This report presents key activities, lessons learned, and accomplishments of the Leveraging Economic Opportunities (LEO) project. Over the course of three years (October 1, 2013 – November 13, 2016), LEO served as USAID’s primary vehicle for learning in the area of market systems approaches and a convener of knowledge and best practices amongst its implementing partners. Leveraging the expertise of a diverse array of specialists and practitioners around the globe, LEO pushed the boundaries of market systems theory, translating it into practice by bringing stakeholders together in a variety of mediums and locales, developing capacity building guides and tool kits, producing frameworks to help make sense of complex ideas and approaches, and conducting assessments and advisory services in real-world markets, Mission contexts, and projects.
LEO’s primary purpose was to deepen and widen the capacity of USAID staff and its development partners to use evidence-based, good practices to design new projects and activities that promote inclusive market development, effectively manage their implementation, and evaluate their results. To achieve this, the project had four core objectives:
- Objective 1: Advance knowledge and evidence on frontier issues, expanding understanding of market systems and their role in contributing to inclusive economic growth and improved food security
- Objective 2: Improve the quality of project and activity designs based on evidence, creating and meeting demand among USAID bureaus and missions for resources and services
- Objective 3: Improve project implementation, by encouraging and enabling a shift to facilitation, and a commitment to capturing learning and applying good practice
- Objective 4: Improve methodologies for evaluating systemic change, with evaluation methodologies that support learning, inform project adaptation and advance understanding of systemic change
There were also two cross-cutting objectives:
- Advance knowledge and practice on innovative approaches to integrate collaboration, learning and adaptation (CLA)
- Build capacity of USAID staff and development partners to apply evidence-based good practices in project/activity design, implementation and evaluation
The report summarises the activities which supported LEO's objectives, and concludes with an overview of LEO's influence and recommendations for future learning.