ISEAL and its members are working together on the Demonstrating and Improving Poverty Impacts (DIPI) program, to understand the contribution that certification systems can make to poverty alleviation and pro-poor development. ISEAL commissioned an evaluation to identify whether and how certification contributes to improving farmer livelihoods. It is in this context that ISEAL engaged the Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA), to rigorously assess the early impacts of the Fairtrade and UTZ certification processes on small coffee farmers in the Mount Elgon region of Kenya. Although the region is reportedly emerging as Kenya's next "coffee belt", it is still one of the poorest in the country and has limited experience with standards and certification. This study also aims to contribute to the analytical framework that ISEAL and its members can utilize to understand the impacts of certification standards under similar settings.