“Championing ordinary people and getting their voices heard. This really represents what research is all about.” This is how MRS judges summarised Girl Effect’s TEGA program when they - along with 2CV and Maido - received the Best Innovation prize at the 2016 MRS Awards. Two years on, the results of the program are inspiring.

The original idea was borne out of frustration with conventional research in emerging or hard-to-reach consumer markets and a desire to give girls in these markets more of a voice. By setting up Technology Enabled Girl Ambassadors (TEGA), Girl Effect enabled these girls to not only participate in research but to conduct the research themselves. Girl Effect, working with 2CV and Maido, developed a bespoke digital application, which enables the user to safely and easily capture rich media content of the world around them. Utilising a smartphone-based, peer-to-peer research app they now gather research that is better, faster, more scalable and more authentic than if it was conducted by an adult stranger from a foreign country and culture.

We were delighted when Girl Effect asked us to partner with them in creating a bespoke curriculum and qualification for TEGA, the MRS Certificate in Digital Interviewing for Market & Social Research. This is taken over three months, enabling the girls to become certified qualitative and quantitative digital interviewers. Each TEGA researcher is then independently assessed by MRS by submitting a portfolio of work, showcasing examples of fieldwork.

We are even more delighted that there are now 86 TEGAs with MRS qualifications in Malawi, Rwanda, Nigeria and the USA, with 27% receiving a distinction.

There are so many wonderful aspects to this project. By thinking creatively at every turn, Girl Effect championed innovation in set up and overcame a number of significant methodological, technical and social challenges. In doing so, not only will others be able to accurately understand these girls’ worlds, TEGA has given them employable skills for the future and therefore empowered them to reach their full potential. We are so proud to have been involved. We hope this just the beginning.


Read an interview with Farah Ramzan, CEO of Girl Effect

Ramzan's role has changed considerably since her creative media days, writes Jane Bainbridge on Research Live.

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