Promoting Inclusive Markets and Financial Systems
Monitoring and Measuring Change: The Systemic M&E Principles in the Context of the Kenya Market Assistance Program
The Market Facilitation Initiative (MaFI) is a working group of the SEEP Network that focuses on the question of “how to become effective facilitators of inclusive market development initiatives.” In other words, the group’s focus is on how to create appropriate conditions—at the lowest costs and effort—for public and private market actors to make their systems work better to reduce poverty on a larger scale and more sustainably.
One of the main lessons emerging from several MaFI discussions is that becoming an effective facilitator is not just a technical challenge. It is also an organizational and political challenge, in the sense that project staff members are influenced by rules, procedures, and incentives created and enforced by their own organizations and donors, which hamper the ability to facilitate effectively.
In response to this insight, MaFI started a series of conversations that led to a set of proposals called “The MaFI-festo,” to change the rules of the game to make international development cooperation more “facilitation-friendly.” The MaFIfesto focuses on four critical issues: (1) how facilitators work in the field, (2) balancing flexibility and accountability, (3) building the capacity of facilitators, and (4) what and how we measure change. The fourth issue challenges the use of M&E frameworks based on linear and mechanistic paradigms when it comes to assessing the impacts of donors and NGOs on market systems.
In 2012, a series of online discussions, an e-consultation, and a plenary during that year’s SEEP Conference brought together the voices and experiences of hundreds of SEEP and MaFI members. It created significant momentum around one of the issues proposed by the MaFI-festo: what changes we pay attention to and how we measure them. These events—which took place thanks to the support of USAID, SEEP, and FHI 360—led to the production of a synthesis paper4 that proposed seven principles to inspire better design and more appropriate management of M&E frameworks that embrace and leverage the systemic and complex nature of markets.
Among the messages that came across clearly from the people who participated in the discussions during the 2012 conference and those who kindly provided comments and criticisms of the paper, two in particular inspired this case study:
• Continue reflecting upon the ideas in the paper to improve them, clarify them, and increase the agreement around them.
• Document examples where the principles and ideas proposed in the paper are making a real difference in the ability of development organizations to monitor and adapt to change and assess the impacts of their interventions.
In addition to being a direct response to the above requests, this paper is also a step toward the long-term vision of promoting appropriate applications of complexity and systems thinking to development practice and policymaking, in particular from the perspective of monitoring and evaluation of inclusive markets development.