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Social enterprise improves education for more children with smarter processes, richer insights, and stronger donor relationships
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Camara helps more children escape poverty with Salesforce

Today, approximately 8% [1] of the world lives in extreme poverty. Social enterprise, Camara, believes that equal access to high-quality education is key in the fight against poverty. In just over a decade, the organisation has improved the prospects of more than 2.7 million students in Sub-Saharan Africa and Ireland through better access to education and technology. It’s trained 47,326 teachers; set up 8,627 education centres; and put more than 106,500 computers into schools.

“Camara has a vision of every child having access to world-class education regardless of their economic and social background,” said Steven Daly, Head of Partnerships at the organisation. “Without a decent education, children from more deprived areas face an uncertain future. We believe that technology can be the kick-starter for a great education regardless of a child’s background.”

Closer to its home in Dublin, Camara’s programmes have improved outcomes for thousands of Irish students at 500-plus schools and colleges by training 2,000 educators and providing 5,800 computers to schools in need, across the city.

And while computers and curricula are transforming education, Camara is transforming its programmes with better data insights enabling more informed and accurate decisions about the people they help. For example, with better data the team knows that girls from poorer families are often pulled out of school to help with the harvest in African countries, which impacts their grades for the year. With visibility of which children are from farming families, the organisation can offer financial support to those families to keep the girls in school throughout harvest season.

Harnessing the power of partnership

With the growth of the organisation, Camara decided to find an IT solution that could scale, and in 2008 made the decision to partner with Salesforce. It started with a small number of Sales Cloud licences to use as an asset management tool to track computers through the donation lifecycle.

Camara logo

“As soon as we partnered with, we received a huge amount of support from the Dublin office, not just in terms of technology, but also in terms of volunteers and advice. They really care about the work that we’re doing,” said Daly.

Soon, more and more spreadsheets and paper-based systems were being replaced with Salesforce, and ten years on, Camara has 44 active Salesforce users, from CEO level down. “With a single platform, we have achieved greater efficiency, consistency, and visibility across the organisation,” said Daly. “Our digital transformation has evolved and grown with us: we didn’t have a blueprint for success but instead have built a platform that meets our needs, and continues to adapt as those needs change,” Daly added.

With some customisation, Camara is even using Salesforce to record visitors signing in and out of its offices, not just meeting health and safety requirements, but also providing metrics on how much support the organisation is receiving from visiting volunteer partners.

With more than 50 partners, nurturing these relationships is key. “Although we are a small organisation, we have a big reach,” explained Daly. “By joining forces with local partners, we can have a greater impact on local communities.”

For example, by partnering with Learning Equality, an organisation that provides education platforms that can run with limited or no connectivity, Camara found a way to deliver its programmes to more schools in hard-to-reach areas.

And thanks to Salesforce, Camara can manage its partner relationships better. “The team uses Salesforce Inbox to centralise communications and make sure no data or actions are lost,” said Daly. “They also use the Salesforce Mobile App for anytime, anywhere access.”

Personalised and engaging updates for donors.

Fundraising to bring in more donations of technology is also central to the success of the organisation. With Sales Cloud, Daly can track the progress of major fundraising projects and ensure they are moved on to the next step in the cycle. “Salesforce gives us insights into how many donated machines were refurbed for reuse, where they’ve gone, and even allows us to send our donors a photograph of the recipient school. “This personal touch engages the donors in the journey and the impact their contribution makes thus deepening the relationship we have with these supporters,” commented Daly.

Camara also uses apps from the App Exchange to make email updates to donors as engaging as possible with metrics and graphs.

“The more we leverage technology, the more data we can collect,” said Daly. “Salesforce makes everyone a data scientist. If I have a question about our performance, I log on and
run a report or build a graph. I’m looking forward to exploring Einstein as we seek to unlock more insights about our work and the communities that we serve.”

To date, Camara Education has worked with nearly 9,000 schools and youth centres. They have installed over 100,000 computers and trained more than 47,000 teachers and youth workers. All this adds up to reaching more than 3 million students.

The insights and efficiency gains delivered by Salesforce will be key as Camara heads towards its 2020 target of improving education for two million more students, reaching five million in total. “With Salesforce, we’ll be able to unlock the power of data to make sure we have the maximum impact on children’s lives. For example in one project in Zambia we already know that Camara students perform 15% better than those without support, and with Salesforce helping us to demonstrate these metrics on grant applications we’re more likely to secure the funding we need to reach more children,” said Daly.