Celo’s Theory of Change

How we align day-to-day work with long-term impact

Will Le
Will Le
Oct 22, 2019 · 4 min read

Celo’s mission is to build a financial system that creates conditions of prosperity—for everyone. This is an ambitious goal. So the team working on Celo wanted to make sure that we had a way to track our progress toward this mission. Enter: our theory of change.

What is a theory of change?

A theory of change is a framework that describes how short-term actions will lead to long-term social impact. Theories of change are popular in the social sectors because they help organizations focus on activities that most directly lead to desired impact. In addition, robust theories of change have tangible metrics (similar to the “KRs” in OKRs) that hold organizations accountable and measure progress toward otherwise nebulous impact goals.

What is Celo’s theory of change?

To answer that question, we start from the end: What is the world that is possible with Celo?

The team working on Celo is united by a single mission: to build a financial system that creates conditions of economic prosperity for all. We define economic prosperity along three verticals:

Celo’s mission is focused on promoting prosperity by meeting basic needs, enabling growth potential, and / or increasing social support. We hope that each contributor to Celo can trace their initiatives toward Celo’s ultimate vision of economic prosperity.

All of our projects have a specific hypothesis that tie our activities to one or more of these indicators of prosperity. For example, we posit that enabling more efficient cash transfers is a powerful tool for helping people meet basic needs. GiveDirectly has chosen to use Celo’s platform to deliver unconditional cash aid in a project that will test this hypothesis.

Visual diagram of Celo’s Theory of Change framework

One important distinction to highlight: Celo’s theory of change is dynamic. We frame our actions in terms of hypotheses because we recognize that there is a lot we do not know about the impact of this technology on social wellbeing. We challenge ourselves to continually learn and adapt.

What about tangible metrics?

The team working on Celo has adopted metrics within each objective that we will track as Celo evolves. While no metric is perfect, we hope that by monitoring and reporting on impact metrics, we can create accountability on our progress toward promoting economic prosperity. The initial set of metrics we hope to track include:

Objective #1: Increase the number of people whose basic needs are met

  • # Celo users lifted above the poverty line

Objective #2: Individuals are able to grow along their own path

  • # People provided new access to decentralized finance tools (e.g. measured via surveys)

Objective #3: People are supporting each other

  • % reduction in avg. transaction costs for P2P payment

How does the theory of change impact you?

We hope this framework provides additional clarity about what impact the Celo community could have. We want every contributor to Celo to be able to see how their actions might lead to broader social outcomes. In addition, we hope the community can use this tool to prioritize work — we should use this framework continually ask ourselves whether our actions are advancing the mission of economic prosperity.

What’s next?

As with most organizational frameworks metrics, we expect these to change over time. For instance, we may find it too difficult or unhelpful to track a specific indicator and may adjust. This is a first draft, and we encourage feedback — please let us know if there are other impact metrics that you’d like for us to monitor. If there are other ways for us to improve this theory of change — we welcome the input.

Thank you and we value your time ❤.

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