By Roger Oakeley, M4P Hub Manager
“M4P” is an innovative approach that focuses on improving markets and systems to reduce poverty and promote pro-poor economic growth. It offers a framework to diagnose conditions in market systems that hinder pro-poor growth and guidance on engaging with key market systems players (whether public, private, non-government or civil society) to facilitate systemic and sustainable change.
To consolidate learning on the use of the approach, we organised an international conference this November that brought together 173 market systems development professionals from over 50 development organisations (you can download all the conference presentations here). The conference took stock of important lessons, focused on good practice, and examined the merits, challenges and future requirements for the market systems development approach.
Some of the emerging themes addressed during the conference included: scaling-up and delivering sector-wide change and lessons on how to work more effectively with private sector partners. There was a strong interest in exploring how M4P can be applied to the successful development of basic and financial services, as well as giving attention to the importance of challenge funds, and measuring and monitoring market development initiatives and impacts.
In speaking to a range of participants, some of the more immediate messages taken away were:
- Targeting and strengthening communications – There is a need to communicate M4P and market systems approaches more effectively and more actively to important stakeholders;
- Diversity of application – Applying the market systems approach in new contexts and sectors (like health and education) is a rapidly growing area of interest;
- Strengthening measurement – Using robust methodologies to demonstrate the impact and sustainability of a market systems development approach is paramount;
- There are few shortcuts – The market systems approach is neither simple nor quick – this remains a real challenge for donors, practitioners and development partners alike;
- Work in progress – The market systems approach is still developing, and a committed effort by donors and practitioners to learning and sharing lessons and innovations is key to its success.
Overall, the event emphasised the ambition various stakeholders have for doing things better and having a lasting impact on poverty, and gave form to an incredible momentum behind that ambition that we can and must capitalise upon.
Business Fights Poverty was the online community partner for the M4P Conference.
All of the presentations from the M4P Hub conference are now available to view on the Hub website.
The Making Markets Work for the Poor (M4P) Hub is a knowledge and exchange forum for all those interested in making markets work better for the poor (M4P). To find out more visit www.m4phub.org or follow them on Twitter (@m4phub)