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Promoting Inclusive Markets and Financial Systems

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How can we engage with the private sector in market systems more effectively?

by on Dec 13, 2011  |  posted in Enterprise Development  |  1 Comment
At the 2011 SEEP Annual Conference’s “Market System Facilitators Engaging with Corporates” workshop, the three speakers—Alison Griffith of Practical Action, Stephanie Daniels of Sustainable Food Labs, and myself (CARE)—asked the audience these three questions: •         What capacity do you need in your organization to engage the private sector effectively? •         What risks do you see in private sector engagement and how can they be managed? [caption id="attachment_950" align="alignright" width="300" caption="UK supermarket ASDA stocks flowers from small-scale farmers in Kenya. | Sustainable Food Laboratory"][/caption] It is interesting to put the workshop into perspective with the plenary session that came before it, “Leveraging Private-Sector Incentives and Strategies for Development Outcomes.” While the plenary session gave us a very good overview of the potential of the private sector as a development actor in terms of outreach and income (mainly from the perspective of international agencies and donors), the workshop described the point of view of NGOs, pointing at the necessary elements to make things work in practice. It became clear in the workshop’s group discussions that while leveraging private sector resources and motivations can be a key element of success for market engagement initiatives, this approach is not a silver bullet. Other important elements need to be taken into account, as highlighted by the discussion: We need to take the entire system into account: Engaging with corporations does not necessarily work unless the whole market system is analysed and engaged. Engaging with corporations, especially in high-value export markets, presents risks for small producers, particularly in terms of food security. Mitigation strategies--for instance, promoting a mix of food crops and cash crops among smallholders--are necessary. Facilitators should: 

-      Engineer relationships, rather than being part of the system

-      Build capacities in order to meet opportunities

-      Support smallholders to assess risks themselves.

The next generation of market facilitators will need blended skills. They must be able to speak both NGOs’ and corporations’ languages. In some cases this implies a cultural change as well. Timelines conflict: project cycles happen in the medium term, while commercial cycles occur in the short term. The reputational risk for NGOs to engage with some “not so responsible” corporations also remained between the lines of the discussion, and needs to be clearly addressed through a structured analysis. The role of the private sector in market systems became a sort of sub-track within market development during the conference, and the question of how to make these partnerships work effectively should constitute a key learning theme for the development community. Presentations from this workshop are available in PDF form here, under Enterprise and Market Development Systems Track.

1 Comment

BUYINZA J BOAZ says:
Feb 02, 2012

we are impressed by your work and wish to work with you.
our organisatio is http://www.faocug.org
God bless you.

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