The Disha Programme in India

Implementing Partner

Focus of evaluation

Evaluation Agency

Date of publication

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

The Disha Programme

Dalberg Global Development Advisors – India  

March 2020

The Disha programme was launched in 2015 and aimed to economically empower one million women in India. In 2019, the IKEA Foundation commissioned Dalberg India to answer three questions about the impacts of the programme. These looked at:

• women’s economic empowerment (increased income, confidence and agency)
• ecosystems for schools, skills and jobs
• the extent to which the models implemented under Disha were sustainable and scalable.

The findings were mixed. The programme delivered positive outcomes for women who finished the package of different interventions, from counselling to job placement. It also demonstrated a few promising proof-of-concepts in the skilling and employment ecosystem. But it was unable to achieve economic empowerment at scale.

This evaluation presented a good example of how to respond to undesirable results or failures. It also offered lessons about the selection of partners, programme design and the role of evaluation in programmes that have unproven interventions. The IKEA Foundation had four options to consider, in increasing order of investment. We decided to exit the programme, the option involving the smallest investment, after considering the costs and returns.