Broadening market participation vital to breaking the poverty cycle

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To generate sustained changed for the world's vulnerable farmers, we must as a development fraternity overcome the common misconception that marketplaces are adversarial.

We must rather educate ourselves on the rationality of market systems and how they respond, very predictably, to the commercial imperatives that drive them. If we can create or even expose the value of poor farmers as market actors, then we can create change that takes on a life of its own.

Critically though, we must also ensure that those currently excluded from the market system are not, at the end of a project, still excluded from a market system with improved functionality.

Marking International Micro-, Small and Medium Sized Enterprise Day, World Vision Australia is publishing a report on inclusive market systems development programming that my colleague @Dane Moores and I have

Check out our blog on DevPolicy to read the full report.

10 Jul 2018, 2 a.m.

Andy Hunter

Thanks Alison GRIFFITH To my mind the preference in this circumstance is for the top down approach where it is likely to generate impact. It’s often more complex as you suggest to design an intervention plan and business model with some of those ‘messy actors’, and we often don’t know enough about them until we’ve started implementing the first intervention. Some of these actors and the extent of their influence tends to emerge over time. So yes, our approach is to engage where possible market actors to create the sustained systems change we are looking for – but perhaps because we work with such marginalised communities, we often find that some bottom up direct support is also needed. And I think that goes not only for small holders but also for those less capable, yet extremely integral, micro/meso or informal actors.

03 Jul 2018, 11:24 a.m.


Great blog on inclusion in market systems work, thanks! In your paper you make a helpful link to the SDGs and the 'leave no one behind' principle. We need to get better at articulating what that means in our M4P community so it's great that you have been explicit. Functioning market as you say are critically important for people in poverty, and most often they just don't work very well for them. The 'meso' level of actors and issues can exacerbate that... and conversely be a good solution. The 'messy bit' in the middle of our (often rather neat) market system maps is full of informal networks of traders and businesses that together represent a hugely important part of the system. In your model would you put them in the top down facilitation or bottom up? (or perhaps sideways on???)