily operations. Together, we have worked with 170 organizations in more than 45 countries, and both our team and our footprint continue to grow.