This Nonprofit is Helping End Poverty with AppExchange Apps and Trailbridges - - AppExchange
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This Nonprofit is Helping End Poverty with AppExchange Apps and Trailbridges

A group of young schoolchildren gather near a bridge in a rural setting.

​​​​​​In 2001, Bridges to Prosperity (B2P) founder Ken Frantz saw a photo in National Geographic Magazine that moved him to action. The image showed men dangling precariously, using ropes to pull each other across a wide, high, and broken bridge span over a portion of the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia. Ken soon discovered that his brother, Forrest Frantz, had seen the photo and had the same thought: “I want to repair that bridge.”

Twenty-one years later, B2P has built more than 390 trailbridges, serving over 1.4 million community members in 20 countries around the world. Together, they are using technology and teamwork to solve rural isolation. We sat down with VP of Evaluation, Abbie Noriega, and Systems & Analytics Manager Dan Chao to learn how AppExchange apps are helping B2P solve poverty and create connection and opportunity.

Can you tell us more about your role and what you do?

Abbie Noriega: I’ve been with B2P for eight years, from startup mode to real scale for the organization, which has been exciting. I’ve stayed at B2P because I believe in the work we’re doing. Rallying around rural transportation and infrastructure hits on so many different dimensions of poverty. Because with one intervention, you’re not just creating access for a household, or even a community, you’re creating access for an entire region. And then you’re affecting many different dimensions and underlying root causes of poverty within that region.

In my day-to-day, I manage the monitoring, evaluation, and research of Salesforce technology and AppExchange apps used to get our work done around the world. Our trailbridges connect people to critical destinations and create safe access to markets, schools, transportation centers, hospitals, health care, and places of occupation. With data analysis and research, we’re able to create more trailbridges with more impact.

Dan Chao: I joined B2P in 2020 and I manage the technical side. When users need help updating Salesforce, solving problems, or we want to build the framework for scaling and have the data to back everything up, I provide the technical support needed. When it comes to Salesforce, we use CRM Analytics and several AppExchange apps to analyze and drive impact. Today, our Salesforce instance spans across 90 people in three countries.

​​​​​​What challenges was BTP trying to solve for when it turned to the AppExchange?

Abbie Noriega: We are ambitious: We want to solve the problem of poverty due to rural isolation in our lifetime. To do this, we’ve identified three key strategies: technical assistance, advocacy, and evidence. And for us, evidence is the key, which means we need to rely on data that’s timely, accurate, and collected in a way that doesn’t feel burdensome to our staff. That’s why we’ve invested so much in Salesforce and AppExchange apps.

In B2P’s early years, we perfected the design and construction piece of what we do, but we weren’t very good at measuring impact or evaluating data. We needed technology and systems that help us build a body of evidence to inform where to invest in trailbridges and infrastructure and why. This data helps us advocate with the right government and funding partners so that they understand the value of transportation infrastructure that serves rural populations.

Dan Chao: Ultimately, we needed an integrated database that could provide us with the insights needed to scale and make an even greater impact. One of the apps we use, TaroWorks, helped us solve the need we had for offline construction, data, and expense management. We also use WealthEngine and the Classy Integration for fundraising and consult with Mogli for technical support.

How has TaroWorks and other apps transformed the way that you work and helped you in your success?

Abbie Noriega: TaroWorks is our jack-of-all-trades mobile data collection app. Our staff work in remote regions of the world that don’t always have reliable Internet. TaroWorks allows us to capture and collect data in a real-time way without Internet access. This data integrates seamlessly into Salesforce in order to see everything from the status of a bridge project, safety reports from the field, photos from the trailbridge site, our budget and expenses, and more.

Through TaroWorks, we collect catchment surveys, which reveal how many villages and people are actually using the bridges. Because the data is integrated into Salesforce, we can export this data into Tableau, where we’ve built beautiful dashboards that report and illustrate impact based on our data, and helps us share our story.

Dan Chao: All of the apps, along with CRM Analytics, have helped our team work efficiently and intelligently. Everything we do is informed by the data we’ve aggregated through Salesforce. We would not have been able to scale our organization as well without the right solutions in place to help us digitally transform.

As you look to the future, what does success look like for BTP?

Dan Chao: Poverty through rural isolation is an issue that is solvable in our lifetime. To me, success is not only building bridges, but supporting the construction of bridges built by partners, and providing technical assistance and advocacy as we all work together to solve this issue.

Abbie Noriega: Like Dan said, we believe this problem can be solved in our lifetime. As we look to the future, we will continue to focus on our three pillars of strategy — technical assistance, advocacy, and evidence — to drive success as we work to continue to make the world a better place.

Want to support Bridges to Prosperity’s work? Visit their website to learn more. You can also visit AppExchange to discover other sustainable apps like TaroWorks that are helping companies do the right thing for their business and the planet.
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