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The SEEP Network 
Annual Conference

October 1-3, 2018

Technical Tracks

Expanding and Deepening Financial Inclusion 

Enhancing Food Security through Market-oriented Interventions 

Enabling Market Development in Fragile and Conflict-affected Areas

Getting and Using the Right Kinds of Evidence 


Great progress has been made in expanding financial access. Global Findex reports that between 2011 and 2014, the number of unbanked adults fell from 2.5 to 2 billion adults. Nevertheless, 77 percent of those living on less than $2 a day remain unbanked, dependent mainly on informal savings and credit clubs, moneylenders, friends and family to resolve their financial needs. Furthermore, financial inclusion ―the use of high quality and appropriate financial services―remains a challenge in most markets accessed by the poor. Marginalized populations, particularly women, HIV-affected people, persons with disabilities, youth, and those living in rural areas are significantly underserved. Lack of information, limited financial capabilities of consumers, inappropriate services and underdeveloped delivery channels are among the most intractable market systems constraints. This track will focus on proven strategies to expand and deepen financial inclusion, including the growing number of field-tested digital financial services. Priority will be given to strategies that have catalyzed systemic change and are on a pathway to demonstrating lasting change in how financial markets function for the benefit of vulnerable populations. Participants in this track will explore approaches that effectively respond to both demand and supply side constraints that are scalable, sustainable and with potential for replication.

Some questions for consideration:

  • What is the role of development organizations in financial inclusion?
  • What types of market-based interventions enhance both women’s agency and increase their financial inclusion?
  • How can digital financial services work for the benefit of vulnerable and marginalized groups?
  • How can promoting financial capabilities among poor women and men increase financial inclusion?
  • How can implementers stimulate new, mutually beneficial commercial relationships between financial service providers and the financially excluded, particularly for vulnerable and marginalized populations?
  • What are the drivers for development organizations and financial service providers to engage with one another (i.e., funding, technology, technical expertise, scale, networks)?

Despite recent progress in reducing global hunger, the FAO reports 795 million people around the world remain undernourished. Food insecurity is caused by a myriad of factors that hinder the availability, access, utilization and price stability of food. These factors include climate change, poor governance, and the unavailability of food locally, driven in part by constraints in local food markets. Market development programs in partnership with public and private sector actors focused on sustainable agriculture production, storage and supply chains have proven effective at addressing these constraints. This track explores the evidence around improving food security by strengthening agricultural market systems and incomes in rural areas. We aim to highlight lessons learned from programs addressing food security through market-oriented nutrition-sensitive programming and climate-smart agricultural practices, especially those that engage women and/or youth. We also will explore indirect efforts to enhance food security, including the role of social protection programs and the influence of on- and off-farm livelihoods on food security. Recognizing fragile contexts and humanitarian imperatives, we will focus on programs engaged in push/pull interventions which sequence or pair strategies to build the capacities of the poor to engage in markets (push) and expand the diversity and quality of economic opportunities accessible to the poor (pull).

Some questions for consideration:

  • How can market-focused programs influence household consumption decisions without working directly with smallholders?
  • What are the roles of public, private and NGO actors in addressing food security?
  • What evidence exists that correlates increases in family income to improvements in nutritional status?
  • What evidence exists to show how the graduation model has led to sustainable improvements in food security?
  • How has the growth in remittances resulting from increasing rural-urban or international migration affected food security?
  • What evidence is there that connects the outputs of systems change programs (in the wider market system) to farmer-level outcomes and improved food security?


Conflict, disaster and fragility compound poverty. According to the World Bank, some 1.5 billion of the world’s poorest live in fragile and conflict-affected areas (FCAs). Some FCAs may cover entire countries whereas others exist inside relatively stable contexts. Markets in FCAs are often thin, highly fragmented, and characterized by weak competition, lack of trust, low investment, international aid dependency, weak regulation and the marginalization of women. These markets present unique challenges for both development programs and inhabitants, including host community members, migrants and internally displaced persons, impeding their ability to work. This track will explore the distinct dynamics at play when implementing market development programs in FCAs, and consider the importance of cross-sectoral approaches, gender perspectives, graduation methodologies, and community and donor expectations. We will examine interventions that use innovative approaches to address the immediate needs of program participants while catalyzing inclusive economic growth. Finally, we will explore sustainability and what we have learned from program successes and failures to sustain market development work in fragile contexts.

Some questions for consideration:

  • How can market development programs operate in fragile contexts characterized by donor demands, program incentives, legacy tools and systems, and risk aversion, all of which can undermine the ability to adapt and iterate?
  • How can programs balance a more direct interventionist approach driven by acute need with proven market systems development principles and practices that support longer term sustainability?
  • How do we work differently and more effectively with entrepreneurs and workers in the informal sector, addressing the unique underlying constraints they face in fragile environments?
  • How do we address market distortions and incentives resulting from a crowded NGO and donor environment?
  • How can market development programs work with public and private actors to attract investment in a geopolitical area with an international reputation as ‘risky’?
  • How can market development approaches in fragile and complex states build stability, improve governance and reduce tensions, while delivering inclusive growth?
  • How does our approach to catalyzing development in urban area markets affected by disaster or conflict differ from stable contexts?


Efforts to develop insights to influence market systems change favoring the poor will be enhanced if we can expand our capacities to combine the collection and analysis of big data, citizen-supplied data, and other forms of new data with our time-tested research and M&E capabilities. Programs are exploring new methods to assess changes in behaviors, perceptions and relationships among market participants, increasingly by augmenting traditional data collection with digital data drawn from web browsers, mobile phones and social media. This track explores effective methods for collecting both “new” and “traditional” data and then transforming it into useful evidence to understand real-time needs, inform programming, promote learning, drive policy debates, and increase overall development impact. These methods need to be integrated into a wider organizational structure that supports and incentivizes the use of research and evidence internally for program design and decision making, and externally to promote policies to help take proven innovations to scale. Sessions in this track will explore such questions as how a combination of new and traditional data at the individual, household and community level can be analyzed to generate evidence to help vulnerable people thrive in complex market systems, support adaptive planning to face ever-changing conditions, design user-centered tools, influence government programming, and identify pathways to scale.

Some questions for consideration:

  • What types of evidence do we most need?
  • How do we best utilize this evidence?
  • How do you determine whether or not to use new and traditional data separately or in combination? What approaches exist for combining them?
  • What role can “new” data play in informing large-scale efforts to help vulnerable people attain the resilience they need to participate successfully in complex markets and financial systems?
  • What mechanisms do we use to link research to practice? To policymaking?
  • How might we better engage key stakeholders, including participants in our programs, in carrying out research and building and analyzing evidence?
  • How can we ensure that “traditional” and “new” data collection methods do not overlook populations such as women, youth, ethnic and indigenous minorities, rural residents, and people who cannot access mobile phones?

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