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For over 60 years, Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) has created business solutions to poverty around the world. Rooted in faith values, they firmly believe that unleashing entrepreneurship is the best way to alleviate poverty. MEDA works with over 200 partners in almost 50 countries around the world.

Before Zerion

MEDA utilized a variety of survey methods and collection tools including paper-based surveys and electronic XML-based form tools such as Open Data Kit and FormHub. They need information and data to rapidly test our assumptions of business models and the marketplace. Why do people behave as they do? What barriers exist in the marketplace? What incentives currently exist that drive business and investment decisions?

They use this market data to understand whether they are impacting behaviors and decisions in the marketplace. Based on the survey results, MEDA rapidly updates their assumptions and deploys new prototype interventions. Once they see the desired response, the market interventions can then be scaled.


Using Zerion

MEDA projects are deployed in Ukraine, Tanzania, Ghana, and Sierra Leone; data is gathered in households, on farms, and within businesses. Data is then integrated into existing applications and other platforms including integration into a CRM system in Ukraine, providing market data to a client database in Tanzania, and integration into a market transaction system in Sierra Leone.

Some of MEDA’s favorite features include:

man, woman, and child sit on a bench while he notes her responses on a mobile device

Results Achieved

In an internal MEDA case study comparing convenience and functionality factors across design, collection, and data upload features, survey users highly preferred the mobile forms.

iFormBuilder has allowed them to:

  • Reduce overall costs to obtain validated data from the field by 30%
  • Integrate data into existing applications and tools
  • Have better control over form design, creation, changes, and deployment
  • Rapidly deploy forms into the field
  • Easily analyze data in text form
  • Easily train data collectors
  • Rapidly test and update our business models and understanding of customer segments
  • Increases the rate at which we can deploy prototypes and in response to market reaction

iFormBuilder has reduced MEDA’s overall costs associated with creating and capturing data and has reduced uncertainty, helping their teams identify what works at a faster, more accurate rate. They found iFormBuilder to be much more robust than other services and have generated more value. It has saved MEDA human and time costs with form design and development, has created an improved data feed to capture data and integrate it with other platforms, and has encouraged a full data-lifecycle approach. For MEDA, iFormBuilder is an easy-to-use, data-sensitive tool to capture data in the field!

About the Author

Mark Shepherd-Smith has spent a significant part of his 20+ year career focused on the effective use of IT in construction. Working with mobile devices has shown promise, but was often difficult to implement in the industry. With the introduction of iPad technology in 2010, Mark founded a company to develop a daily diary app; the solution was eventually adopted and internalised by Seymour Whyte in 2014. Following this, Mark joined Seymour Whyte as an Information Systems Manager to manage the ‘Fully Integrated, Fully Mobile’ vision.