Participatory Market System Development
Published by; USAID
Presenters: Allison Griffith and Luis Ernesto Osorio
Date: September 2008
The international Markets and Livelihoods Program has been evolving an approach to market development for the poor that is both systemic and participatory. This paper shares some of its learning and experience from past and current projects in Africa, South Asia and Latin America. Taking a systemic perspective has influenced the decision-making processes of program teams, particularly in the vision for market change and the scale and impact that can be achieved. As the dairy sub-sector in Nepal illustrates, an analytical framework (the Market Map) is useful to understand market systems.
The Market Map guides a process of engagement and interaction between market system actors. Participatory workshops can promote dialogue and improve understanding between actors. The process needs careful facilitation as the case of coir in Sri Lanka demonstrates. These workshops aim to lead to actions and ultimately to transformations in the market system. The role of multi-stakeholder forums in taking forward issues for action is discussed with examples from Sudan and Peru.
Transforming relationships between market actors is crucial to increasing competitiveness, a key issue for the poor in market chains. The case of livestock in Zimbabwe shows what is possible in an extreme context if market actors have the incentive and desire to work together.
In the final section, the challenges for practitioners to become effective facilitators of market system development are explored, sharing tips from Practical Action’s team leaders. In addition to changing organizational mindset and culture, the paper highlights the future challenge of dialogue with donors and others on the pro-poor impacts of market system development and the need for a more flexible and less controlling approach.