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The results are in: Small Foundation’s 4th annual stakeholder survey

In November 2023, Small Foundation conducted our fourth consecutive annual stakeholder survey to better understand:

  • How our partners perceive us
  • How useful our non-financial support is (in 2023 this included communications and network support)
  • How we are influencing the perspectives of partners and other system stakeholders
  • How we can improve to better meet the needs of partners to increase impact

We received 40 anonymous responses from our partners, peer funders, thought partners, and other ecosystem stakeholders.

Image: Where the respondent’s entity has impact (multi-select option).

What we learned

We are grateful for consistently positive feedback on both our work and approach to engaging with others. This year we noticed emphasis across the following themes:

  • As a team we are strong listeners and thought partners
  • Small Foundation is valued as a connector and facilitator of collaboration, and more of this work is desired
  • Our impact reports and other communications efforts to amplify our partners’ work are highly valued
  • Our non-financial support offerings are highly valued, including 1-1 sessions with our network NFS partner Converge and the Small Foundation communications team
  • Overall positive feedback on engaging with us as a partner, albeit with some issues around clarity and timing during due diligence
  • Consistency in our key areas of influence over the years including systems thinking and especially playing a leadership role in the networks space
  • The importance of research and learning for our stakeholders

Alongside these several new themes emerged:

  • Recognition of Small Foundation as a risk-taker for impact
  • A desire to see us deploy more resources to the ecosystem
  • Requests to consider convening our partners directly
  • Appreciation for how Small Foundation attempts to address the power imbalances inherent to our line of work

How we are integrating feedback

Across previous years, survey respondents have shared suggestions for how we can improve. Here are some areas we heard needed work, and how we have responded:

  • Our investment processes. We have worked on streamlining our internal processes including proposal templates, and we have increased capacity by hiring several new members across our investment and networks teams.
  • Visibility on our work and strategy. In 2021 we launched our systems change strategy; and began sharing annual impact reports in 2022. Noting we are continuing to optimise this work in the light of survey feedback and data from our communications channels.
  • Use our voice to amplify partner work. We have increased our support for and to partners around communications efforts.
  • Facilitate convenings. In February this year we were thrilled to host our inaugural partner gathering in Nairobi, which came to life in large part based on this continued request.
  • Influence other funders in the networks space. The inclusion of peer funders at our partner gathering meant we were able to introduce them to our network partners and the work they do. We also work to be vocal communicators in the networks space, with help from our network partners.

It is important to us at Small Foundation that we continue to listen and try to improve, which is ultimately why we solicit and greatly appreciate this feedback from our stakeholders.

Image: Small Foundation’s Net Promoter Score 2021-2023 in response to the question: “How likely are you to recommend engaging with Small Foundation to others?”

What next

We will continue to use this information to inform how we execute our work, including:

  • Our approach to relationship management and investment processes
  • How best to focus our internal and external communication efforts
  • Our allocation of resources, including provision of non-financial support
  • To determine where we can have most influence
  • To understand how others perceive our impact and role in the ecosystem

Thank you to all those who took the time to share your feedback. We look forward to your responses each year and value the insights offered. You help us to be better, more impactful funders, partners, and ecosystem actors as we work towards a thriving MSME ecosystem in sub-Saharan Africa.

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