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The High Returns of Educated, Empowered Girls A Social Return on Investment Evaluation of the Time + Tide Foundation’s Girls Clubs in Mfuwe, Zambia

The High Returns of Educated, Empowered Girls A Social Return on Investment Evaluation of the Time + Tide Foundation’s Girls Clubs in Mfuwe, Zambia

The Time + Tide Foundation launched a Girls Club programme in the rural area of Mfuwe in the Eastern Province of Zambia in 2015 after realizing how socially and academically ill-equipped female students were to transition from primary school into high school. Specifically, girls appeared to lack knowledge and confidence with the English language and have limited (if any) understanding of their sexual health rights and choices. Additionally, the Time + Tide Foundation learned that girls in this rural area of Zambia had an ingrained, patriarchal perspective on gender norms and were subject to cultural practices that contributed to their low levels of confidence and decision-making abilities. In response to this information, the Time + Tide Foundation formed extracurricular Girls Clubs in 2015 for girls in the final years of primary school, with a focus on girls who were considered to be at risk of either dropping out of primary school or not advancing to secondary school. These clubs have continued for nearly eight years and serve as safe, female-only spaces, through which the girls receive supplementary academic lessons, with a heavy focus on English, information on sexual and reproductive health and participate in activities that build their self-esteem levels.

All of the girls enrolled in the clubs face significant familial, social and/or academic hardship, and the vast majority live at or below the poverty line (living on less than $2 USD per day), with average family sizes of seven individuals. Teachers recommend girls for the club whom they feel to be at risk of dropping out of school, and the Time + Tide Foundation (TTF) then assesses these girls through interviews as well as review of their transcripts and English language ability. The clubs in Mfuwe are held at two primary schools (Yosefe Primary School and Matula Primary School) in two separate chiefdoms (Kakumbi Chiefdom and Mnkhanya Chiefdom), approximately 20 km apart. The girls in the clubs come from over 30 different villages that are within the catchment areas of these schools, traveling distances of up to 5 km daily by foot or bicycle. The majority of girls live in households with no wage earners (informal income generation) and have mothers who did not finish primary or high school.

In the year 2022, the Girls Clubs in Mfuwe had 53 participants: 22 girls in Grade 5, 28 girls in Grade 6 and 3 girls in Grade 7, which is the final year of primary school in Zambia. While these girls comprise the direct beneficiaries of the programme, over the years the TTF has received reports of the indirect ways in which the programme creates value: anecdotes of other students absorbing information from the club second hand, mothers changing their attitudes towards their daughters and teachers learning new ways to engage female students. Since 2020, the TTF has experimented with a couple of different social return on investment (SROI) methodologies in order to report back to donors on the social value created through their philanthropic investments, and to understand the most valuable aspects of its programming. In 2022, the organisation came across Social Value International (SVI) and its stakeholder-centred approach to analysing SROI. Three of the TTF senior team members completed the Online Social Value & SROI Accredited Practitioner Training Course in 2022 and obtained their Level One Social Value Association qualifications. In 2023, these TTF Social Value Associates undertook SROI assessments of the organization’s core programmes with support from Think Impact, an Australian social impact consulting, project management and capacity building firm.

The purpose of these SROIs is to:

  1. understand where the most value is created per programme from the lens of stakeholders;
  2. report back to donors on the social returns of their donations; and
  3. for the associates to attain the Level Two Accredited Practitioner qualification and thereafter incorporate SROI analyses into the organisation’s monitoring and evaluation protocols

Each programme is being analysed with the evaluative approach over the year of 2022 as a snapshot in time: analysing the total value experienced by stakeholders involved over the calendar year of 2022 against all of the investment relevant to those stakeholders, which for this assessment spans a period of three years (2020-2022). This report presents the results of the SROI, which include all of the social value created for the 2022 stakeholders involved in or affected by the two Girls Clubs in Mfuwe, Zambia. For some of these stakeholders, those who have interacted with the programme since 2020, this social value has been cumulative over two to three years (2020-2022), which has been accounted for in the investment calculations. 


The Girls Clubs under evaluation occur in two primary schools in two locations in Mfuwe, Zambia. The first is at Yosefe Primary School, located in the Kakumbi Chiefdom of Mfuwe, and the second is at Matula Primary School, located in the Mnkhanya Chiefdom of Mfuwe. Both chiefdoms form part of the larger Mambwe District, in the Eastern Province of Zambia. The assessment takes a ‘snapshot in time’ approach and includes the value experienced by the 2022 stakeholders over the entirety of their interaction with the Girls Clubs. The 2022 stakeholders comprised groups or individuals who interacted with the Girls Clubs for different amounts of time, specifically one to three years, with the total, cumulative value experienced by each stakeholder group assessed. This ‘snapshot in time’ approach was taken because it was deemed too challenging to ask the stakeholders to separate the value by year of involvement, and it was deemed too subjective for the practitioner to try to make these professional judgements. Instead, the investment figures include amounts from prior years (2020 and 2021) that were relevant to the 2022 stakeholders and all of the investment from the year 2022. The investment from prior years was calculated by dividing total cost of the programme per year by number of girls enrolled each year to determine cost per female student per year, and then multiplying that cost per student by the number of 2022 beneficiaries who were enrolled in those prior years. The same methodology was used to determine the portion of the organisation’s administrative costs applicable to Girls Clubs in prior years (analyzing cost per beneficiary per year and multiplying by the number of relevant 2022 stakeholders, those who were involved in prior years). The in-kind support for the meeting venue was included for all three years, and the monetary value of the mentorship hours from the donor was included for all three years so as to accurately represent the investment required for the full value experienced by the mentor stakeholder group.