How to Use the Principles

We acknowledge that adopting these principles requires capacity, resources, and in some cases, change management. These principles are not intended to be applied all at once, so we have developed this list of suggested approaches to help you get started, understand where your priority areas lie, assess what is initially feasible for you to work on, and make a longer term plan for the rest.

A Typical ESO Journey

How to Use – for ESOS

Practical Tips

How to Use – for Funders

Go to Principles


Early Stage

Small team and portfolio, limited resources, vision and mission but no Theory Of Change or MEL framework yet.

MEL processes are simple (e.g. excel spreadsheets and survey (forms), and data collection and analysis is everyone’s job.



The team and programs are growing; you have moved beyond ‘pilot’ stage, you have more entrepreneurs (and more data) in your alumni network.

MEL is becoming more difficult for team members with more programs and more entrepreneurs. 

There are excel spreadsheets of MEL data everywhere!



Your team is larger; you’re running multiple programs at once. It is time to review and re-align with your vision and mission, and create a clear (or new) Theory Of Change, based on what you have learnt or experienced. 

MEL is too big a job for the team to share; you need team members dedicated to ensuring MEL systems are clear and being implemented. 

You may be bringing in larger longer-term partnerships, and working with more entrepreneurs. It is time to streamline your MEL processes, clean up your data, and have clear tools and procedures (such as data collection and management).

SO then we think, are we doing the right thing, at the right time? 

As our organisations grow, our processes, management, and investment in resources grow and change too. This can introduce uncertainty, and you may wonder if you are conducting the right practices at the right time. These principles are here to offer guidance, whether you’re still in the early stages or are fully established, so that as you expand your Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) processes and strategies are founded on concepts that put effective and entrepreneur-centred measurement at the core of your work.

“It’s so important to see the journey that curious and results-driven ESOs go on because we’re  resourcing that drive for learning.”


– ESO Funder

1. Understand which principles your organisation is strongest or weakest in

Bring together your programs, MEL team (if you have one), and leadership team to read and reflect on the principles. For example, for each principle you could ask team members to rank the strength of your organisation out of ten, then discuss the answers. This can help decide how and when to tackle each principle.

2. Look for the low-hanging fruit (some initial principles quicker or less resource-intensive)

Some principles are slower, longer-term, or more resource-intensive. Each one is equally important, but to start with it can help to identify some initial principles that would be quicker or less resource-intensive. This may include making small changes to practices you are already doing.

Do not forget to always refer back to the other principles when you are ready, or set a goal for when you can tackle more.

3. Choose two or three principles to prioritise for the next three to six months

It is likely most of the principles will fall into this category, taking a little longer to put in place but possible in the next few months, perhaps as you launch new programs or services or wrap up existing ones. Choosing two or three principles to focus on over the next quarter can give you time to mindfully build effective strategies, metrics, or processes that work for you, without overburdening your team. 

4. Look ahead one year: what is possible?

There might be principles that require additional funding, are part of your strategic growth, or are simply the last principles you will cover as part of a year-long strategy to improve your impact measurement. It is normal for impact measurement adoption to be a slower, mindful process with many feedback loops. Do not be put off because you cannot achieve it all right away! 

Think of where you would like to be in one year’s time, and set yourself some targets you can refer back to. Perhaps this means having a full-time MEL member on your team, releasing your first impact report, or building a new MEL management system.

5. Share with us what worked well for you (and what did not!)

The principles are ‘living’, which means they will evolve as more adopters come on board and align with what we consider best practice for our sector. This means your feedback, stories, failures, and triumphs are incredibly valuable and can support the wider community to learn and better adopt the principles in the future.

So what are you waiting for? Reach out to us and let’s work together to get your story out there!

Ryani gestures to logo

Bring your team on board from the beginning


Start small, with only one to three principles


Set clear SMART goals for adoption and align them with your projected organisation growth.
(This will change depending on your organisation’s size, industry, capacity, etc) 


Create an adoption plan and timeline and do regular check-ins about your progress


Build the principles (or just one to two principles) into your strategic plan)


Make it clear who is responsible in leading the process


Decide on an ‘adoption budget’
(This might be as little as US$50 for team workshops, or large enough to hire an MEL consultant)


Talk to your funding partners and share your adoption plan with them

Illustration of an Investor

Endorsing the principles means that you as an organisation believe in and align with them, which may be demonstrated through your own changed practices or the practices you expect from your partners or grantees.

There is no legal obligation when endorsing the principles.

It is simply a statement of aligned values related to measuring the impact you are helping to create. 

As well as the steps outlined above, here are a few additional considerations for funders in the ecosystem:


Endorse the principles

Endorse these principles and present them to your implementing partners. Aligning with your ESO partners across the table on what effective measurement looks like stands to benefit not only the projects you fund but the whole startup ecosystem in Asia.

Have Realistic Expectations

Do not expect ESOs to be able to implement all principles right away – they are not simple to-do lists, but involve managing change in mindset, processes, teams, and strategy.

Consider the implementation Costs

Consider the percentage of funds that are currently allocated to MEL or organisational development. Consider the underlying costs or resources that each principle requires of your partners and how you can support them.


Promote & Share the principles

Promote the principles within your network, to your various partners, and to the ESOs you work with. Consider bringing together various partners to share learnings and resources related to their adoption of the principles.

the principles will help show strong mel to guide Investment Decisions

Consider the principles when making investment decisions. This could mean choosing to invest in initiatives that demonstrate strong MEL practices or alignment with the principles or ESOs with clear plans to adopt the principles and improve their impact measurement (but may need additional resources to do so).

consider funding needed for an ESO’s MEL practices

Look at funding an ESO’s MEL practices as an investment. By helping them develop strong measurement systems, you gain a clearer picture of the social and financial return on investment in that ESO and the entrepreneurs they support.

Be Involved in our community of practice or start a Working Group

Consider joining our community of practice, forming a working group, and/or sharing your learnings with us!

Still have questions?

Join the IMPES community. Start a conversation with other IMPES Principles users, get support, or provide feedback.