Interesting things that we’ve heard at MSS

Reply on Discourse | 8 comments

Nov. 27, 2023, 3:57 p.m.

Sandrine Chetail-Armour

It was so good to see so many faces - new and former colleagues...and of course Karri with your consistent enthusiasm! Two main takeaways for me - the growing importance of labor markets in the various contexts; and the still nascent thinking around green MSD - still a lot to unpack there!

Nov. 20, 2023, 8:30 p.m.

Dan Barthmaier

I’m back from MSS with a few days rest and back in the grind, and still I find myself mulling over the key takeaways from the week. So much to think about! But the first thought that pops up is just how wonderful it was to be there in-person with everyone. So many vibrant side conversations and just the chance to meet so many people in person I’ve only had the chance virtually. Its refreshing to see how many of us are struggling with the same questions and how everyone is willing to share experiences and move our sector forward. And while we all work on the details of implementing MSD, let’s not lose sight of the big goals of systemic change! Looking forward to next year already! Dan Barthmaier

Nov. 17, 2023, 2:39 p.m.

Daniel Langfitt

Thanks for starting this conversation, Karri, and for insisting on getting the discussion going on migration. I've joined virtual webinars and the odd seminar on this in the past but it must have been in-person Symposium magic that just a vibrant twenty-minute talk listening to you, Scott, Cuan, Jen, Cristóbal, and the others finally made it click: "ooohh, migration* is just about shortening the supply chain and improving supporting functions in a labour market!" And apparently once I can make a doughnut-shaped mental map, the sky's the limit. Hope we can explore this topic more concretely in future symposia, especially with more of the Canadian and Swedish perspective. I had a few similar theoretical revelations, learned about one or two new-to-me areas like the blue economy and its socio-environmental intersections, and made peace with people using different terminology from mine to mean the same thing (and the same terminology to mean different things), but perhaps predictably the most striking take-away for me was also the most practical: We have a strong bias towards sharing technical approaches and mental frameworks in webinars, BEAM Exchange toolkits, MarketLinks blogs, and indeed Symposia... but we don't put much of a spotlight on the nitty gritty "how". So much in market-development work involves partnerships (and sometimes grants) but this leans operational and organisations tend to think this is either boring internal stuff or confidential. (Yes, my grants manual and agreement templates are proprietary; but an excerpt on my solicitation and review methodology doesn't need to be; and my RFAs and APSs are probably public anyway.) To my surprise and mild embarrassment, I discovered that a project implemented by my own organisation next door to the region I used to live in and basically in my own practice area is experimenting with an innovative type of grant-making I've been curious to try for four or five years; I knew all about their value chain and IDP work, but had no idea how they were doing it. (Shame on me----but also, what does that say about cross-organisational learning and feedback to donors about how to do markets-oriented programming when the rubber hits the road?) So I hope the "partnerships and grants in MSD" deep dive group with Mark, Emmet, Collins, Nimesh, Gwen, and the others can keep sharing and comparing notes. And on a related note---and some gentle self-promotion---it came out in our discussion and in the conflict-themed sessions in the Symposium that when you are adapting MSD paradigms and tools to markets in crisis or recently post-crisis, this absence of approach-sharing gets more acute (not so much in the Springfield manual). So stay tuned: I'm going to work on a series of blogs sharing some experiences from the Ituri DRC project I left recently focused on partner engagement approaches in conflict zones and working with the private sector in extremely thin, conflict-affected markets. I hope that will help keep the discussion going. *I mean, "population mobility." (Thanks Scott!)

Nov. 17, 2023, 10:20 a.m.

Scott Merrill

There were so many interesting discussions and conversations at the Symposium. My main takeaway was how vibrant the conversations were, and how many very smart people are thinking about and focusing on this important topic. I felt very lucky for being able to be a small part of some of them.

Nov. 17, 2023, 10:20 a.m.


Hello Kristin, Happy to hear you mentioning” Shifting the locus of learning”. This is the strategy we are using in implementing “ USAID feed the future Modernizing agriculture Activity in Rwanda. And it has been very effective. When the private actors unlock the potential of using data and consistently analyze what’s works and doesn’t work in their business that’s where all it starts to make a difference.

Nov. 17, 2023, 7:56 a.m.

Kristin O’Planick

So many interesting things! We had a conversation around the question "Does MSD matter" in situations where it all falls apart with some crisis. I'd say yes. If the work has been done to shift the locus of learning (see [here](, then market actors have strengthened their capacity to collaborate, learn, and adapt to better problem solve for themselves. That skill set will aid them in recovery and next steps - whatever might be next. That matters.

Nov. 16, 2023, 3:28 p.m.

Karri Byrne

Both USAID and Sida said: “MSD in Fragile Environments… it’s not an upcoming trend… it’s there!”

Nov. 16, 2023, 3:06 p.m.

Karri Byrne

Really good discussion on migration at the Market Systems Symposium that might be of interest to our humanitarian colleagues as well… We asked the question “When is it helpful to apply a market systems lens to migration?” It was a wide ranging discussion: We talked about different types of migration: climate migration, internal migration and that it is often more positive than negative. We heard about some great programs in Honduras and Canada that are using a market systems lens to look at migration as a form of labor market system (recognizing that market system tools can bring in those protection elements that our humanitarian colleagues worry about… really interesting!