Expert Researchers. Skilled Local Teams.
Who We Are
Proximity is a women-owned small business that sits astride the worlds of program implementation and monitoring, evaluation, research, and learning (MERL). We deploy innovative research methods to collect data in fragile contexts where reliable information is scarce. And we leverage that data to place learning at the center of our implementation to deliver dynamic programming in complex contexts.
Our name embodies our desire to be close to humanitarian and development challenges. It reflects our commitment to building our own teams in the communities with which we work. This proximity allows us to provide unique insight about the real-world issues that are affecting societies.
Where We Work
We work in fragile, conflict-affected, and post-conflict contexts where reliable data is hard to collect. We maintain an active presence in some of the most insecure locations around the globe, including Syria, Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan, and Libya.
We work effectively in these settings because we have developed the necessary experience and resources to understand and effectively navigate these landscapes. Our remote-training capabilities enable us to thrive in the non-permissive environments that are common in areas of extreme fragility, and our learning-focused delivery allows us to continually adjust to the instability of these environments.
Why We Exist
We were founded to amplify the voices of the unheard amidst conflict
Proximity was founded in 2014 in response to the growing need for independent monitoring and evaluation of humanitarian and stabilization programs in Syria. Continuous violence and volatility within Syria was preventing the collection and dissemination of timely, high-quality data that could help programs to learn and improve. The situation was also revealing the limitations of relying on subcontracted third-party monitors. Existing data-collection agencies in Syria were vastly overstretched – and overreliance on them was creating information echo chambers. As a result the voices of average Syrians were being silenced.
We offered a fully remote solution to training and managing research teams
Proximity offered a new approach to address this challenge: remotely hiring and training our own network of local researchers across the country. This approach allowed us not only to collect data at closer proximity to projects and their stakeholders, but also to provide unbiased and reliable data sets. As a locally entrenched partner, we were able to streamline the research process, reducing the number of steps and layers between donors and beneficiaries.
Having emerged as a go-to research partner in Syria, we began to apply our remote-training methods in other contexts where data was scarce and access was limited. We have since built research teams across the Middle East and North Africa, providing our partners with unprecedented reach and data quality in a range of difficult settings.
We applied this solution in other complex contexts
Just as the need for a reimagined data-collection approach fueled Proximity’s establishment, the need to better leverage data during project delivery has driven our evolution. We realized that our depth of insight and breadth of local networks not only enabled effective observation and evaluation, but also yielded a rich foundation from which we could deliver effective programs amidst fragility. Embracing our unique position in these settings, we have pioneered a project-implementation approach that places learning at its center, enabling continual evidence-based decision making.
Then used our insight to provide innovative implementation solutions
How We Work
Remote management and collaboration are built into Proximity’s DNA. We have tandem head offices in Washington and Amman, but most of our team members work from their homes around the world. Through our commitment to geographic flexibility, staff care, and radical inclusion, we create an inviting work setting that enables a strong work-life balance and attracts leading expertise.
Our decentralized nature is also reflected in our methodological approach. We recruit and remotely train our own networks of researchers. Leveraging our established Distance Learning Center in Amman, we teach locals to collect data safely and in accordance with best practices. Our approach yields expansive, on-the-ground networks of researchers who are properly vetted and trained, allowing us to provide rich, unbiased, and quality-assured data.
Our non-traditional methods also underwrite our ability to implement effectively in complex humanitarian and development contexts where questions need to be answered during delivery and projects need to adapt as challenges evolve. Through a focus on Doing by Learning, we go beyond agile management, continuously evaluating and developing our projects. Designed to support innovation amidst complex systems, Doing by Learning connects MERL directly to implementation, ensuring evidence-based project management.
Who We Work With
We work with a range of partners: with governments to assess the impact of their humanitarian and development programs; with private sector entities to evaluate the impact of their community-engagement programs; with foundations to support the delivery of their missions and understand the impact of their work; and with universities to conduct ground-level research that benefits the communities and contexts in which we’re working.
Amount of Funding Monitored, Evaluated, or Implemented