The next phase of my project at work is fully underway. As I wrote in an earlier blog post, our goal had changed to a comparison between our own enterprise survey and that of the economic census, with the idea that small to mid-size businesses, especially those without a set structure, might be underrepresented by the government. This has evolved into a much larger project than originally expected, as the new final goal is a policy paper, and for our comparison to be conclusive and worthy of action, our methods need to be very exact. For this reason, we’ve reframed our past survey and will resurvey an area surrounding Bazaar Street, a very popular strip of shops and stores in a lower class area, and then compare our results to the results from the equivalent area of the economic census. This resurveying involves going house to house in order to ensure we cover every enterprise, including those done within the household, and creates quite the challenge as the full area is pretty large.
Being present from the start of a new survey, however, means I’ve been able to make it out of the office and into the field. As this phase of the project is looking at the same area of Bangalore as the last phase, which involved me analyzing the already collected survey data, I finally got to see how the reality matched up with the image I got from the data on the computer. Having spent so much time with the data I thought I had an idea of what the area might be like, but seeing it in person was much more revealing. The sheer number of enterprises was quite impressive, and it was quickly clear why this area was one that was a prime target, and home to many customers, of microfinance loans and other services.
Getting to wander the streets and map out survey boundaries with the other members of my team and our field workers, I was able to get a small taste of what everyday life might be like there. I was also able to see why the planning stages of these surveys was so long and included so many steps. You never know what obstacles you might run into when it comes to surveying every household in such a densely packed Indian city, from having to match up hand drawn census maps to small blocks of buildings to training the field workers how to best get accurate and reliable responses and data. I was reminded again how much I might stand out as a local approached my coworker in the local language and asked what our group was doing. After explaining the general idea, he then asked curiously, “So why is he here?” pointing at me.