Practical Action Consulting is offering Participatory Market Systems Development training at the SEEP Annual Conference

By Katie Welford, Practical Action

Inclusive market development: Making market systems work better for poverty reduction

Practical Action

Practical Action Consulting (PAC) is holding a 2-day training workshop to introduce practitioners to the Participatory Market Systems Development (PMSD) approach at the SEEP Annual Conference in Washington DC. This technical training is aimed at enterprise and inclusive market development practitioners who wish to gain a greater understanding of Practical Action’s approach to inclusive market development and will take place on the 4th-5th November 2012.

Markets, whether for crops, livestock or labour, can act as a powerful platform to give marginalised farmers in developing countries, and those who provide services to them, access to valuable networks, technologies, experiences and assets that can help them work their way out of poverty.

However, markets can be plagued with inefficiency and inequality between different groups of people, especially in contexts where poverty is acute. This can be caused by a number of things, for example a lack of access to critical information like the current price of crops, misunderstandings and conflicts between buyers and transporters, regressive policies or just poor infrastructure.

Over the last decade, markets practitioners working for Practical Action across South Asia, Eastern and Southern Africa, Latin America and the UK have developed, tested and improved a participatory and systemic approach to markets that reduces poverty at scale- PMSD.

The process brings all actors in a market system together and engages them in collaborative exercises, from small-scale producers, local traders, and transporters; to government officials, law enforcement officers, and larger businesses. It is based on three principles:

  • Systems thinking: Markets are complex systems that adapt to new information constantly. They are made up of large numbers of actors who are connected to one another and whose decisions are influenced by, and have an influence on each other. Therefore, we cannot predict how the system will behave by looking at individual people or parts; we need to understand the relationships and the interactions.
  • Participation: No single actor can determine how the system will change. Some very powerful actors can influence the trends or general direction of change, but how this change manifests in reality is a product of the decisions of all actors. If we want to influence how a market system develops, we need to bring strategic players together to gain an understanding of the whole system, to jointly assess blockages and opportunities and to implement collaborative strategies and actions that will improve how the system functions.
  • Facilitation: Facilitation can be understood here as creating the conditions for public and private market actors to drive change themselves. If we want to become effective facilitators, we have to therefore avoid becoming actively involved in the market as market actors. Facilitators can provide support, and even use subsidies as a way to build trust and joint visions, and to contribute to the introduction and dissemination of new ideas, practices or business models; however this must always be as part of an exit strategy. Good facilitation is at the heart of sustainability, because it is underpinned by the ownership that the key actors have over their own process of change.

PAC provides training courses and mentoring on the PMSD process to international NGOs, private sector institutions and local governments. This ‘taster’ training workshop provides an introduction to the process and will focus mainly on how to design and facilitate preliminary and participatory market mapping workshops, how to engage key public and private market actors and how to help them move from plans to actions that can make their market system work better for poverty reduction at scale.

It will be delivered by PAC East Africa manager and PMSD expert Ailsa Buckley, and Lindsay Berresford, a facilitation expert, who will share their knowledge about both the technical, training and delivery elements of PMSD.

The workshop is available to individuals who aren’t attending the full SEEP conference, as well as members of the SEEP network at discounted rates.

Visit the SEEP website for more details on training costs and how to reserve your place.

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