Programme Index Listing

Main implementer
International Labour Organization (ILO)
Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO)
2014-2020 (Phase 1 and 2)
Total budget
USD $5.2 million approx.
External links
The Lab website
Areas of work: interactive map


The Lab is a global initiative that tests, scales and shares strategies to maximise the impact of market systems development interventions on decent work.

It generated practitioner knowledge about how market systems development can maximise labour market impacts and how employment-related results can be monitored and measured. It worked to institutionalise a market systems approach to decent work into the ILO.

See also The Lab's successor - the Systems Change Initiative (SCI) profile

Market systems focus

The Lab has worked directly or supported analysis in the following sectors and countries:

  • Agri-business: Dominican Republic, Peru, Rwanda, Zambia, Afghanistan, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, India, Mozambique, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar
  • Tourism: Mexico, Vietnam, Kyrgyzstan, Tanzania, Mozambique, Myanmar
  • Construction: Mozambique, Zambia, Rwanda
  • Retail/Garments: Asia (regional), Rwanda
  • Wooden Furniture: Peru

Programme interventions

Knowledge production and dissemination
Generate manuals, a working conditions measurement toolkit and other knowledge products on proven business models and market analysis methodology to disseminate among practitioners and policy-makers (see following section).

Institutionalise the approach
The Lab worked to mainstream a systems approach to more and better jobs in two ways, principally:

  1. to support the ILO to embed a more systemic approach in the way it addresses decent work
  2. to help MSD practitioners and donors better identify decent work challenges and then design and run interventions that can address them

Technical support for projects
Carry out market research and analyses, support interventions and action research to address decent work deficits and enhance results measurement capacity.

Explore The Lab’s studies in this interactive map



Over 80 publications taking the form of guidance, briefs, sector selection, market systems analyses, project evaluations.

Codifying good practice into guidance
The Lab has worked to both support and learn from field projects as a means of creating knowledge and codifying it into practical guidance. The guidance covers a range of thematic areas including:

Technical support provided

The Lab has supported more than half of the ILO’s portfolio of value chain development projects as well as businesses, other multi-laterals, NGOs and projects. This has included supporting:

[Updated Jan. 2021. Programme ended in Dec. 2020]