24-Hour Troubleshooting with the Data Reserve Corps

“Wow, this is great news. The nerds triumph again!”

That was the response from TaroWorks’ Director, Emily Tucker, a few days ago when a member of BwB's new Data Analysis Reserve Corps, Victor Chiapaikeo, came to the data rescue. TaroWorks, a Software as a Service social enterprise being incubated inside of Grameen Foundation, primarily serves  social enterprise and NGO clients, but is beginning to explore the possibility of expanding into other sectors, including mobile agriculture (mAgriculture), mHealth, mEducation, and mLogistics. As part of  this evaluation process, a team of Bankers without Borders volunteers has been conducting market research to help TaroWorks understand the competitive landscape for each of these markets and to project its estimated market penetration given its value proposition and differentiation. Central to this market sizing research is the need to understand how many potential client organizations are currently operating in key regions. Unfortunately, the most reliable and up-to-date listing of all development organizations in Africa is only available to the volunteers as a PDF file, making it the data difficult to analyze.

The research team brainstormed a few ideas as to how they could extract the data, but most of the proposed solutions involved an inordinate amount of manual labor. Finally, the volunteers, the TaroWorks team, and I (in my role as project manager) realized that we were not the right people to solve this challenge. So we turned to Data Reserve Corps for help.

I drafted an email to the Data Analysis Reserve Corps which was short and sweet, asking members to work their magic and help us find a way to transfer the list of organizations from the PDF file into Excel, without hours of manual data entry. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect as a response. We only recently launched the Data Reserve Corps and this was the first time we were turning to the community for a quick troubleshooting challenge. I clicked ‘Send’, hoped for the best, and went about my day assuming we would be lucky if we heard back from anyone by the end of the week.  

Victor Chiapaikeo, Data Analysis Reserve Corps Volunteer.

About five hours later, Victor’s name popped up in my inbox with an unassuming opening line: “Hi Sami, Please find the data attached." I’m not ashamed to tell you that after reading that line, I definitely did a happy dance at my desk.  In that short window of time, he had read my email and solved our problem. I sent the data over to Emily Tucker, who also replied with a simple, happy-dance-inducing message: “Wow, this is great news. The nerds triumph again!”

On behalf of Grameen Foundation and the Bankers without Borders team, we want to give a shout out to our speedy hero of the hour, Victor Chiapaikeo. Thank you for your nerd powers and for getting the critical data to the TaroWorks team in less time than it would take to watch a James Cameron double feature.

I also want to thank you for showing that BwB’s Reserve Corps strategy can be a great way to engage talented groups of volunteers and provide the targeted support that innovative social enterprises need. BwB’s Reserve Corps strategy is to build diverse, skills-oriented communities, like the Data Reserve Corps, within the larger volunteer Reserve Corps to better serve social enterprise clients by pre-recruiting key skill-sets and better leveraging shared knowledge and expertise, while also expanding our volunteers’ experience by increasing opportunities for engagement on, and beyond, projects. Currently we are recruiting for four key skill area Reserve Corps: Data Analysis, Financial Analysis, Strategy (Management Consulting and Market Analysis), and Human Capital.

We hope to have many more nerdy triumphs in the future and encourage everyone with the data, finance, management consulting, and HR skills to join a Reserve Corps today! 


Samantha Haviser
Group Programs Specialist, Bankers without Borders