Developing a lean data management system for an emerging social enterprise

Eric Obeysekare, Anthony Marucci, Khanjan Mehta

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Scopus citations


Data collection is essential for organizations operating in developing countries and other low-resource environments. Whether for traditional monitoring and evaluation, efficiency improvements, or research purposes, data collection is an essential part of the scaling process of any venture. Despite the necessity of data collection, creating an efficient system that captures key information is no easy task. Choosing the proper tools, designing comprehensive protocols, and integrating data collection into organization workflows are essential components of any data management system. To accomplish this, organizations are turning to a Lean approach of reducing all possible inefficiencies, which despite its origins in the manufacturing field, is becoming popular among entrepreneurs and researchers alike. From a data collection perspective, eliminating waste, such as inefficient forms or collection of un-needed data, allows organizations to create efficient systems that serve their purposes and provide needed information in a timely fashion. This article will describe the data collection system being implemented by GRO Greenhouses, a social enterprise that sells greenhouses in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Using off-the-shelf tools like Google Docs, GRO was able to create an easy-to-use system that addressed the organization's needs as it expanded from its start as a university-based research project into a full-fledged venture operating with external funding. Collecting relevant data is the next step in GRO evolution as long-term sustainability becomes more important. Lessons learned by GRO about data collection and scaling are relevant to other similar ventures as they seek to evolve and expand.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGHTC 2016 - IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference
Subtitle of host publicationTechnology for the Benefit of Humanity, Conference Proceedings
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781509024322
StatePublished - 2016
Event6th Annual IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference, GHTC 2016 - Seattle, United States
Duration: Oct 13 2016Oct 16 2016

Publication series

NameGHTC 2016 - IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference: Technology for the Benefit of Humanity, Conference Proceedings


Other6th Annual IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference, GHTC 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Health(social science)
  • Communication
  • Political Science and International Relations


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