This paper is part of a series funded under the Accelerated Microenterprise Advancement Project (AMAP) Knowledge and Practice II Task Order on best practices in value chain development programs from practitioners around the world. The international Markets and Livelihoods Program has been evolving an approach to market development for the poor that is both systemic and participatory. This paper shares some of its learning and experience from past and current projects in Africa, South Asia and Latin America. Taking a systemic perspective has influenced the decision-making processes of program teams, particularly in the vision for market change and the scale and impact that can be achieved. As the dairy subsector in Nepal illustrates, an analytical framework (the Market Map) is useful to understand market systems.